Former Flin Flon Bomber Joel Kocur helped the American International College hockey team to a record-setting season.
The Springfield, Mass. school punched its ticket to the NCAA Division I tournament for the first time in its 21-year history. Once there, the 18th-ranked Yellow Jackets made a lot of noise as they knocked off the No. 1 St. Cloud State University, 2-1. Kocur scored the game’s first goal. AIC was the first 16th-seeded team to ever win its first NCAA tournament game versus the top seed.
In the West Regional championship, with a Frozen Four berth on the line, No. 6 University of Denver got by AIC, 3-0. However, the loss does not discount the great season Kocur and the Yellow Jackets had.
“It’s been a very enjoyable season being part of a winning team and atmosphere, as well as winning the regular season for the first time in program history,” Kocur said before the postseason.
AIC posted the first winning record in team history – 23 wins, 17 losses and one tie – en route to an Atlantic Hockey Association championship. The Yellow Jackets earned an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament by winning the AHA tournament title.
Kocur certainly was an important player. In his first two seasons combined, he had seven goals and 18 points. Kocur surpassed both totals in 2018-2019. He posted career highs of 11 goals, 10 assists, and 21 points. Each season Kocur has improved his points total.
“Each year I’ve had a big focus on improving and taking another step with my game in all areas,” Kocur said. “I’ve learned the league more each year and have tried to have a good mindset. I owe a lot of credit to the coaches who have done an unbelievable job working with me everyday.”
Kocur played parts of two seasons for the Bombers starting in 2014-2015. The Edson product had played his first season and a bit of junior hockey in his home province of Alberta with the Whitecourt Wolverines. It was there that he first became teammates with Brandon Switzer. In Flin Flon, the duo would connect with Alex Smith to form the league’s top line in 2015-2016 and lead the Bombers to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League finals.
“I have a lot of fond memories of being a Bomber,” Kocur said. “From my billet family, the Slugoskis, to playing in the best junior hockey atmosphere there is. I’m very thankful for the Bomber organization and the opportunity they gave me.”