BONNYVILLE – A regular face on the R.J. Lalonde ice, Kash Rasmussen dons the Bonnyville Pontiacs jersey #12, and next to it sits the letter C signifying his extra role on the Jr. A hockey team — captain.
Although Rasmussen’s presence on the home team bench will be missed, the 20-year-old Cochrane local will be moving on to greater challenges and successes ahead.
Near the end of September, the leftwinger announced he has committed to studying Human Sciences at Michigan Technological University and playing for the Huskies, the school’s hockey team, next season.
“Honestly, it's a dream come true for myself, I've always been working to get this goal so it's been a good week for me and I’m just looking forward to getting going at Michigan Tech,” Rasmussen told Lakeland This Week.
Before being scouted to play for the Michigan Tech Huskies, Rasmussen said he tried not to worry about who may be watching, and simply focused on his game.
“(What’s) important is to stick to what you got and hopefully they like what they see,” he said.
Grateful to be spotted and invited to wear a jersey for a great hockey program, Rasmussen will move on to the next level in his journey toward professional hockey.
"It's a great program and I think it suits my game really well. The CCHA is a league that I think I can develop in,” he said. "It's a pretty surreal moment. You work your whole life for that and the fact that it's happening now — I'm happy and excited.”
The Michigan Tech Huskies play in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), a league known for its high level and quality of college hockey. The CCHA is one of six Division 1 men's ice hockey conferences in the NCAA and is also considered one of the top development leagues in the world for the NHL.
“Pro hockey has always been my goal. I mean if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen, you still have a good degree that's why you go to school,” he said, adding the transition to university studies and hockey will be a greater responsibility, but worth the investment of time and energy.
“I know it's going to be more of a challenge just because our schedule is really busy. I've got to make time for (classes) and maybe sacrificing other things, but school’s important so you got to do it and that's just how I think about it.”
Moving to Bonnyville at 16 years old to pursue his training and love of the sport, Rasmussen says his parents are excited to see this latest achievement after years of continued commitment to the game.
“They have always known I wanted to go to college and it didn't really matter where because they would travel anywhere to see me, which is nice to know. They are happy with Michigan Tech and I'm happy with it too. I think they're just excited to get out and watch me make my next step in my career.”
Rasmussen has played with the Pontiacs for five seasons with a short-break off the ice due to a serious ACL tear during the 2018-19 season.
“Every day of my life, pretty much, I play hockey. And when that schedule changes because you're not allowed to do anything physical, it's just tough on the brain because you have to change your mental aspect and you see all your friends and all your teammates are playing and you're sitting at home in bed and doing nothing really, just except for school, so it was tough,” he recalls.
Returning to the game in the 2019-20 season following his injury, Rasmussen worked hard. He more than doubled his goals and assists from his previous year with the Pontiacs, scoring 11 goals and 17 assists.
“The starting was tough, but once I got comfortable with my knee and made sure it's alright, everything started to come together again, which was nice to see and the team and my teammates were great with me. They gave me some time to get back into that zone that I used to be in,” he said.
Rick Swan, the Pontiacs’ coach and general manager said, “(Rasmussen) is a player who has gone through more adversity than any other player that I've ever coached. He understands and fully embraced the inner drive that it takes to be a successful player.”
Swan says, along with having “an earn-it mentality,” Rasmussen’s perseverance is a model for players to come back harder when they face an injury, which is exactly what he did.
"He couldn't be more deserving of getting this opportunity because he's the one player that has put in the work both physically and mentally to ensure he created the best exposure for himself," said Swan.
So far this season, Rasmussen has one goal and one assist. He is also the 97th Pontiac player since the 2013-14 season to have accepted a spot in a collegiate hockey program.