After a successful junior hockey career, Elkhorn’s Layne Toder has his sights set on the next level – and the sky.
The former Manitoba Junior Hockey League champion, who also competed at the major junior level, has committed to play at Red Deer College. The son of Jolene and Curtis Toder plans to study aviation.
“From the first conversation that I had with Red Deer, it checked all my boxes in terms of academics, hockey, coaching, team culture, small town feel, and the ability to pursue a career in aviation,” said Toder, a 21-year-old defenceman.
Alberta’s Red Deer College competes in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. Head coach Trevor Keeper said his program has a solid mix of former Western Hockey League and Junior A players.
“We always take pride in the strength of our defencemen and I knew Layne would be a good fit,” he said. “You have to be smooth skating and mobile to be effective at the university level and Layne has that in his skill set.”
Keeper was impressed by not only Toder’s skills but also his character.
“Everyone I talked to spoke very highly of him and that is very important to our culture with the Red Deer College Kings,” the coach said. “He possesses leadership skills and we look for players that will stay here for three to five years. When you get someone with Layne’s attributes playing here until they are in their mid-20s, you end up developing really good hockey players and successful people away from the game.”
Toder is looking forward to not only playing hockey at the next level but also his chosen field of study. He said, “Aviation is an amazing career path that will provide me with many opportunities to see the world.”
Toder started his junior career with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers in 2016-2017. He was named to the league’s All-Rookie Team and helped the team win a MJHL championship. The next two and a half seasons, Toder played for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen before returning to the Terriers. This past winter he started the campaign with Portage before being swapped to the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings.
“Throughout my junior career I had many memorable moments from winning the Turnbull Cup with the Portage Terriers, playing with the Calgary Hitmen, and finishing off my career with the Dauphin Kings,” Toder said. “I’m thankful for my time in junior hockey and the friendships and connections I’ve made.”
Portage was to host the 2020 Centennial Cup national Junior A championship, but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020-2021, Toder played six games for Portage before the trade. He played one contest for the Kings before the pandemic halted the season. He had three assists combined in seven MJHL contests last season.
“My last year of junior did not play out as I had originally hoped and planned but I am grateful to the Portage Terriers and Dauphin Kings for making the best out of this season,” he said.
While he only played one game for Dauphin, his time there played a role in his future. Keeper usually identifies potential recruits in their 19-year-old season and then reaches out to them in their final junior campaign.
“With COVID interrupting various leagues this year, I lost track of Layne but (head coach) Doug Hedley with the Dauphin Kings sent me an email asking if I would be interested in him,” Keeper said. “So, I have to thank Doug for putting me in contact with Layne.”
No matter where he has played, Toder has appreciated the backing of his family.
“I wouldn’t have been able to reach my goals without the support system that I had, helping me along the way so that I was able to achieve my goals through my hockey career,” he said.