Jun 30, 2016

By Kevin Gier, St Louis Jr. Blues


            One could easily argue that, since joining the club in 2012 at the age of 16, Chris Brown was the St Louis Jr. Blues. He was one of the leaders both on-ice—wearing first the A and then the C in 2014-15—and off it, a popular figure amongst the staff and his teammates.

            “As a young kid, we always used to go to their games,” said the 6’, 180lb 20-year-old from Oakville, MO. “Being able to play for [the Jr. Blues] meant the world. It made juniors fun and it made hockey fun.”

            And now, Brown is taking the next step in his hockey career: he has committed to play college hockey at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. The Ice Bears recently moved up to Division I of the ACHA, and boast a history and level of support that are amongst the best in the nation for club hockey.

            Brown said of his decision, “I had a couple NCAA Division III offers and a few other ACHA Division I offers, but they just weren’t the right fit for me. Missouri State just felt like home, especially with some of the guys they have there and some of the other guys they have coming in.”

            In 122 total games during his tenure in St Louis, Brown scored seven goals and added 37 assists, with a lifetime plus-minus rating of +2. He was a defenseman’s defenseman: accountable in his own zone, able to move the puck when needed, and a fixture on special teams. During his three trips to the playoffs, Brown scored one goal and notched six assists—four of which came during the 2016 Silver Cup Finals.

            Head coach Chris Flaugher said of Brown’s play, “Chris was the kind of player we could rely on to do anything we asked of him. His play speaks for itself, and we were incredibly proud to see him move on. Missouri State can be proud that they’re getting a great player and a great person.”

            All that talent and leadership could not be hidden for long, and it was in the middle of the 2014-15 season that the Jr. Blues got a call from another set of Jr. Blues, this time located up Interstate 55. The Springfield Jr. Blues of the NAHL were in need of a defenseman, and in keeping with St Louis’ organizational philosophy, they were only too happy to move Brown up, even though it meant parting with their captain. In two seasons with Springfield, Brown played 42 games and recorded two assists, before returning to Missouri to finish out his junior career.

            “It’s a quicker game: you have to think quick, you have to play with speed,” remarked Brown on his time in Tier II junior hockey. “It helped me to hone my skills and develop myself more as a player.”

            While at MSU, Brown plans to major in pre-law. In addition, he won’t be the only athlete named Brown matriculating to Springfield this fall: his older brother Matt recently signed a letter of intent to play baseball for the Bears.

            Chris, who also played baseball at St John Vianney High School outside St Louis (where his father is head coach), said that the chance to be in school with his brother again is what he’s most looking forward to at college.


Photo credit: Gina Hamlin