Reece Forman playing for the Minot State Beavers. Breanna Rose Photography.

Athlete in Focus: Reece Forman

Winning the ACHA was a “fairytale” for the former 100 Mile House resident

It began in Squamish, where the five-year-old Reece Forman started playing minor hockey. Soon after he was in Vernon and finally he was in 100 Mile House, buzzing around the rink as a ten-year-old seasoned minor hockey player.

“My biggest influences are definitely my parents; Bill and Carla Forman. While my dad was able to coach me to be a good player on the ice, my mom would always be there to take care of things off of the ice. Not to say she didn’t have her fair share of 6 am morning practices herself though,” said Forman.

Forman started his junior hockey career with the Chase Heat of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), which is now one of the local team’s, the 100 Mile House Wranglers, biggest rivals. However, it’s not like anyone in the area could call him a traitor or anything, as the Wranglers were still known as the Penticton Lakers in the two seasons Forman was in the league.

As a defenceman, he played 99 games in the KIJHL during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, scoring 33 points. He also turned out for two British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) teams during that time. He played two games with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and three games with the Prince George Spruce Kings. Instead, he would make his mark in Junior A hockey in Saskatchewan.

“Playing hockey in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) wasn’t so much of a choice as it was a necessity. Breaking into the BCHL is a tough gig, especially when I was more of a late-bloomer. The BCHL will often have a few 17 year-olds, and sometimes even a couple 16 year-olds,” said Forman. “During the summer before my 19-year-old year I had a decision to make: try out for multiple BCHL teams and hope I make a team; or go play in the SJHL for the Nipawin Hawks for sure as they had already offered me a spot. Instead of gamble my career in the BCHL, my family and I decided it would be best to head to the prairies.”

Forman said living in Nipawin, a little over 1,500 kilometres away, was one of his biggest scares and had many sleepless nights of anxiety. However, it became one of the best things in his life.

“I was blessed to live with such an amazing family that my transition was quite easy. What made things even better was that 100 Mile local (and KIJHL champ with the Wranglers) Brett Harris was going to be my roommate in Nipawin. One of my favourite things about Nipawin; was having a great guy like Brett to be able to make the journey with me.”

After playing two seasons with Nipawin, playing 96 games and scoring 28 points, Foreman was recruited through a Nipawin friend, Blake Fournier, to the Minot State University Beavers in North Dakota. Fournier’s older brother was already established on the American Collegiate Hockey Association team’s roster. The younger Fournier would later join the team, becoming a key piece in their state title this year.

Forman said being a student-athlete was a blessing and a curse, saying at times it was awesome like playing in front of thousands of Minot State fans on a Friday night. However, the long distances all over the U.S. to play games could be stressful, especially when he was trying to maintain a good GPA. The team would travel to Iowa, Colorado, Utah and even Nevada to compete, missing three days of classes.

“Sometimes it would be tough on our grades but thankfully our professors in Minot are always very flexible and allow us to make other arrangements when it came to homework or tests that would otherwise have been missed.”

Foreman was in the university’s Criminal Justice program in the aims of joining the RCMP, an organization he said he has always idolized. He was recently accepted in the police forces depot in Regina after he graduates.

He also mentioned he had several favourable memories in his hockey career, like winning the Peewee Northern BC Winter Fames playing for 100 Mile House, a vividly remembered conversation with his parents after he made the Chase Heat team and winning the ACHA Championship this season.

“Since it is a single game elimination tournament, and there are so many teams in the league, it’s such a hard tournament to win. But more than the fact of winning it was the support that we had all over North America. I had so many notifications on my phone it was amazing. Whether it was past coaches, teammates or family members, it was so cool seeing everyone that congratulated us,” he said. “Winning the title was perfect. My career has now had a storybook ending and I’ll be able to forever remember that I went out on top. The past few months I’ve been extremely worried about my career being over. I’ve often worried about what I would do with all of my free time and I thought that I would miss hockey tremendously. While I’m sure that’s still to come, I strongly believe that winning that last game will make the transition much smoother to working life.

He did mention he had some setbacks though, including the countless conversations with coaches after the end of a tryout informing him he was cut from the team. His most negative memory in hockey was during his sophomore year in Minot. He shattered his humerus attempting a hit and did not play a game for exactly a year and day (it was against the same team he shattered it against). Luckily, the humerus mended back to what he called “semi-normal.”

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