That’s a big reason why the 24-year-old Tatamagouche hockey standout spent six weeks mulling over his opportunities for next season. On Tuesday, Fraser came to a decision and signed his first professional contract with the Evansville IceMen of the East Coast Hockey League.
“I’m feeling really good about it,” Fraser told the Truro Daily News. “I put my trust in my agent at the beginning of the summer to see what’s out there, and he came back with a few options for me.”
With other teams requesting his services in the Coast, as well as offers to travel to Europe, Fraser wanted to do what was best for his future.
“I took my time with it,” he said. “I talked it over with my friends and family, and made sure it was the best decision for me.”
Fraser is coming off his senior year with the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers, where he was a leading scorer in the Atlantic University Sport conference – arguably the best collegiate league in the country. Like many players coming from university, including a pair of former teammates in Hungary, the European route tempted Fraser.
“It’s a chance to see the world and make a little more money than you would in North America, so yeah, it was tempting. But I decided this route was best for me right now.”
After a number of conversations with IceMen head coach Dwight Mullins, Fraser began leaning towards the Indiana-based team, despite not knowing much about the area.
“I don’t really know much about Evansville,” he said. “It’s a town of about 100,000 people, so it’s not too big. But that’s about all I know.”
Last season, the Icemen finished fourth in their division and missed out on a playoff spot in a tough Eastern Conference. This season, the team boasts several new recruits, including Fraser and longtime AUS and MHL opponent R.D. Chisholm.
“I didn’t really know any of the guys down there, but I just found out R.D. signed now too,” Fraser said of the longtime Bridgewater Lumberjack and St. Francis Xavier defenseman. “I’ve played against him for years and have gotten to know him, so I’m happy to have him there with me.”
With the team’s affiliation with the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League and the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League, Fraser will have the opportunity to impress his way up the chain.
He points to UPEI teammate Jared Gomes as an example of a player who did just that, having made the jump from AUS to ECHL to AHL in less than a year.
“My goal ultimately is to get to that next level, that’s where I want to be,” Fraser said. “This is the next step in doing that.”
Fraser will take off for Evansville, Indiana – a city on the Ohio River once voted in a magazine poll the “best place to live, work and play” in the United States – in late September. Despite not knowing much about the town, Fraser is excited for the new opportunity.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking, but it’s all about the new experiences, you know, getting out of Truro and meeting new people.”