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Bonnyville's Austin Saint skates south to continue hockey career

Saint played parts of five seasons with the Bonnyville Pontiacs and two years with the Royal Military College hockey team before signing with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL in February.

BONNYVILLE - A familiar face on the Bonnyville Pontiacs squad for several years, Austin Saint has ascended into the ranks of professional hockey. On Feb. 16, Saint signed with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL.

Moving to South Carolina to play hockey has been a good experience for Saint, who grew up in Bonnyville, and has had his sights set on playing pro hockey for a long time.  

“It’s pretty cool to get paid to play the game that you’ve been playing your whole life, so that’s something I’m not taking for granted,” he told Lakeland This Week. “It almost feels surreal a little bit, just to kind of be playing pro hockey when three years ago, four years ago, it didn’t seem like that was possible.” 

During his time with the Bonnyville Pontiacs, Saint, now 22, earned 31 goals, 26 assists, and 57 points in 94 games. From there, he played for two years with the Royal Military College (RMC) hockey team in Kingston, Ont.  

Hoping to sign a contract and play professionally after his second year of school, Saint got his agent to check around with teams. Some of the teams showed interest in the Bonnyville native, including the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, who serve as the ECHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings.   

Saint weighed his options, which were to either play professional hockey on the east coast or in Europe.  

“I talked to some close family and some relatives, and decided the best decision for me was to sign here in Greenville,” he said.  

In addition to being a great place to play hockey, with a warm climate as a bonus, Greenville has also provided ample opportunities for Saint to develop his skills on the ice. Going from Bonnyville to South Carolina has also given him an opportunity to travel and experience new places, unique experiences, and get to know other hockey players from diverse backgrounds. 

However, regarding playing hockey, it’s largely the same daily regimen in South Carolina.\ 

“I think typically the day you go through, whether it’s in Canada or the United States, as a hockey player is pretty similar,” he said.  

While the season continues for the Swamp Rabbits, Saint has been off the ice for a few weeks after sustaining injuries. He played seven games where he acquired five points and four goals.  

But during the start of his eighth game, which was between the Swamp Rabbits and the Orlando Solar Bears, he went into the boards the wrong way, and his arm got stuck, which resulted in a dislocated shoulder, two broken bones, along with a partially torn labrum and rotator cuff.  

 Saint had shoulder surgery two and a half weeks ago.  

Despite this setback, Saint is hopeful that within the next few weeks, he will be able to get back into the game. Depending on how the Swamp Rabbits move through the playoffs, he says he could potentially lace up and go out and play in the final rounds. 

With his future in professional hockey in mind, Saint is hoping to get to an NHL development camp in the summer. After that, he will decide whether to stay in the ECHL for another year, or longer.  

From there, Saint says he would like to move on to the American Hockey League (AHL) and hopefully make it to the NHL.    

“My goal is obviously one day to play in the NHL,” he said.  

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