Princeton hockey alumnus Kyle Rankin signed with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL in the August to continue his professional career.
“They reached out to me and I had a good talk with the management and the coaching staff and it seemed like a great fit and a great place to start my first professional season,” Rankin said.
Rankin began his professional career with the Brampton Beast, joining the team in March after the conclusion of his Princeton career. He played in six games and registered zero points.
“I learned that there’s a lot of skilled players in that league and only 10 forwards dress a game, so the lines roll pretty quickly,” Rankin said. “I just kind of learned more the ins and the outs of pro hockey and I definitely think it was a good experience going there because I definitely feel more prepared heading this year.”
The Ottawa native joined Brampton on March 7 and signed the next morning, two days after Princeton’s playoff series loss to Clarkson. The Tigers dropped both games in the opening-round series to the Golden Knights in overtime
“It’s a bit more of a methodical game than the college game. The college game is run and gun, people are dumping pucks left and right and finishing every hit with a huge bang, and that’s not necessarily the way it’s done in the pros,” Rankin said. “Guys are quite poised with the puck, I think they’re a little smarter with their decision making with the puck so that’s definitely something I’ve been focusing on in my summer training.”
The Sioux Falls Stampede alumnus spent his summer working out at Fitquest, an organization run by Ottawa Sentator strength coach Chris Schwarz. Rankin said he worked on off-ice conditioning but focused on on-ice training.
“My goals are just to improve every day, get better every day,” Rankin said. “Pro hockey’s obviously a journey, it’s something that’s new for me. But I think everyone plays with the goal of improving their game and giving themselves a chance to play at higher and higher level.”
Rankin played in 117 games over a four-year period with Princeton and served as a co-captain in his senior year. He scored 31 points.
“I learned that if I was going to play, I had to play in all three zones. I definitely think I improved my ability to be reliable in all areas of the ice and definitely upped my physical play from when I came in there when I was 19 or so,” Rankin said. “So I have those things going forward. I’ve always considered myself a very strong skater so [I’m] just really worked on puck skills and looking to make good decisions with the puck heading into this year.”
Last season, Rankin appeared in 31 games, registered nine points and earned the team’s award for dedication and perseverance.
“I love playing hockey, I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t love it and I’m excited for a fresh start,” Rankin said. “I’m excited for a new opportunity. Princeton was fantastic obviously but it’ll be fun to get the opportunity to play at a higher level and never take it for granted.”