Alumni Update: Keegan Iverson

March 5, 2020 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Portland Winterhawks News Release

Keegan Iverson is one of 20 former Winterhawks taking advantage of his Western Hockey League Scholarship this semester. As a student athlete attending Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Iverson is studying sociology while helping to lead the Cougars to the Canada West Quarterfinals in his first year with the program.

Upon graduating from the WHL, Iverson played one season in the Los Angeles Kings farm system before deciding to enroll at a university. "Once you get into juniors, you're totally focused on hockey," Iverson said. "I really realized how much of a benefit and how grateful I am to be able to play five years (in Portland) to get that schooling paid for each year."

Iverson was quick to thank the Hawks for their guidance, especially Education Advisor Sue Johnson. "You realize now being in school how much Sue Johnson is there for us and how helpful she is. At the time, you really don't realize how much of the undercover work she is really doing for us and I'm super grateful for that."

Coming into the Western Hockey League as a 16 year old, Iverson quickly adjusted to the Rose City and it became his home for the next five years.

"I haven't been able to get back there yet, but every summer I'm always itching and trying to get back there," Iverson said. "I thank everyone in that place for what they have done for me and all the opportunities and doors that playing in Portland has opened for me, friendships, and all that."

One year removed from Portland, Iverson played 49 professional games and found himself at a crossroads between continuing his professional career or putting it on pause to return to the classroom. In the end, he chose Mount Royal University because of one particular element - familiarity.

"I was kind of just looking for an opportunity with guys that I knew and played against, looking for more of a younger team so I could go in and build something around the players that I was with," Iverson said about his decision on Mount Royal, a team riddled with 17 former WHL players.

The Minnesota native was also able to relate with Mount Royal's coach. "I kind of found a connection with (Head Coach Bert Gilling) being that he was a coach in the NCAA at Bemidji State University near my hometown," Iverson said. "I had a buddy that I played pro with who went to Bemidji and he had nothing but good things to say about the coach so it was just kind of a no brainer once I got the acceptance letter."

In Calgary, Iverson was reintroduced to high-profile games and maybe none bigger than a Thursday afternoon game in late January. Playing in the Scotiabank Saddledome, the home of the NHL's Calgary Flames, Iverson set up a game-winning, double overtime goal against rival University of Calgary. "I mean that was a good game and the whole scenario was big for our school and our team," Iverson said about the game-ending marker. "Me and Ryley Lindgren (who is another WHL grad) have been playing super well together so we knew we wanted to get it and we were joking before and 'calling game' like the basketball players do."

Playing in the historic Saddledome, Iverson was able to walk in the footsteps of his idol Jarome Iginla, something that he notes was exciting. "I never really realized it until I got a little bit older, but whenever I had the opportunity to go to a Minnesota Wild game when I was growing up, it didn't matter what year it was, it was always against Calgary. I would always notice Iginla out there."

Iverson and Iginla share similarities on the ice. They are both heavy right handed forwards, standouts on their team in Calgary and both chose the WHL route with Iginla playing two seasons in Kamloops under Head Coach Don Hay.

Being a part of successful Hawks squads early in his WHL career, including winning a WHL Championship as a 17 year old, Iverson remembers being in awe of the overwhelming support from the Winterhawks fanbase. One particular series versus Kamloops during the Hawks championship run comes to mind for the old fan favorite.

"I've seen (the VMC) sold out, but the way that series went being so young, the Kamloops series really stuck out for me," Iverson said.

And Iverson always stuck out to the fans in Portland. He finished his illustrious WHL career in tenth place on the Hawks all-time leader board with 293 games played, totaling 190 points. He knew how to queue up TNT on a game day, but also how to keep things light away from the rink.

His personality off the ice is one of the many reasons Portland loves Keegan Iverson, and now, a little token from the former captain is still a part of the Winterhawks culture. "I would always do a dance battle (at the Neely Cup) and over the years, I think they started making the rookies do it. I miss all the fans and being a goofball for them. I do miss juniors a lot."

Article written by Logan Kesting

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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