Brandon Funk has been on fire since being traded from the Portage Terriers and is now reaping the rewards.
The 17-year-old forward has committed to Long Island University, an NCAA Division 1 program. He believes his dedication is what got him to this point.
"Sticking with it throughout the season. I know switching over to the (Winnipeg) Blues was a bit of a transition but it ended up working out pretty well," Funk continues. "I think both organizations, Portage and the Winnipeg Blues are both great organizations. Sticking with it through the trade and persevering ended up getting me a little reward here."
Funk says he's been in contact with a few schools this year but notes those conversations ramped up when he started to flourish with the Blues.
Funk was moved by the Terriers on December 1, along with defenceman Tyler Dodgson, in exchange for defenceman Matt McLeod and forward Jack Kaiser (no longer with the team). Since moving back to his hometown, Funk has put up 21 points in 19 games after scoring just 13 points in 20 games with Portage.
"I couldn't have done any of this without my teammates. They've helped me a lot," Funk explains. "It's a team game. I think our team is really gluing together now, hopefully, we'll keep that going and improve as a team, too, throughout the rest of the year."
While he remains humble, the 17-year-old has become one of the focal points of the Blues' offence and was awarded the MJHL's Player of the Month Award for January. Last month Funk put up six goals and dished out nine assists in eleven games.
"I plan to keep taking on even bigger roles as I keep progressing as a hockey player," says Funk. "I hope to keep improving. I have no thoughts about slowing down, that's for sure."
He played a total of 69 games over a season and a half with the Portage Terriers. Funk describes what he learned during his time in Portage.
"Well, (Terriers' head coach Blake Spiller) brought me in as a 16-year-old. He taught me how to grow up, that's for sure. Being stronger on the puck, eliminating that fancy stuff, and getting to the right paces. It's about making the plays that work without trying to be too fancy."
Funk has yet to play his 'revenge game' against the Terriers but notes he has it marked on his calendar.
"We play them in March. That'll be a pretty fun game. I'll, hopefully, have my billet family out there and a few of my friends from the school too. That'll be pretty fun."
The forward is very optimistic about his future in Long Island but says his main focus right now is helping the Blues reach the playoffs. Winnipeg is nine points back of the Niverville Nighthawks and has 13 games remaining.