Defenseman transferring in from NCAA DIII program brings leadership, physicality
Colten Kovich, a 6-foot, 3-inch, 205-pound defenseman from Coquitlam, British Columbia, received clearance this week to transfer to Liberty University’s ACHA Division I men’s hockey team from NCAA Division III Albertus Magnus (Conn.) College, the same school Flames rising senior goalie Hunter Virostek transferred from in January 2020.
He will be eligible to play for Liberty as a sophomore in the 2022-23 season and will have four years of ACHA DI eligibility.
“I saw Liberty as a better opportunity, and just thought it was a better fit for me with the philosophies of the program and the resources of the school in general,” Kovich said. “I (saw) the professionalism shown by the coaches and how great everyone was in terms of being helpful and willing to answer any questions you might have. I like the atmosphere and the guys there, and really love the coaching staff.”
He said the spiritual camaraderie and positivity within the program was evident.
“The guys are totally bought-in and everyone’s there for each other, always willing to help you when you need it,” Kovich said. “It’ll be like a good fresh clean start. Everyone just wants you to be successful. I am already counting down the days, looking to get out to a hot start there.”
Previously, Kovich, 22, played 172 games (including 15 in the playoffs) with the Langley Rivermen in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) from 2017-20. After serving as an alternate captain for his final season with the Rivermen, he was named head captain of the Coquitlam Express in the BCHL for 2020-21 before COVID-19 canceled all but three games.
“Kovich is an older guy with a year of college hockey under his belt, and a guy who has a good amount of junior hockey experience,” Flames Head Coach Kirk Handy said. “He is someone who is going to be a steady defenseman and be effective for us on the back end. He is a big body and he plays a physical brand of hockey, and I think he’ll be a great guy to bump into the lineup.”
Kovich, whose younger brother, Kyler, is a rising sophomore left wing for NCAA Division I Cornell University’s hockey team, describes himself as a shut-down defenseman who likes to assist on attack.
“I like playing a more gritty game,” he said. “I love winning corner battles and getting into those dirty areas, as well as blocking shots and making that first pass (to start a fast break). If the opportunity is presented, I do like to get up to the play and throw pucks on net from the point and be that guy to jump in and sneak by the guys and beat them backdoor.”
He would love to eventually move into a leadership role with the Flames, to fire them up both on and off the ice.
“I like being a voice out there, hyping guys up, being an energy guy, and just having fun too,” Kovich said. “When the boys are rolling and we are winning, there’s no better feeling. I hear a lot about pursuing national championships. What I’d like to do is win, and I am definitely looking forward to it.”
Besides touring the LaHaye Ice Center on his recent campus stop, Kovich visited the School of Business, where he plans to pursue a B.S. in Business Administration: Entrepreneurship.
“I’ve been to a few NCAA DI schools, too, and Liberty is mind-blowing in terms of sheer size and everything that’s there,” said Kovich, who wants to run a business start-up soon after graduation, if he doesn’t pursue a professional hockey career. “I’m going to take everything one day at a time, and not live in the future, but the moment.”
This summer, he has a construction job lined up back home in British Columbia, which — on top of following the workout regimen set up by Director of Strength & Conditioning Chris Kerr — he hopes will help build up his frame.
“I talked to (Kerr) for half an hour, asking questions on his philosophy of training,” said Kovich, who had a chance to train with him and a few of the current Flames players. “He is very knowledgeable, and I love how passionate he is.”
He also met Dr. Dave Brat, Dean of the School of Business, who sold him on the entrepreneurship specialization.
“He was fun to talk to and ask questions about all that the school has to offer,” Kovich said. “He told me about the student clubs and the networking I’ll be able to do and all the resources, which are setting you up for success.”
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media