(Courtesy of Perry Bergson, The Brandon Sun) — The University of Calgary Dinos are taking on a distinctly Brandon Wheat Kings flair.
James Shearer has decided to attend the school and play hockey, joining former Wheat King teammates Tyler Coulter of Brandon and Jordan Papirny of Edmonton.
The five-foot-nine, 188-pound defenceman said they were a factor as he made his decision.
“I think that helped quite a bit,” Shearer said. “They have the firsthand experience of everything and they know what it’s like out there and how the coach coaches and what the school is like and everything. I definitely used them a lot and asked a lot of questions. They were great contributors and helped me a lot throughout the process.”
Shearer had also considered attending the University of Manitoba and University of Waterloo but ultimately decided Calgary was a better fit.
He plans to study business, with a future goal of going into accounting and eventually forensic accounting.
“Talking with some of the guys I know and the coach, I have some family out there and have been out there a few times and really like the city,” Shearer said. “Just looking into the school and the hockey program, they’re both first class and I think it will be a great fit for me.”
After two seasons with the midget AAA Wheat Kings, Shearer played his 17-year-old season with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Steinbach Pistons in 2014-15, earning rookie of the year honours.
Eight games and 12 points into the 2015-16 MJHL season, Shearer elected to join his hometown Wheat Kings, making his WHL debut in Saskatoon on Oct. 17, 2015 as the team headed out on its annual West Coast trip. Brandon went to win the WHL title, with Shearer and Wawanesa product Jordan Thomson on the third defensive pairing.
In his three-year WHL career, Shearer played 146 career Western Hockey League regular-season games and 36 more in the playoffs with the Wheat Kings, putting up a combined 54 points.
Shearer’s final season with the Wheat Kings was certainly a roller coaster ride. An off-season Achilles injury restricted him to just 43 regular-season games and he was never fully 100 per cent.
But he was named team captain after Tanner Kaspick was traded on Jan. 10, a special honour for the Brandonite.
Shearer said the ankle is fine now, although it is slightly thicker than the other one and can be a little bit stiff in the morning when he gets out of bed.
He said he’s looking forward to moving on to the next thing after junior hockey.
“It’s definitely going to be a big change and a big step,” Shearer said. “It’s kind of like the next stage of my life. It’s a little farther away from home than I’ve been before. I lived in Steinbach for a bit but with the guys I know and a little bit of family out there — and all my friends and family back here were really supportive — that’s going to help me a lot. I know if I ever need to talk to anybody that I have a lot of people to talk to. I’m very excited for it.”
He’s working at a seed warehouse this summer, driving a forklift, stacking pallets and making deliveries.
Shearer is enthused about the prospect of starting school and stepping on the ice with a new team.
“I think that’s kind of what I’m most excited about,” Shearer said. “It’s almost like a blank slate. I’m starting over and there are going to be a lot of new faces and new buildings. I think it will be a lot of fun and I’ll learn as I go along.”