It’s a cycle any sports team must endure. A team struggles but gets some young players who show promise. These players lead the team to success before moving on to other things leaving the team right back at the beginning of the cycle. This issue is more prevalent in junior teams and college sports, as most players typically only play four to five years in the league before graduating. Just like every other team in the ACAC, NAIT faces the challenges of this cycle at the end of most seasons. College usually is either one last chance to play the game you love or one last chance to prove your worth to get a professional team interested in you.
NAIT’s hockey teams will lose many key contributors from this year’s men’s and women’s silver medal-winning rosters, including Keaton Holintay, Dylan Stewart, Taryn Kotchorek and Cass Lyttle.
Keaton Holintay put up eight goals and 12 points in 22 games and added a pair of goals in the playoffs. He didn’t respond in time for a comment, but we can only hope he continues in the world of sports.Dylan Stewart scored ten goals and 29 points in 24 games before scoring three and six points in the playoffs. Dylan Stewart is the only player mentioned who plans to play professionally. When asked about his plans after graduation, he said his goal is to, “continue playing hockey professionally overseas in Europe for a few years.” After that, Holintay hopes to enter the working world and “eventually find a career in sports marketing or start my own business about something [he is] passionate about and believe[s] in.”
Taryn Kotchorek made 11 starts in the regular season and spent most of the season mentoring rookie Ryley Osland. Kotchorek started the first game of the playoffs for the Ooks and, after letting in six goals on 33 shots, was replaced by the rookie and never saw the ice in the playoffs again. Kotorochek plans to “move back to Saskatchewan to manage Battlefords Landscape Supply, a landscape supply store going into its second year of business.” Kotorochek will continue to mentor young goalies as well. He said he “will also be doing some goaltending coaching with minor hockey teams in the local area.”
Cass Lyttle put up a goal and eight points playing in all regular season games for the Ooks and added another assist in the playoffs. She also plans to move back home where she’ll be working in HR. But Lyttle’s hockey career won’t end, as she also wants to help out with some local hockey teams. All these players have left their mark on these teams for years. Now it’s on to their successors to continue where they left off.