When the University of Saskatchewan Huskies lost the 2014 University Cup in Saskatoon, it could have meant the end of Derek Hulak's season.
But Hulak, who was named MVP of the tournament, performed so well that he was given a rare opportunity to move straight into the American Hockey League.
"Obviously it was pretty exciting," Hulak said. "When you come to university, a lot of people have the mentality that you get your degree and your career is done."
Hulak's career was far from done, as only a few weeks later he was hoisting the Calder Cup as a member of the Texas Stars. Now, Hulak has brought the Calder Cup to Saskatoon.
"It's been an unbelievable journey," he said. "Now to be able to move on to the American Hockey League and be able to bring a trophy like this home it's an unbelievable experience and it's been a great day."
While the AHL's top prize is not as well known as the Stanley Cup, Hulak is already getting noticed.
"Just getting stopped in the street and people not only recognizing the trophy, but congratulating me on the year and the success," Hulak said. "That's just Saskatoon for you — small town mentality and friendly people."
Before moving to the Texas Stars, Hulak played for the Saskatoon Contacts, Saskatoon Blades, and the U of S Huskies.
Hulak credits the U of S hockey program and all of his teammates for helping him make the jump to the AHL. Now, he's hoping more Canadian university players will get a chance to do the same.
"A lot of the different teams were asking for my opinion on different players in the league, different players on my own team as well," he said. "It's good to see that the word is starting to get out just how good the hockey is and I really hope it's a league that starts to get scouted further."