Alec Baer sets sights on pro hockey

Brad McLeod

Cranbrook, B.C. – Alec Baer isn’t wasting any time preparing for the next phase of his hockey career.

With his eyes set firmly on the 2018-19 season, the former ICE forward and five-year Western Hockey League veteran is currently training alongside a number of professional hockey players in his home state of Minnesota. Players like Zach Parise (Minnesota Wild), Mathew Dumba (Minnesota Wild) and Derek Stepan (Arizona Coyotes) are among the NHL stars that Baer is brushing shoulders with in the weight room.

Baer explained when speaking about the presence of Parise, Dumba, Stepan and others at the gym that “(It) pushes me to try to keep up with them and shows me what it’s like to be a pro and how they work and how they carry themselves.”

“I think it’s good for me.”

Baer is hoping to join some of those he trains with and make the leap to the pro hockey level next season. The Iowa Wild (the American Hockey League affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) have invited the St. Louis Park, Minnesota native to its main camp. According to Baer, the Rapid City Rush (of the ECHL) have offered to have him back.

After Baer’s WHL career concluded on March 17, 2018, he joined the Rush for the final stretch of their regular season schedule. Baer made an immediate impact upon arrival, netting his first pro goal in his first pro game on March 21.

“It was late, like two, three minutes left in the game, we were down by one goal and it was a crash the net rebound goal,” described Baer.

Baer would be the only Rush player to find the back of the net that night in what turned out to be a 2-1 shootout loss to the Idaho Steelheads.

From March 21 to April 7, Baer would suit up in eight games for the Rush, potting three goals and tallying six points. Baer recorded points in five of the eight games and posted two points (1G, 1A) against Quad City on April 4.

“I was pretty happy with myself,” said Baer when describing his overall performance with the Rush. “There was a few points where we didn’t have many guys so it was good for me, you know, to get a lot of ice time as a young guy.”

Baer described the size, physical play and the speed of the pro game as being the biggest differences between the ECHL and the WHL, noting he was competing against players in their mid-twenties rather than teenagers.

Baer entered the off-season after a breakout 2017-18 campaign with the ICE. He registered 30 goals and 31 assists for 61 points in 72 games, all of which were WHL career highs. Baer led the team in goals (30), ranked fourth in assists (31), ranked first in shots on goal (223), ranked second in power play goals (8) and ranked second in power play assists (15). He was one of the top offensive threats on the ICE roster and was a go-to-guy for Head Coach James Patrick when the team needed a goal.

“I think I played a huge leadership role, clutch guy, if we needed a goal I was on the ice,” said Baer, explaining his role on the team during the 2017-18 season.

Baer also received the Player’s Award (voted on by the players), which goes to the individual that was deemed to be the best ICE player throughout the season.

Baer finished his WHL career with 86 goals and 101 assists for 187 points in 342 regular season games. He also added four goals and 13 points in 24 playoff games.

With a successful WHL career in the rearview mirror, Baer looks to earn his spot and make his mark as a professional hockey player.

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