Miami hockey will miss the quiet tenacity and leadership of junior forward Kiefer Sherwood next year, a player who took it upon himself to skate suicide drills after a tough loss.
Sherwood inked a two-year, entry-level contract with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks last week and has since reported to the Ducks’ American Hockey League affiliate, the San Diego Gulls.
“You always have to be ready on and off the ice,” Sherwood said to me on Friday. “Going to college, I owe a lot to Miami and the college and the coaching staff for challenging me to grow. It was a great opportunity to go to Miami, and one I am truly thankful for.”
Sherwood, who turns 23 on Saturday, was an assistant captain for the RedHawks this season and recorded 30 points (9g, 21a) in 36 games.
The Columbus native turned down offers last spring from various NHL teams after recording a collegiate career-high 38 points (14g, 24a) in 36 games. Now, he feels the timing to move up is right.
“I know I’m ready for the next chapter and the next step and to be pushed,” Sherwood said. “I’m going to find a way to get my degree, but in terms of hockey, I’m always ready for a new challenge.”
Sherwood rose to his first challenge on Saturday, when San Diego played the Cleveland Monsters. He wasted no time and scored the overtime winning goal in a 4-3 victory over the Monsters — it was his first professional goal off only his second shot of the night.
“I have goals and ambitions for myself,” Sherwood said. “I’m moving to make them more of a reality and will continue working hard.”
The only other RedHawks who are no longer on campus are three former seniors — defenseman and this season’s captain Louie Belpedio, defenseman Scott Dornbrock and forward and assistant captain Conor Lemirande are continuing their careers in the AHL.
Belpedio, 22, signed an Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO) with the Iowa Wild, the AHL affiliate for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. Belpedio was drafted 80th overall by Minnesota in 2014.
Belpedio’s sharp shot and play-making ability led him to post career-highs in goals (nine), assists (21) and points (30) this past season. His season ranks him fifth in Miami’s history for goals by a defenseman, eighth in scoring and ninth in assists.
Dornbrock, 24, also signed an ATO with the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate for the Colorado Avalanche. The Rampage will welcome Dornbrock as a dependable blue-liner and positive presence on and off the ice.
Lemirande, 24, signed a standard professional contract with the South Carolina Stingrays. The Stingrays are part of the ECHL, a minor league below the AHL, and are affiliated with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Though not a high-scoring forward, at 6’6” Lemirande was a dependable forward for the RedHawks and likely will be as a professional.
Keep checking miamistudent.net to stay up to date with all of Miami hockey’s post-season news.