Brown Bears update: Davidson commits to Eau Claire, Wild shift from Midwest to South

The Kenai River Brown Bears have announced that Jake Davidson will be playing for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire next season.

Davidson, who played defense for the Bears for three years, will be joining former Brown Bears teammate Chris Nuth at the Division III school.

The Blugolds won the NCAA Division III championship in 2013 and this past season won the inaugural Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title.

“I think something that really attracted me is they are competitive every year,” said Davidson, son of Peggy and Terry Olivas. “We did have a guy go to Eau Claire in Chris Nuth, and I liked what I’d heard.

“I’m looking forward to the next four years.”

Davidson said another plus is the school is within easy driving distance of his family in Duluth, Minnesota. UW-Superior, which is in the WIAC, is right across the border from Duluth.

Davidson was a steady defenseman for the Bears, serving as assistant captain with Nuth in 2012-13 before working his way into the captain’s spot this past year.

His stats were eight points and minus-10 in 2011-12, 27 points and minus-1 in 2012-13 and 17 points and minus-6 in 2013-14.

“We wish Jake the best,” Brown Bears coach Geoff Beauparlant said. “He’s a guy that competes hard and has been a leader with our program. He’s someone that’s well-respected in the community.”

Davidson spent all three years living with Sam and Joe Halstead of Kenai, plus children Zach and Emily.

“I had a great time in Kenai,” Davidson said. “It’s something I’ll remember my whole life. It’s a great team and a great town. It was great living with the same billet family for all three years.”

Davidson, who will study something in the business field at Eau Claire, thanked all in the Brown Bears organization that made the commitment happen, especially Beauparlant and former coach Oliver David.

Division realignment: The North American Hockey League announced divisional realignment Wednesday.

The Wenatchee (Washington) Wild are moving from the Midwest to the South, leaving the Bears, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Minnesota Wilderness, Minnesota Wild and Coulee Region (Wisconsin) Chill in the Midwest.

Beauparlant said he doesn’t know why the Wild were moved from the Midwest, which now has just five teams, to the South, which now has eight teams.

“All I know is we will continue to play them,” Beauparlant said.

He said he is not sure how many times the Bears will play the Wild.

“The Wild is definitely a team we’ve built a good rivalry with,” Beauparlant said. “It’s going to be different with them not in the division.

“At the same time, we’re competing in a good Midwest Division and still have to be in the top four to make the playoffs.”

Assistant coach leaves: Assistant coach Steve Murphy has left the team to pursue other options, Beauparlant said.

Beauparlant said those interested in the assistant’s position can contact him at coachbeau@krbbears.com.

Camp time: The Bears have two camps running from Friday through Sunday, one in Littleton, Colorado, and the other in Columbus, Ohio.

There also will be a camp May 30 to June 1 in Anchorage.

Beauparlant said the number of players signing up for the camps has been better than expected.

“We always want to have a chance to evaluate as many of the players we haven’t seen as we can,” Beauparlant said.

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