(Courtesy of James Shewaga, The Brandon Sun) -- Brandon’s Kurt Jory is swapping his Badger jersey for Mallard colours.
After graduating with a degree in international business from Brock University this spring, the 25-year-old former Brandon Wheat Kings goaltender is moving on to the professional ranks after signing his first contract with the Quad City Mallards of the Central Hockey League.
"Hockey is obviously something I have wanted to pursue at a higher level and now that school is done I get the chance to try to pursue it and I guess just take it a year at a time," Jory said via telephone yesterday from Kelowna, B.C., where he is spending the summer with his girlfriend.
Jory agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Mallards, who also signed Brandonite Mike Hellyer this month after the 26-year-old forward finished his five-year CIS career with the Manitoba Bisons.
For Jory, the signing shows just how far he has come battling back from a serious neck injury he suffered in 2008. Jory, who posted a 3.28 goals-against average with one shutout in 25 games for the Brock Badgers last season, had a major vein in his neck slashed by an errant skate during a game in his rookie season of university hockey.
After a lengthy rehabilitation process, Jory returned to the club and completed his four-year career, although he is still working his way back to 100 per cent health. The neck injury resulted in nerve damage that affected his right arm and blocker hand, which is a little easier to deal with than had it been his glove hand.
"I feel pretty good," Jory said. "My arm is probably at about 80 or 85 per cent back now. I have been in the gym and doing physio at home quite frequently, so I wouldn’t say I am 100 per cent fully back, but I have learned to adapt to it on the ice."
Jory, who played with both Brandon and Moose Jaw in the WHL, Neepawa in the MJHL and Langley in the BCHL, has spent the summer working and skating two or three times a week with pro players in Kelowna.
"I have been lucky to meet a couple of hockey guys out here, and hockey guys are all the same no matter where they come in, so I have probably been out two or three times a week," Jory said. "Goalies are always in high demand."
A graduate of Brandon’s 2004 national midget hockey championship team, Jory is the second netminder signed by Quad City, joining John Murray, a 25-year-old four-year pro who played for new Mallards coach/GM Terry Ruskowski last season with the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in the CHL.
Jory plans to make the trip to Moline, Ill., where the Mallards are based, in late September, with Quad City slated to open the CHL regular season on Oct. 22 against the Rapid City Rush. While that is still two months away, Jory can’t wait to make his pro debut.
"I’m excited about it," Jory said. "After junior, you kind of have to make a choice between taking a stab at pro or school and then you do your four years and a lot of people either don’t pursue their pro options or don’t get the opportunity. Especially for myself after my injury, it’s a great opportunity and I am going to take it and run with it."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 22, 2012