Bradley moves on to pro career

When Paul Bradley stepped onto the ice for his first game with the Royal Military College Paladins in 2005, there was little evidence that he would wind up where he did this season: pursuing a master’s degree in history and playing hockey for the Golden Hawks.

In his fifth and final season playing university hockey this past year with the Hawks, Bradley led the team in goals, assists and points, and was named an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) First Team All-Star.

He now plays for the Central Hockey League’s regular season champion Odessa Jackalopes, an affiliate club of the New York Islanders.

“I feel like I took a pretty unique way of getting to where I am,” said the Calgary native. “I didn’t get drafted [to the CHL], I was passed over for the NCAA scholarship I wanted and I wasn’t on a lot of radars going into RMC.”

The hockey program at RMC has been less than competitive in the last few years, and Bradley was able to step right in and be a go-to guy immediately. In all but one of his four seasons for the Paladins, he led the team in scoring putting up strong numbers on a perennially mediocre team.

In his first year with the Paladins, the team’s head coach was current Laurier coach Kelly Nobes, who saw an OUA star in Bradley.

“Kelly Nobes was the major reason I ended up at Laurier,” said Bradley. “He brought me to RMC and he brought me to Laurier. He knew what I could do five years ago, and whether or not he knows it, he is a major reason I am where I am. He’s a great guy and a great coach who has done a great job.”

With the loss of star offensive producers Nick Vergeer and Mark Voakes coming into this season, the addition of Bradley to the purple and gold line-up was timely.

After some experimenting with various line combinations throughout the season, Nobes finally settled on keeping Bradley and Hawks’ captain Jean-Michel Rizk together on what turned out to be a dominant first line.

“My friend and line-mate Jean-Michel Rizk deserves the most credit on the ice,” said Bradley. “He is the best all-around player in the league, and I will argue that one to the death.

“He will be playing in the AHL or even the NHL one day; I’d put money on it.”

Bradley has proved himself to be a reliable two-way forward, with outstanding offensive instincts and tremendous leadership potential. Nobes played him in all situations this past year, and he contributed 42 points.