Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Brandon Montour officially signs three-year entry deal with Anaheim Ducks

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian


The Massachusetts hockey team lost its second player to an NHL contract in five days Monday after Brandon Montour signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Anaheim Ducks.

First reported Saturday night, the deal was officially signed Monday and was announced by the Ducks via Twitter.

“The nerves are kicking in right now but this is a dream come true,” Montour said. “After the season (the Ducks) came to me and I can’t wait to get on the ice with these guys.”

Montour was selected by Anaheim with the 55th pick in the second round of the 2014 NHL draft in June. The selection marked the highest draft pick in UMass history.

After being deemed ineligible for the first half of the Minutemen’s 2014-15 season, Montour first arrived in Amherst on Dec. 16 against Northeastern and finished with three goals and 17 assists in 21 games.

“I’m thrilled for Brandon and his family and obviously am excited for him to have the opportunity to continue to pursue hockey,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “The most important thing with Brandon is how much he improved in a very short time here at UMass. He took every advantage of watching video and extra work in trying to continue to push his game and I think that was a big factor in why he was ready to make the next step.”

After joining the Minutemen in December, Montour immediately accepted a role on the top defensive line. Paired with either Marc Hetnik or Oleg Yevenko, the Ontario native helped bring increased stability to a UMass defense that struggled to find consistency.

“He filled a hole,” Micheletto said. “We came into the season obviously one (player) short so he rounded out our (defensive) corps the way that we expected it to be at the beginning of the season.

“He was welcomed in a difficult situation at the midway point and brought some new energy with his personality, which is very easy-going. Then on the ice he helped us improve our puck movement in getting out of our own end and getting into their end.”

Montour said that while the decision to forego his final three seasons with the Minutemen was difficult, he said that the opportunity to turn professional ultimately proved most beneficial.

“I just wanted to go back home and take a couple of days to relax and think about the options that I had,” Montour said. “Moving forward, I thought this was the best decision I wanted to make. It’s tough leaving UMass after being there for such a short period of time but I think I did what’s best for me.”

In addition to confiding with the Minutemen coaching staff and his family prior to his decision, Montour said he discussed his options with Frank Vatrano, who signed a contract with the Boston Bruins last Thursday after his breakout redshirt sophomore campaign.

“We’ve actually been talking quite a bit the last couple of days and we’re both going through this path together at the same time,” Montour said. “I wish him nothing but the best and we’ll definitely keep in touch.”

Montour said that despite his shortened stay at UMass, this past season’s exposure to collegiate competition helped further develop his skills.

“I didn’t play too many games but the experience that I had with my teammates, my coaches and playing against older guys and more physical and mature guys, that definitely improved my game,” said Montour who turns 21 next month. “This is just going to be another step above that.”

Montour added however that adjusting to the professional level will provide a new challenge in speed and style of play. But the defenseman said that he embraces this next test.

“There’s obviously a lot of holes that can be fixed but I’m just going to go in there and be pretty much a sponge and take everything in from players and coaches,” Montour said.

Montour will begin his career with the Norfolk Admirals, the Ducks’ AHL affiliate based in Norfolk, Virginia. The Admirals’ next game is Wednesday on the road against the Albany Devils.

While Montour said his status for Wednesday’s game is uncertain, he will begin practice with Norfolk on Tuesday.

Anthony Chiusano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.

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