Miners 18U players see valuable time at USHL, NAHL levels
A pair of first-year Pikes Peak Miners 18U AAA players recently joined Junior A teams for practices and games and now know what it takes to advance to the next level.
Defenseman Preston Weeks (North American Hockey League’s Kenai River Brown Bears) and goaltender Jeremy Swayman (United States Hockey League’s Tri-City Storm), two Alaska natives, left the Miners and took in the whole junior hockey experience last month.
“The opportunity at Kenai (in his home state) is huge and it gets me a chance to experience what the life of a junior player is like on and off the ice,” Weeks said. “It’s fun to be around a different group of guys for a while and share stories.”
“Getting the chance to travel in mid-season to Kearney, Neb., to play with a high-level organization such as Tri-City was truly incredible,” said Swayman. “I soaked up as much information as I could. I was fortunate to have a few goalie sessions with the goalie coach (Taylor Nelson). Spending time with the best truly gave me the realization on where I stand as a goaltender and what I must do to achieve a position at a high level.”
Swayman also dressed for two games at home against the Waterloo Black Hawks as the team’s backup goalie.
“I got to lead the team out on the ice before the games and having 2,500 fans screaming created an extremely high amount of adrenaline that I want to experience again soon,” added Swayman.
And while both Weeks and Swayman have aspirations to play college hockey and in the NHL down the road, it’s now back to business and the present with the Miners.
“I want to win a Colorado state championship and an NAPHL championship,” said Weeks. “I think we have the team to do it.”
Swayman agreed with his teammate.
“I hope to bring the hardware home,” Swayman said.
— Matt Mackinder