Bethel’s star forward will continue his career in Germany
Sports | Mary Polding for The Clarion
Forward Jack Paul notched 26 points in 24 games this season, tied for the team lead. Paul also recorded a -6 rating on a 7-18 Royals team that was outscored by 39 goals on the year. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Bethel Sports Information
Although the men’s hockey season is over, another journey has just begun for senior hockey captain Jack Paul. The forward recently signed with the Füchse Duisburg, a professional hockey team in Germany, and he will join them for the 2013-2014 season beginning this September.
The Füchse are part of the Oberliga West, which includes about 39 teams in four divisions each season. The team previously competed in Germany’s top professional league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, but joined the Oberliga West after being bought by the Cologne Sharks, one of the league’s oldest teams.
He will be leaving his home in Minnesota, but Paul couldn’t be more excited to stay on the ice. He ended his college career as a four-time all-conference selection and finished second in the MIAC this year in both points and assists. His time at Bethel ultimately provided him with the opportunity to play professionally, as head hockey coach Charlie Burggraf also played in Germany during his hockey career.
“This will be a great experience for Jack to play in a foreign country,” Burggraf said. “They are looking for Jack to bring scoring and to mentor the younger guys on and off the ice.”
Because many teams within the league employ Americans, Paul will have plenty of opportunities to continue his career in Germany if he performs well. With aspirations to earn a multi-season stint or move to a higher league, Paul already has the attitude necessary for success.
Despite the challenges of playing in a different cultural setting, Paul said he feels prepared and excited for the new adventure. Many hockey players compete with foreign teammates during their time in the juniors, and it is not uncommon for players to speak English in Germany.
He will also have the advantage of training with the Füchse in August before the season starts in September. His contract includes the season 45-game regular, plus playoffs, housing and transportation.
Although Paul knows a few jitters will set in as the season gets closer, he draws comfort from the support of his family and friends. Paul said his family is grateful for this incredible opportunity and is equally excited to visit him overseas. Until then, he will continue to train with the Royals’ assistant coach Chris Carroll during the offseason, along with other Twin Cities players preparing for postgraduate careers.
Paul relied heavily on thought, prayer and consultation with family and coaches to make the decision to play professionally, but he said the choice was ultimately pretty simple.
“When it came down to it, my dream was right in front of me,” he said. “I wasn’t about to turn it down.”