A Kenora hockey product is taking his talents to the east coast, to further his education and his playing career.

Defenseman Kaden Ilott will be wearing the blue and yellow this fall, after committing to play for the Huskies of the University of Southern Maine, NCAA Division III men’s college hockey team.

“College hockey is something I’ve always wanted to work towards, and super exciting,” says Ilott. “After three years of junior, I’m finally going off to play college [hockey].”

Ilott has also received an academic scholarship to USM and says it’s the best of both worlds, playing hockey and getting an education.

“School will be first, but I think it’s awesome that I can still play hockey at a high level and go to school at the same time.”

Ilott is the product of the Kenora Thistles U18 AAA program, and in two seasons he logged 39 points in 92 career games.

For the past three years, Ilott has been playing at the Junior A level in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for the Dauphin Kings, and the Waywayseecappo Wolverines where he combined for 14 points through two seasons.

Before committing to USM, he played out his final year of junior for the Islanders Hockey Club of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) in THE National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC). He notched 14 points in 44 games in the NCDC.

He is excited about this opportunity to be able to play college hockey, but he says anticipates there will be an adjustment period.

“It’s going to be a step faster. This summer I want to put on some more muscle and get faster, and just be able to jump in right away and make a difference.”

Ilott will play under Huskies head coach, Ed Harding, who has been at the helm of the men’s program since 2014.

“I think he’s a first-class young man, he’s an excellent student, so that goes a long way at the Division III level,” says Harding in an interview with KenoraOnline. “He has really good hockey sense. I think the thing that really impressed number one, is his ability to protect the puck and be very conscientious with it.”

Ilott took tours at a few other universities before committing to USM and says Harding's track record and the hockey facilities sealed the deal for him.

“I’ve heard nothing but good things about the coach, and Southern Maine has a beautiful campus and has the rink right on campus.”

In terms of his education at USM, Ilott says he will be majoring in biology, as he has had a passion for the field.

The Huskies compete in the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) and play out of the USM Ice Arena.