The Fort St. John Huskies will be without star goalie Jonathan Bateman next season, as the team’s starter for the past three years — and two-time NWJHL Goalie of the Year — will be playing for Marian University in Wisconsin.
Bateman visited the university on April 27 and committed following his tour. He will join the team for the 2019-20 season, and will study business administration management.
“They have a great atmosphere at Marian and welcomed me with open arms. There’s a lot of hype around the hockey team and quality of education, and it was hard to say no,” Bateman said.
The Huskies had nothing but great things to say about Bateman and his time with the team.
“(Bateman) has been a real leader for this organization, a great teammate, and befriends everyone. He’s grown as a person here, and matured as an individual and an athlete, and if he keeps putting in the time, he could keep playing beyond college,” said Huskies Coach Todd Alexander.
Bateman, 20, would still be eligible to play for the Huskies again next year, but had his sights on moving to the college level.
“Moving on to college was always the plan. I enjoyed my final year with the team, and wouldn’t be moving on without the support of the entire Huskies family,” said Bateman.
Though the Huskies are losing a key member of their team, Alexander said Bateman moving on is a win for the organization.
“The championships and wins are all nice, but at the end of the day, seeing players improve and chase their dreams when they leave, and having success with stuff we help them with, that’s where we win at the end of the day, as an organization,” Alexander said.
Joins former teammate
Bateman will join former Huskies teammate Jarod Lang at Marian. Lang was named Rookie of the Year for the Marian Sabres last season, as well as a member of the ACHA All Conference Rookie Team. He helped the Sabres make the NCHA Harris Cup in Texas, the national tournament, and Bateman is hoping to help the team get back there again in 2020.
It won’t be easy, however. The Sabres are bringing back a senior goalie from last year’s team, and Bateman will be battling with fellow NWJHL alumni and former County of Grande Prairie King Will McCreight for the backup position.
“Me and (McCreight) have played against each other for four years, have that mutual respect, and now we can be teammates and support and push each other for that second spot,” said Bateman.
Bateman is grateful for his time with the Huskies, and that he can represent Fort St. John and the team at the next level. He also expressed his gratitude to his billet family, the McArthurs, who took him in as one of their own and were there for him every step of the way.
“I can’t compare it to anything else, my time with the Huskies has been surreal,” Bateman said.
“The atmosphere this town has is pretty special, you don’t see that anywhere else. We became real close as a team and brought back some championships to the city and the people deserve it.”
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at email@example.com.