Nick Doyle has options. Three or four, in fact.
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Second Team All-Star defenseman, who was also the captain of the much-improved Waywayseecappo Wolverines, just finished his fourth and final season in the MJ and he has no desire to give up the game. The 20-year-old from Winnipeg is still in conversation with “three or four Canadian and American universities,” and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to make up his mind.
“I’ve narrowed it down to three or four schools in the U.S. and Canada — Div. 3 and USPORT,” Doyle said on Saturday. “I’ve talked to quite a few but I’m getting close to making a decision. I’d love to tell you which ones but my advisor told me to keep it all on the down-low.
“Still, this is a good time to have to make my decision. I really don’t have anything else to think about now that we’re all locked down due to the pandemic.”
In fairness, Doyle has been driving between Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie on a pretty regular basis. The family of his girlfriend, Morgan Miller, operates the Portage Supermarket (Family Foods) and he’s been helping out. “It’s been hectic with the number of people who have been in the store,” he said.
It’s not surprising that Doyle has an opportunity to pick and chose where he’ll play next season. After four strong years in the MJHL, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound all-star D-man, who grew up in Winnipeg with the Sharks Bantams and Warriors Midgets, has quite a resume. He won an NAPHL U16 championship with the Omaha Lancers in 2016, an MJHL championship with the Portage Terriers in 2017 and then played a major role in the rebuilding of the Waywayseecappo franchise from a laughing stock in 2018 (8-48-3-1) to a league powerhouse in 2020 (32-21-5-2).
“It’s too bad the season ended the way it did this year because I thought we had a strong group,” said Doyle, whose Wolverines were down 2-1 to the Swan Valley Stampeders in the first round of this year’s MJHL playoffs. “Still, being part of the rebuilding of the team in Wayway is something I’ll always be proud of. When I got traded there by Portage, we had six wins and now, we’re a fifth place team with two straight years in the playoffs.
“And playing for (head coach) Taylor Harnett was one of the best experiences, I’ve had. He’s probably my favourite coach of all the coaches I’ve had. He’s passionate about the team and the community and he really wants every player to do well. At first, playing in Wayway, I thought it would be a challenge. But when I first talked to Taylor, I really felt things were going to turn around. He was coming in and changing everything, right down to the team’s colours. When I got there, I fell in love with the place. The billet families were amazing and now that I’m done, I know I wouldn’t have wanted to play anywhere else.”
Next year, however, he will. But he will take with him an outstanding four-year MJHL career that included 198 regular season and 28 playoff games. This past season, he had 12 goals and 46 points in 59 games and finished with 22 goals and 106 points in 198 games on defence.
“I really would have liked to have had a chance to play NCAA Division 1, but I signed a contract with Medicine Hat when I was 17,” he said. “That was a crazy year for me. I went to Medicine Hat, didn’t make the team, got sent to OCN and was traded to Portage before I even arrived in OCN. But in the end, it was fun to win a championship in Portage and it was fun to be part of the whole experience in Wayway. Now, I’m excited about what happens next.”