By: Ty Dilello – The Niverville Citizen
The final roster of the first edition of the Niverville Nighthawks has been unveiled. Over the next few days, we will be releasing detailed profiles on each of the players who will take to the ice when the season starts up on Friday, September 16.
In today’s article, we will focus on the defencemen.
Devin Benson (77)
Devin Benson was born in North Vancouver. He was raised in nearby Squamish for two years before the family moved to Lac Le Jeune, a small lakeside community 20 minutes south of Kamloops.
Benson has been playing hockey since he was six years old. When he was 14, he was billeted and played for the Bantam prep team with Yale Hockey Academy in the CSSHL.
He was drafted to the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. But instead of going the WHL route, he stayed at Yale for two years and then returned to Kamloops to play Major Midget the following year. The last two years he has played Junior in the BCHL and the KIJHL.
“I’ve learned with all the ups and downs of hockey that you have to do what feels right for you, as everybody’s path is different, and not to get caught up or worrying about what others are doing or what they think you should do. When I was approached by Mike and Kelvin, I was blown away at how much they had researched the type of player I was. And after our meeting, I just knew it was the right fit for me and to be a part of a new team made it even better.”
One of Benson’s favourite things is playing hockey on the outdoor rinks—and he says he lucked out in Niverville, as his amazing billets just so happen to have one in their backyard.
Eric Martin (12)
Eric Martin was born in Edmonton in 2004. He started playing hockey at the age of four for a local community team in Edmonton and played on the same team until he was 14.
At that time, Martin left to play in the CSSHL. He played two years in Edmonton, and then moved on to Victoria, British Columbia, where he spent the last two seasons.
Martin’s favourite memories in hockey are being able to skate every winter on the outdoor rink in the backyard his dad built for the family every winter.
In his spare time, Martin likes to spend weekends at the lake, and get a few rounds of golf in. He is also a diehard fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Martin can’t wait to suit up for the Nighthawks this season.
“It is an unbelievable opportunity to join the Nighthawks, and the coaches and management made it an easy decision. Being a new team makes it a unique experience as well, and honestly an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Making my way to Niverville for spring camp and seeing the town and meeting the support staff and citizens only added to my excitement for playing for the Nighthawks. I really can’t wait to start the season and wear a Nighthawks jersey and represent our town.”
Luke Schaeffer (44)
Luke Schaeffer was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and raised on a farm in nearby Odessa. He then went on to play minor hockey in the communities of Odessa, Weyburn, and White City.
Schaeffer split the previous 2021–22 campaign with the PJHL’s Pilot Butte Storm and SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. He scored 12 points in 18 games with Pilot Butte and one point in 15 games with Weyburn.
Schaeffer’s favourite hockey memory so far was winning the Brandon Tournament of Champions with Weyburn.
“Joining the Nighthawks is important to me because they are a new team with a good community. I really want to help them have a great first year. I am very excited to get the season started.”
Ethan Kelly (9)
Ethan Kelly was born in Rosetown, Saskatchewan and raised on a farm just outside a nearby small town called Dodsland.
Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, hockey was the main sport everyone played and Kelly was no different, as he started playing at a very young age.
“My favourite moment in hockey was when I was young. We were in a very competitive tournament in hockey and we won the gold medal game in overtime.”
Kelly has spent the past three seasons with Prairie Hockey Academy in their U17 and U18 programs before signing with the Nighthawks.
“Joining the Nighthawks was important to me because they were the first Junior A team that showed interest in me and decided to take a chance on me. I am very excited to get the season going and hopefully we have fun winning some games.”
Carson Reed (37)
Carson Reed was born in Roseau, Minnesota in 2004. He was raised in nearby Warroad, which is known to many people as Hockeytown, USA.
The 6’2” defenceman notes the storied rivalry between Warroad and Roseau, two towns located across the U.S. border from each other.
“The rivalry is huge. It’s the pair of games each team marks on the calendar, especially since we are only 20 miles away from each other. Both Warroad and Roseau are extremely small towns, yet we can still fill up the arena for every matchup.”
Reed has played for Warroad his entire life, starting at the age of seven. His favourite moment in hockey to date is when his team won the state championship in his Bantam year.
“I wanted to play for the Nighthawks because they are a new team, and I am excited to show the league what we’ve got. It’s definitely a positive that my family is only an hour and a half away, and hopefully they have enough time to come watch as much as possible.”
Evan Bortis (25)
Evan Bortis was born in Saskatoon and raised in Regina. He lived in Regina until he was 15 before the family moved back to Saskatoon. Coming from a hockey background, Bortis’s dad played in the WHL for the Calgary Hitmen.
Bortis’s favourite moment in hockey to date was just recently getting the opportunity to play Junior hockey and even score his very first Junior A goal.
He looks forward to helping to create a winning culture in Niverville and bond with this group of guys.
“For me, joining the Niverville Nighthawks was a huge honour and was the best opportunity for me as it’s a new organization with a solid group of coaches, players, board members, and of course the fans. It really makes this first year in the league a huge honour and an opportunity to do something special. I hope to make some brothers for life and further my hockey career. I’m beyond excited to get things going this year with the Nighthawks and do something special!”
Owen Hendrikson (49)
Owen Hendrikson was born and raised in Rosemount, Minnesota. He started playing hockey as soon as he could walk and played with his hometown Rosemount teams, all the way to his senior year of high school.
Hendrikson’s favourite moment in hockey was playing in his first high school hockey game in Minnetonka, where he notes it was quite the crazy atmosphere.
Last season, Hendrikson scored 21 points in 27 games in his senior year at Rosemount High School.
“Joining the Nighthawks was so important to me because it gave me a great opportunity to keep playing the game that I love. I am so excited to finally experience Junior hockey with such a great community surrounding it.”