Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/3/2011 (3317 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For a guy who has put his pro hockey dream on hold, Matt Lowry is still spending a lot of time in skates these days.
After one season of pro-fessional hockey, the former Brandon Wheat Kings standout from Neepawa has spent this winter red-shirting with the University of Manitoba Bisons, while playing in the Tiger Hills Hockey League for his hometown Neepawa Farmers.
The Farmers, a first-year team, are still going strong in the THHL playoffs, visiting the Pilot Mound Pilots tonight (at 8:30) to open a semifinal series. They're also getting ready to play for the provincial Senior A title and are affiliated with the Ile des Chenes North Stars, who are trying to qualify for the Allan Cup Canadian Senior AA championship, keeping Lowry very busy ins the process.
"I haven't played with a lot of my friends since I was playing bantam with them, in middle school I guess," said Lowry, who is ineligible to play with the Bisons until next season because of his year of pro hockey.
"I've enjoyed it. We've had a lot of fun. We've had some good success and I've been able to do a lot of things that I haven't been able to do for a lot of those years while I was away playing hockey, wherever I was. So I am enjoying it, but part of me can't wait until I can start playing with the Bisons next year."
That Lowry would be back on his home province, juggling all these roles, is something he didn't see coming last fall. He had just come off his rookie pro season, split between the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators and the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL, and had signed for another ECHL season with the Idaho Steelheads. After going to the AHL camp with the Texas Stars, Lowry was reassigned to the Steelheads, only to be released.
"There were a few players like myself that were in a tough situation where they signed a contract and thought they had a place to play and it turned out the organization decided to go a different route," he said. "... So it was quite a letdown when that happened, but after a week or so, I kind of got my head wrapped around that I would come to university and start a new chapter with the Bisons."
Lowry, who turned 23 yesterday, had earned a year of scholarship money for each of his three seasons win the Western Hockey League with the Wheat Kings and the Medicine Hat Tigers, some-thing he would have lost had he played another season of pro hockey. With that in mind, he decided to pursue his agriculture degree now and push pro hockey to the back of his mind, although not completely out.
"I keep telling myself to finish university and graduate and get a piece of paper with my name on it, then hopefully move on to play some more hockey outside of the university level, maybe go back down and play pro or if I'm lucky enough, go play in Europe maybe," he said.
In the meantime, Lowry has joined the likes of longtime pro Kirby Law and senior veteran Rick Scott to make the Farmers a formidable team. They went 18-0-1 in the THHL regular season and have shown no sign of slowing down.
"I think it's a great thing for Neepawa," Lowry said.
"There's a lot of local guys that are around and so it's nice for the community to be able to watch players that they know of and cheer them on. They've been great support and we've had really good fans and I think it's nice that they can come out and watch someone that they grew up with or they work with or whatever it may be, and it's been really good so far."