Kamerin Nault of the Bison men’s hockey team is having a breakout year.
Nault took a bit of an unconventional route to get to the University of Manitoba. He played B division high school hockey for the Garden City Gophers in his Grade 10 year after being cut from the Winnipeg AAA Hawks.
The next season, he tried out again for the Hawks, only to be cut again. The Winnipeg AAA Monarchs offered him a spot, but Nault elected to stay with Garden City after learning they would move up to the A division his Grade 11 year. It all paid off when Nault was off playing for the Winnipeg Blues of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in his final year of high school.
During his two seasons with the Gophers, Nault played 43 games, scoring 31 goals and adding 30 assists for 61 points.
“I was a late developer, I was a small guy,” Nault said. “It seemed to work really well all in the end.”
Nault racked up 203 points (98 G, 105 A) in 208 career games with the Blues, averaging just under one point per game. In 2014, he and teammate Byron Spriggs won the MJHL Championship with the Blues, and in 2016 Nault was named an MJHL Second Team All Star.
Nault played in 11 games last season for the Bisons, scoring only one goal. This season he’s blown those numbers out of the water. In 14 games so far this season, Nault has a team-best seven goals and five assists for 12 points. The Winnipeg native has found success centring a line of Michael St. Croix and Zach Franko, a line created when the Bisons were across the pond in Scotland and Ireland.
“I was given the opportunity over in Europe to play with Zach and Michael and I think those two guys helped find my confidence and my scoring touch again,” Nault said. “They make the game very easy to play and so I think that’s been a big key is my good linemates.”
After a forgettable rookie campaign statistically, Nault went back to his old habits in the off season.
“I did a lot more on-ice training, before my first year I came in really good shape I did a lot of off-ice training,” he said. “I decided I wanted to get back to how I used to train and the way I play is a more skilled game. I decided that was more beneficial to me it seems to be working so far.”
Of Nault’s seven goals this season, a few of them have come at key times. Nault scored a crucial goal to tie things up against the Saskatchewan Huskies on Oct. 20 en route to a Bison overtime win. On Nov. 11, Nault scored the game winner in the second overtime against the Regina Cougars. The next weekend he scored with four seconds left against Lethbridge to send the game to overtime, a game the Bisons eventually lost.
“I’ve always liked being out there in the last minute of every game to try and help the team win so I think just given the opportunity I try to make the most of it,” Nault said.
Manitoba’s tough schedule to start the season has helped the team according to Nault, as the Bisons were able to see where they stack up in the Canada West.
“I think it’s better for us in the long run. I think obviously at the time it’s a tough grind I think it lets you know where you stack up and what you need to improve on,” he said. “Obviously those are the two top teams, they always seem to be in the finals every year so those are the teams you want to measure yourself against.”