Former Kootenay Ice forward commits to Michigan-Dearborn

Whitehorse product Johnny Elias will play for NAIA University of Michigan Wolverines

Former Kootenay Ice forward Johnny Elias is on his way to play college hockey in the U.S.

Elias has come a long way, literally, moving from Whitehorse, Yukon to Trail in 2016 to play with the BC U18 AAA Kootenay Ice. Last month, the 20-year-old forward committed to the University of Michigan-Dearborn Wolverines.

Elias played for the Kootenay Ice as a 16 year old, before moving on to the North Island Silvertips and then the KIJHL.

The talented forward landed in Fernie with the Ghostriders in 2018, and last season tallied 19 goals and 51 points in 47 games, and an impressive 50 pims for the feisty five-foot-eight player.

“First and foremost, I have to give a lot of credit to (coach) Jeff Wagner and the Fernie Ghostriders for what they have done for me,” Elias said in a KIJHL release. “Revitalized my hockey career. Their constant devotion to developing and moving players on whilst maintaining a top-tier organization is unprecedented in the KIJHL.”

The U of Michigan-Dearborn is a powerhouse in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), sweeping the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) regular-season and tournament championships in 2019-20, and qualifying for a fifth consecutive ACHA National Tournament.

Elias couldn’t help but be impressed with Wolverines’ coach Chris Haltinner and the school’s winning tradition.

“He (Haltinner) has done a tremendous job recruiting and building a first-class program, which we could see right out of the gate,” says Elias. “The fact that they are in the hunt for a national championship year after year didn’t hurt the case either.”

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