Milson’s next great adventure
Canadian native to bike across homeland after hockey ends
Daman Milsom's college hockey journey is nearing its end.
The senior defenseman from Kelowna, British Columbia may play his last game for St. Scholastica this Saturday night, when the Saints host Wisconsin-Stevens Point in an NCHA semifinal game. The end might also come next weekend in a championship game against Wisconsin-Eau Claire or defending NCAA Division III Champion St. Norbert, or even in this year's NCAA tournament. One way or another, after four years and more than 100 games, Milsom will leave St. Scholastica's campus in Duluth, Minn., with a degree in biology.
"We've got five seniors," said Saints coach Mark Wick, "and they've meant a lot to this program as athletes, and they've put this program kind of where we want it to be, but I also think that they're great individuals and great people, and Daman is the epitome of what we want here as student-athletes."
However, just as surely as Milsom's college hockey journey is nearing an end, another journey is about to begin. Following his senior season, Milsom will join high school friend Kibby Evans for a bike trip across Canada to raise awareness and funds for organ transplants.
"Last summer," Milsom said, "I went out to B.C. to go to a friend's wedding, and I bumped into Kibby, and we just started talking about how cool it would be to bike across Canada. We both agreed that we'd have to do it for a cause, and we went back and forth with causes that we'd like to support, and we finally decided on organ transplants.
"Kibby's father needed a transplant for the last few years, so he was on the waiting list, and we decided to bike across Canada for organ transplants."
The "Trekking for Transplants" journey will start at Cape Spear, Newfoundland (Canada's most easterly point), and finish in Victoria, British Columbia. Milsom and Evans will attempt to raise $50,000 for organ transplants through their 9,000-kilometer journey (nearly 5600 miles).
"We've been getting a little bit here and there," Milsom said, "and we had a big New Year's fundraiser back in British Columbia that got us quite a few donations, so I believe we're around the $12,000-$13,000 mark right now, so it's a great start. We're just starting to approach potential sponsors and get donations from people in the community. We're just getting the ball rolling here."
Biking more than 5,000 miles is certainly a long grind, but for a guy who's played 106 games as a stalwart defenseman in the last four years -- amassing totals of two goals, 12 assists and 129 penalty minutes in that span -- Milsom definitely knows a thing or two about maintaining a workmanlike attitude.
"There's no surprise that he is behind this," said Saints coach Mark Wick. "We've got some fantastic guys on our team, but if you asked me who's going to do something like this, I certainly would have picked out Daman.
"He is Mr. Steady Eddie back there. He's a great calming influence, the way he plays. He's won a letter for us the last three years, captain the last two, so I think that speaks a lot of him. He's not the flashiest guy - I think he did score a goal in 2009 - but in the toughest situations, in the big times in the game, he's definitely going to be on the ice. He's been a great leader and a great player for us."
|TREKKING FOR TRANSPLANTS|
|• Help them reach $50,0000 goal|
|• Registered as an organ donor|
|• Learn about Trekking for Transplants|
When the season is over, though, Milsom will look to be a leader on another front, and it's going to take some training to get ready for the trip.
"To be honest," Milsom said, "I haven't done much long-distance biking, so it's going to be a new chapter in my life, and a new experience. I'm really looking forward to the challenge."
That has had to wait, though, while the Saints pursue their second NCAA tournament berth. Milsom was a freshman when St. Scholastica played their first NCAA game in 2009, and he's determined to see the Saints get another shot. They're in the mix after going 6-2-2 in their last 10 NCHA regular season games - and ranked No. 11 in this week's USCHO.com Division III Men's Poll - but Milsom knows that he and his teammates have work to do to finish the job.
"We do have this long season that I'm trying to focus on right now," Milsom said, "so I've got to put all my effort into that first before I can start training for this long bike ride."
And when Milsom does make that move forward, off the ice and onto the trail, his coach and teammates from St. Scholastica will be looking on proudly.
"It's been an honor to have him here," Wick said, "and to watch him move forward and attack a challenge like this, it's going to be fun to watch him."