It took about a year and a half, and plenty of soul-searching, but Jared Hamm is finally going to play college hockey.
The Notre Dame forward committed last week to the Minot State University Beavers of ACHA Division I hockey in North Dakota after posting 117 points in 149 games over three excellent Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League campaigns with the Hounds.
Although Hamm has not played a competitive game since Feb. 29, 2020, ND’s final contest of the 2019-2020 season, the hunger to compete at the next level never quite died for the 1999-born centreman.
“It’s hard to describe (how great it feels) to be honest,” he says.
“It’s been a year and a half since I last played (competitively), but I am getting another opportunity to play the sport I love, so it’s hard to be more excited than I am right now. With Covid, I had lots of time to think. I was working in La Ronge, and after visiting my parents (back in Warman) one weekend, driving back up to La Ronge, I was thinking to myself about how it was eerily similar to driving up to face the Ice Wolves like I did over the years and I really started missing it.”
Hamm acted on that impulse immediately and called Notre Dame coach/general manager Brett Pilkington, and the coach responded that he had what it took to be an impact player at the college level, and reached out to a wide variety of interested parties.
New Minot head coach Wyatt Waselenchuk showed the most interest, got in touch with Hamm quickly, and all that was left was for Jared to make sure it was the right fit for him.
In doing so, Hamm reached out to former Notre Dame teammate and current Beaver Austin Wieler.
“I texted with Austin a bunch and when he heard I was interested, he was a really big help,” Hamm says.
“He told me a lot about the school-side of it, ice-time, the team and the guys, the dorm situations, pretty much any questions I had he was there and it has been really awesome having his help in figuring all this stuff out. He made the whole process a lot smoother than it would have been.”
Hamm, a shifty playmaker with elite vision, represented Saskatchewan at the 2015 Canada Winter Games, and finished second in assists and third in points at the Sask U18 level in 2016-17. The Warman native was an SJHL All-Rookie team member in 2017-18, finishing second in points among rookies that year to current Ferris State University NCAA Division I forward Cade Kowalski.
For Hamm, it was just as much about missing the comradery off the ice as using his dazzling skills on it that brought him fully to the decision to take another shot at playing the game at a high level.
“(Hockey) is a brotherhood,” he says.
“Every day it’s special and it all passes by a lot faster than I expected to. I missed being on the ice, playing hockey, and there is something so special about going out there making plays, it’s a really good feeling. I can only play (competitive) hockey for a certain amount of time…I kind of realized that I have to make the most of what I have. I have a little bit of talent that is still wanted by teams…I am more than happy to bring my skillset to Minot and I am going to give my all for the school and team and look to enjoy it every day.”