It took a little longer than both would have liked, but a pair of Semiahmoo Peninsula hockey players have places to play this season.
In the last week, Colten Tuebert and Colton Gillies – both former National Hockey League first-round picks – have signed with pro teams.
Teubert, 23, has decided to take his talents overseas for the 2013/14 season. The South Surrey defenceman – and former Valley West Hawk of the BC Major Midget League – signed last week with the Iserlohn Roosters of the German Bundesliga, the top pro league in Germany.
The 23-year-old former first-round pick of the Los Angeles Kings, played last season in the Edmonton Oilers system, splitting time between Edmonton and the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL.
Gillies, meanwhile, will stay a little closer to home – on the same continent, at least.
After being released from a professional tryout with the Buffalo Sabres last month, the 24-year-old forward signed a one-year contract directly with the Sabres’ American Hockey League farm club, the Rochester Americans.
The six-foot-four left winger, who played 27 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season before getting cut loose in the summer, scored in his debut preseason game with Rochester last week. The AHL regular season began Friday.
Gillies, a Semiahmoo Minor Hockey alum, has 154 games of NHL experience, scoring six goals and adding 12 assists. He was the 16th overall pick, chosen by the Minnesota Wild, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He was waived by the Wild during the 2011/12 season.
“I’m just thankful for the chance to play,” Gillies told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper last week, after a Sabres’ practice and prior to signing with the Americans.
“I’ve obviously been through a lot and I’ve definitely had my fair share of downs. But I also learned a lot with Minnesota and with Columbus.”
The South Surrey resident won’t be the only player with local ties to suit up in the AHL this season.
The Abbotsford Heat will have Cloverdale’s Tyler Wotherspoon on its blue line.
Wotherspoon was among the last cuts of the Calgary Flames last month, and will be playing his first season as a professional after a junior career spent with the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks.
Wotherspoon was expected to be joined in Abbotsford by fellow Flames’ draft pick and Cloverdale resident Laurent Brossoit.
Brossoit, a netminder, was originally slated to be one of two goaltenders on the Heat roster, but when the Flames decided to demote goaltender Reto Berra to the AHL club, it knocked Brossoit down a rung, and he was assigned to the Alaska Aces of the ECHL.
Like Wotherspoon, Brossoit is entering his first professional season – he spent his junior career with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Other AHLers who will be familiar to South Surrey and White Rock hockey fans included former Surrey Eagles’ star defenceman Tyler Eckford – a member of the Birds’ 2005 Fred Page Cup championship team – who will suit up for the Binghampton Senators, the affiliate club of the Ottawa Senators.
Joining Eckford – a veteran of five AHL seasons – in Binghampton will be former BCHL netminder Andrew Hammond.
Hammond played briefly with the Surrey Eagles before being dealt to Vernon, where he played from 2007-09. After wrapping up a four year collegiate career at Bowling Green State University last spring, he signed as a free agent with Ottawa.
Another former Surrey Eagles’ netminder, Andrew Hunt, is also on the move.
The 21-year-old Surrey native, who played for the Eagles for parts of three season from 2009-’12, signed last week with Swedish pro club, Borlange HF.
“Very excited to be headed to Sweden… can’t wait to hit the ice!” Hunt wrote from his Twitter account Oct. 3.
Hunt played last year in the NCAA, with Clarkson University.