FRASER, Mich. – It’s rare that a player from the NA3HL gets recruited by one of the top academic and NCAA hockey programs in the country.
But Kevin Shand is the exception when it comes to his passion for hockey and working his way to the NCAA Division III level with his recent commitment to the Milwaukee School of Engineering.
This fall, Shand, who spent this past season with the NA3HL’s Metro Jets and was the East Division’s MVP and Forward of the Year, will head to Milwaukee this fall to start his college career, on and off the ice.
“MSOE had offered me for quite some time,” said Shand, a 20-year-old out of Saline, Mich. “I fell in love with the school right away, but made a promise to myself to go through the process and give looks at other schools before I made my decision. Academics and their hockey program is top notch.”
In 2015-16, Shand posted 41 goals and 81 points to lead the Jets in scoring and finish third overall in league scoring. His 11 points in four playoff games led the league.
Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville knew Shand was talented, but really saw him blossom this past year.
"It's difficult for me to sum up how much value a player like Kevin Shand carried with the Jets,” said Quenneville. “It's been a whirlwind three years watching him hit incredible highs and some difficult lows. All in all, he kept coming back to the Jets and wanted to finish what he started. Everyone notices Kevin for his skill and high hockey IQ, but he has so many other underrated abilities as a player and a young man that we knew would destine him for something big. It's an understatement to say Kevin had plenty of options, more than I have ever seen for one player in a season, but he handled it with maturity and ultimately, made the right decision. (MSOE coach) Mark Ostapina already has built a good relationship with him and Kevin will benefit tremendously from the MSOE environment.
“We wish them the best of luck."
Shand also played parts of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons with the Jets, in addition to time in the NAHL with Springfield, Coulee Region and Brookings and in the USHL with Cedar Rapids.
That said, he credits his time with the Jets as the biggest benefit to his career.
“Metro has done more for me than I could have ever imagined,” said Shand. “’Q’ and (assistant coaches) Jamie Lovell and Randy Wilson have done so much for me as both a player and a person. I’ll be continuing to train with them this summer until I go to school. What I’ll remember the most from last season is just the love and fun all the boys had for one another. We had a blast every day. We all trusted the process and challenged each other and that's how we had the success we did.”
Looking at taking on a business major with a concentration in sports, Shand said playing for the Raiders and Ostapina will be a challenge, but one that he is ready for. A member of the NCHA, Shand will also play against former Jets defenseman Jake Rutkoske, who will play for Northland College this fall after committing this past February.
“I'm going to dedicate myself this summer to getting ready for the next level,” Shand said. “I don't have a point number or any goals like that, just a goal to give MSOE the best chance to win every hockey game I suit up for them.”
When reflecting on his college decision, Shand said three people stand out to thank.
“My parents (Sue and Dave, a former NHL player) have been very supportive not only in this process, but throughout my whole hockey career and I wouldn't be where I am without them being great role models,” explained Shand. “’Q’ is a very close second to them. I've never been so close to a coach and no one has taken as much time as Q has to help me achieve my goals.”
Getting back into the academic side and balancing hockey is something Shand hasn’t done since graduating from Cranbrook-Kingswood in 2013 (and winning a state championship his senior year), but he’s taking it all in stride.
“I think every time you make a jump to a higher level of hockey, it's tough,” said Shand. “I have my mindset as the hard work hasn't ended, it has just begun. Being back in school and handling hockey after three years off will be a fun challenge as well.”
Stay tuned as more Jets college commitments will be announced in the coming days.