Hockey is back in Louisiana and it’s not the IceGators.
The Louisiana Drillers are a junior hockey team that play in the North American Level 3 Hockey League and are coached by former IceGator captain Shawn McNeil and former driller Alex Domas.
The league is aimed at players aged 16 to 20 who come from all over the world. The league has 34 teams divided into five divisions.
Lost over the holiday weekend filled with parties, fireworks, college football playoff semi-finals and NFL playoff spots, it was …
The Drillers play in the South division, which has eight teams, including the Drillers. Five of the teams are from Texas, one from Oklahoma and one from Atlanta. The Drillers face those seven teams in two or three sets of weekend games.
The team recently played in a showcase in Minnesota, playing against three teams from across the country. The showcase is an opportunity for young players to be screened and recruited for college or professional hockey.
For most players, the goal is to play college or professional hockey.
âMy overall goal is to be a professional hockey player and half the man my dad is,â said Drillers captain Frank Steinway. “This league is helping me get to college to play varsity hockey and it’s the perfect step to get to this place.”
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Steinway is from Dallas and is one of many out-of-state players who have traveled to Louisiana to play hockey. Steinway said when he arrived in Louisiana the environment was different, but the reason he signed up to stay here was because of the people.
âYou walk into a store or do anything and everyone around you is so friendly,â Steinway said. âEveryone is so passionate about Lafayette, Louisiana too. âAcadiana Strongâ, I love it. “
Another player from out of state, or in this case, out of country, is Pavel Grishin, a goalie who came to Louisiana from Novosibirsk, Russia. Grishin saw his opportunity to play professional hockey playing for this team and jumped on it.
Daniel âCrunchâ Broussard was more than just a referee.
âI wanted to go to the United States to play hockey so that I could start my career,â said Grishin. âI saw it as a new opportunity to play in front of Boy Scouts in North America, that’s why I’m here.
Non-Louisiana players are matched with host families who go through a background check by league officials. After that, the player moves in and the player’s parents send the host family a monthly check to help cover expenses.
The Drillers aren’t filled with players from all over the world. There is currently a Lafayette player in the squad. Aidan Fontenot played youth hockey in Louisiana at the old Carencro rink and now plays for the Drillers on a bigger stage.
âWe have the most amazing fans, staff and coaches,â Fontenot said. “I’m proud to be from here and proud to wear the logo every game.”
The Drillers currently sit fourth in their division and their next home game is Feb. 5 against the Texas Roadrunners at Planet Ice.