When asked if he could pronounce his new team’s name, the answer was a shocking yes.
Bart Moran, former co-captain of the Castleton men’s hockey team and 2017 graduate, has signed a professional hockey contract with the Skautafelag Akureyrar of the Icelandic Hockey League.
After Moran graduated last year, he knew that he wanted to continue playing hockey overseas. He wanted to experience a different culture while playing the game he loves. He expressed his interest to his head coach, Bill Silengo, who used his connections to ultimately set up Moran with an agent.
There were initial offers from a couple of teams in France, but both of those teams retracted their offers. Moran thought that he would have to retire before his career even started.
Then an offer was extended from a team in Iceland.
“I had actually thought that playing overseas wasn’t going to happen, but then this contract came up out of the blue,” explained Moran. “Contract talks were pretty straight forward, everything was fair so there wasn’t even much negotiation.”
Moran left his hometown of Calgary on Sept. 18 and arrived the in Iceland the next day.
His first game was that night.
The Icelandic Hockey League is a very small league consisting of only seven teams and only located in Iceland. There are mostly Icelandic players with some imports, mainly from Scandinavian countries. Luckily for Moran, he was told that everyone in Iceland knows how to speak English. The Akureyrars have won 17 championships and are arch rivals with the Skautafelag Reykjavikur.
Since Moran is in a European hockey league, the style of play is a little different than what we are used to in the NHL. The season consists of only 25 games, and the games are less physical. The rinks are international sized, so the players are more dependent on speed than physicality.
Moran is upset by the fewer number of games in a season, but said he is excited for the competition.
“One of my favorite parts of any sport is being able to build up a rivalry and have competition with the same opponents. I find that’s when it gets intense and fun,” he said.
Second-year head coach Bill Silengo described Moran as the ultimate competitor.
“He put in a lot of work and (going overseas) was something he really wanted to do. One of the hardest working kids I’ve ever seen. Really good leader, the guys followed him. He was a great captain here and he deserved it,” Silengo continued. “Any time we needed a big goal or we needed a big hit, you could always count on him.”
A former teammate, co-captain Ryan Mulder, also praised Moran.
“He has worked hard to reach the pro hockey and I know he’ll have success there… I know he’ll represent Castleton hockey with the best of his abilities,” he said.
Moran ended his career at Castleton with a bang. In his senior season, he recorded a team-leading 10 goals along with seven assists. His numbers included eight power-play goals, which was third in Division III. He was a co-captain, and he was named to the NEHC All-Academic Team. Moran finished his career with the third most games played in Spartan history (103), along with 26 goals, 25 assists, and 12 power-play goals.
“Definitely excited to get over there and start playing hockey. I know the landscape is very unique and I love being outdoors so I’m looking forward to explore the nature there,” he said before he left.
After making an impact on the men’s hockey team here at Castleton, he hopes to make an impact in the pros.
And his message for this year’s Castleton team is simple: “Enjoy it and have fun. Oh, and also win.”