Halloran continues Rampage pipeline to NCAA D-I ranks
Nick Halloran headed to the Pacific Northwest this season to play junior hockey, but his heart clearly never left the Rockies.
The Salt Lake City native, who played three seasons of youth hockey in Colorado and said it transformed his outlook on the game, committed in early January to return next season and play for NCAA Division I Colorado College in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
“I had a variety of options, but I liked CC the most,” the 1997 birth year said. “Their staff was approachable and their facilities are second to none.”
Halloran, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound forward with a scorer’s touch, will become the second member of his family to play Division I hockey in Colorado. His older brother, Alex, played at the U.S. Air Force Academy (Atlantic Hockey) from 2011-15.
After playing AA hockey for the Utah Regulators and Renegades through Bantams, Halloran landed on the eastern side of the Rockies for three years of Midget AAA hockey, including his final two with the Colorado Rampage, where he played with A.J. Vanderbeck, another future Colorado College commit.
“There was better competition with four AAA programs and overall, Colorado is a good area for hockey at every level,” he said.
The game changers for him, he said, were Rampage coaches Andrew Sherman and Pat Bingham.
“Andrew and Pat helped me develop my game the most,” Halloran said.
“Pat knows his stuff from the structural side as well as anyone. He taught me where to be for offensive opportunities and also how to be strong defensively, which is very important as you move up in the game.
“Andrew inspires you and teaches you work ethic. Not only did I become better as a player under him, but better as a person.”
The commitment Halloran received from his Rampage coaches didn’t end when the final whistle blew at practice.
“It is amazing how involved Andrew is with everything he does,” Halloran said. “He definitely cares about his players. He’s always asking us how we were doing off the ice. He and the other coaches made sure we were on top of our schoolwork.
“But the important thing they teach is work ethic. You don’t have to be the most talented guy but if you work hard – no matter what you’re doing – you’ll get there.”
“There” for Halloran was playing college hockey. Having Colorado College, Air Force and the University of Denver close and Division I hockey accessible was beneficial, he said.
“It’s fun to go to Magness (Arena), Air Force (Cadet Arena) or World Arena for games – it was something to strive for and look up to,” he said. “Seeing college hockey made me want to push myself so hopefully some day, I could play at that level.”
Armed with his youth hockey training, Halloran has emerged as the leading scorer this season for the Trail Smoke Eaters of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with 35 points on 20 goals and 15 assists through 41 games. The point total placed him in the top 30 in the high-flying BCHL, eighth among rookies, while the 20 goals had him 16th.
He’s also become a key special teams contributor for the Smoke Eaters, with six power-play goals and three short-handed tallies, tied for second most in the league.
The BCHL has been a natural fit for him.
“It’s a fun, fast-paced game and it’s my kind of style,” he said. “My brother played in the league (with the Cowichan Valley Capitals from 2009-11), and he liked it and suggested I look into it. I figured it would be a good fit, and it has been.”
Just like playing hockey in the Rockies.
— Chris Bayee