NCAA DIII transfer Ottenbreit brings versatile game to Flames
Kam Ottenbreit didn't let a second opportunity to play for Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team pass him by, opting on Tuesday to transfer from NCAA Division III Aurora (Ill.) University to join the Flames this fall as the sixth incoming forward and eighth overall recruit.
Ottenbreit first heard about Liberty from Aaron Randazzo, son of FCA Hockey Director Rick Randazzo, when they were teammates on the Odessa (Texas) Jackalopes in 2019-20. That is the same North American Hockey League (NAHL) team that Flames rising senior forward Josh Fricks played for the season before.
"I made a visit and decided to go elsewhere and shortly after regretted the decision and reached back out to (Liberty Head Coach) Kirk Handy," he said. "I knew that I had messed up the first time and that God was calling me to go to Liberty. I think He allowed me to (start at Aurora) so that I would appreciate Liberty more for what it is this time around."
|Ottenbreit played for the Belle Tire (Mich.) 18U AAA team in 2017-18 before launching his Juniors career.|
The 6-foot, 1-inch tall, 185-pound power forward and offensive playmaker started playing hockey when he was 3 years old growing up in Michigan, and has trained under his dad, Mark, who played forward for the NCAA DI University of Illinois-Chicago in the early 1990s, for much of his career.
"Ninety percent of everything in my game stemmed from my dad teaching it to me growing up," he said.
He was impressed by everything the university has to offer, and the hockey program in particular.
"All of the facilities and amenities they use for their players are unlike anything I've ever experienced," Ottenbreit said. "I met with (Club Sports Director of Strength & Conditioning) Chris (Kerr), and his serious dedication to the team kind of blew me away. That was another reason I was excited to choose Liberty. The technologies they use for their players are incredible. I am just excited to get to play hockey for Liberty and hope to be the best teammate I can (be). Any position (Handy) needs me I am willing to play."
Handy said Ottenbreit is a solid two-way hockey player and he likes his versatility.
"We are super excited to have Kam be a part of our team," he said. "He's someone who has a year of college hockey experience under his belt after he played in the NAHL so he's an older guy who can add (depth) from a leadership standpoint."
The faith element of playing at Liberty was the strongest selling point.
"I have always been surrounded by God-following people, but it will definitely be a new experience (playing on a Christian team) and one that I'm really looking forward to," Ottenbreit said. "Just the team's brotherhood and bonding, how everyone's on different faith tracks, I'll have a really good support system in developing my faith."
"We know he's coming to Liberty for all of the right reasons," Handy added. "It's fantastic having a guy come in who understands the mission of Liberty and what we are doing. He's passionate about his faith and he wants to bring that here. He's an excellent student and a great guy for other guys in the locker room to listen to."
At Liberty, he plans to study biology and follow a similar career path as his father.
"I want to get into the pharmaceutical world," Ottenbreit said. "My dad's in it on the business side. I want to get more into it on the science/medical side."
After playing at the NCAA Division III leveI, Ottenbreit is confident that he can adjust quickly to the ACHA DI game and eventually play a major role on the team.
"I would say that leadership is one of my strengths," he said. "On game day, I'm a pretty serious guy and tend to keep to myself. Aside from that, I am a very talkative person and enjoy communicating with others."
On top of training through the summer, which includes lifting weights and shooting pucks every day as well as running on the track, Ottenbreit started a landscaping company.
|Ottenbreit's family is raising three adopted children from China.|
He is one of two biological children in a family that has adopted three children from China.
"Kam has obviously grown up in a family that values making a difference in this world," Handy said. "His mom and dad are great people and he got to see them go through the adoption process."
While raising his younger sister Janie, 18, as well as adopted siblings Thea (21), Eva, and Ben (both 17), his parents hope to follow Kam's collegiate hockey career as closely as possible.
"They're pretty determined to make it to as many games as they can and they're excited that the (LFSN) video quality is top-notch, so that whatever they miss they can watch online back home," Ottenbreit said.