Liberty DI men's recruit Mistal brings experience
May 17, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Seeking to strengthen an offense that loses Rick Turner and Brent Boschman, two of the top scorers in program history, Liberty University Division I men's hockey head coach Kirk Handy announced Friday that Brandon Mistal, a forward who played five years in the Junior "A" British Columbia Hockey League, will join the Flames this fall.
As captain of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Mistal, who turned 21 on April 1, ranked fourth on the team in scoring with 13 goals and 22 assists this past season.
"He's someone who can definitely make an impact right away, who can play in a lot of different situations," said Handy, who likes the qualities Mistal brings on and off the ice. "He's a class act with strong leadership abilities. He's a very well spoken guy who, just in the time we've gotten to know him, I've been really impressed with his character and his demeanor. On the ice, he's going to be a guy we can count on on both sides of the rink, a two-way hockey player who has a good scoring knack."
Mistal played more than 200 games in five years in the BCHL, expending his five years of junior eligibility before deciding on a college.
"I'm a pretty smart player, pretty quick," said Mistal, who plans to pursue a business degree at Liberty. "I'm hoping to contribute any way I can and hopefully step in, work hard, and be a leader in every aspect I can. If we can get some good players in and spread the scoring out over two or three lines, or even all four lines, that would be great for us."
Mistal was named the Silverbacks' most sportsmanlike player for the second straight season. His Christian beliefs played a large role in leading him to Liberty.
"I grew up in a Christian home and that's always been an important part of my life and my family's life," Mistal said. "My faith in the hockey world has been something that I could always lean on, something that I'm rock solid with, and know that's something that's always there for me."
Dave Semenyna, who serves as an assistant coach under Handy, contacted Silverbacks' team chaplain Kenny Toews, who identified Mistal as a potential good fit.
Mistal visited campus in April, staying with fellow Canadians Ryan Kerr and Jackson Kuhn, and was sold on the program.
"The guys were great," he said. "When I came back, it seemed like a no-brainer to go there. Mixing hockey with a faith-based environment is something that really interested me and something I wanted to jump at, for sure."
While about half of Liberty's roster is from Canada, most, including Kerr and Kuhn, are from Ontario, north of the Great Lakes. The only player from the westernmost province of British Columbia is Tyson Street, a freshman forward from Vancouver.
"It will be a bit of an adjustment," Mistal said. "I moved away when I was 16, but that was only a half-hour away from home, not all the way across the country. I'm excited for it. It's going to be a great experience. There are so many places you can get to within three hours of Lynchburg. That's one of the reasons I wanted to play in the (United) States."
He is a huge fan of the Chicago Blackhawks and looks forward to visiting that city, site of this year's ACHA Division I national championships, in the near future.
"God willing, I can, for sure, be at Liberty four years and we can get a national championship," Mistal said.