Amongst those student-athletes were four former Manitoba Junior Hockey League players: Dylan Thiessen, Stephen Kleysen, Brett Orr and Tanner Jago. Thiessen also owned a GPA of over 4.0, thus earning the prestigious Student Athlete of the Year distinction, amongst 11 others of the 219.
Thiessen, a 21-year-old Winnipeg product, played his first year of college hockey with Mercyhurst in 2018-19, after a long-lived four-year MJHL career with the Virden Oil Capitals from 2014-18. The former Winnipeg Monarchs’ bantam 50-goal scorer skated in 254 total MJHL games, racking up 69 goals and 172 points. The 6-foot, 185-pound forward mirrored his hockey abilities in the classroom with Mercyhurst, attaining Student Athlete of the Year status in the process of a long, gruelling season of Division I play.
Kleysen, 22, also skated in his first year of college hockey eligibility, suiting up for Niagara University in 2018-19. Prior to moving east, the puck-moving defenceman played 96 games in the MJHL for the Winnipeg Blues, collecting seven goals, 36 points and 112 penalty minutes over the course of two seasons. Kleysen also skated for the Madison Capitols of the USHL and the West Kelowna Warriors of the BCHL from 2016-18.
Fellow defenceman Orr, 23, took part in his third season of NCAA play in 2018-19, collecting eight assists on the back-end for Bentley University in 31 regular season games. In 104 Atlantic Hockey contests, the NCAA vet has four goals, 40 points, 30 penalty minutes and a +14 rating. Previously, the undersized blueliner dressed in 142 games for the Portage Terriers, serving in a leadership role, while amassing 25 goals and 83 points.
Jago, 25, completed his fourth season with Bentley in 2018-19, putting up nine goals and 28 points in 37 games on the blueline alongside Orr. The elder statesman capped off a successful college hockey career, finishing with 19 goals, 86 points and 119 penalty minutes in 151 regular season games with Bentley. The former AAA Brandon Wheat King spent three season in the MJHL, collected 43 goals and 139 points in 170 games between the Winkler Flyers and Portage Terriers.