Despite today’s bad news, Jackson Leef is building pro career

Fort Wayne's Jackson Leef playing with the Brampton Beast. (Photo courtesy of Robin Iwaskiw/Brampton Beast)

Though he was greatly looking forward to playing his hometown Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday, the Brampton Beast released forward Jackson Leef on Thursday. It was an extreme disappointment, but the former Northrop player will be back in the ECHL someday, likely even with Brampton.

After all, it’s his attitude and willingness to listen that has given him a pro career in the first place.

Leef, 25, scored one goal and three points in 20 games with the Beast, but his primary role was stopping the opposing team from scoring. He’s the son of Komets great Ron Leef and his wife Nancy.

“When he came to training camp, my main message to him was it’s going to be difficult for him to play an offensive role,” Brampton coach and former Komets great Colin Chaulk said. “I told him to be the guy that can kill penalties and be a role guy. When he got sent down to the SPHL, I told him it was important that he continue to do that. Make sure you do those things in the SPHL so that you are ready.”

After six games with Evansville in the SPHL, Leef had three goals and four points and was plus-3, which earned him the chance to go back to Brampton. Every team in a higher league needing help is looking for someone who can come in and play the third line effectively. They already have players to step up and play among the first six forwards.

“It wasn’t that difficult because I had so much respect for Chaulker,” Leef said. “It was really easy to go to bat for that guy and work hard. I think I would have played any role for him.”

The Beast ran into a numbers problem heading into the weekend which meant they needed Leef’s roster spot. Despite releasing him, Chaulk agreed that Leef has done a good job of establishing himself and his pro career this season. He was playing about 10 minutes a game as the team’s 10th forward.

“He’s been doing everything I’ve asked of him,” Chaulk said. “He’s one of those guys you cheer for and you believe they are going to do well. It’s a long line. Sometimes you have to get in line and sometimes you have to butt in.”

After playing only 11 SPHL games last year following the end of his eligibility at Westfield State University, Leef is still a rookie.

“I think the role that I have is to play a high-intensity, high-energy game, and that’s what I’ve done,” Leef said. “I feel like being a pro guy, more is asked of you, and I’ve tried to bring that every day.”

Blake Siebenaler

After a solid rookie season last year, the 2014 third-round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets has shown steady improvement during his second year. After scoring three goals and six points in 43 games last year with Cleveland of the AHL, Siebenaler has already almost matched his numbers with two goals and five points in 18 games this season. He’s also improved his plus-minus from minus-14 last season to plus-4 so far this season.

Siebenaler, still only 21, scored the Monster’s only goal on Sunday in a loss to Iowa.

Karch Bachman

Wolcottville’s Karch Bachman is getting more ice time with the University of Miami (Ohio) men’s hockey team. The sophomore left wing and center has three goals and nine points in 20 games this season with the RedHawks. Bachman, 20, was a fifth-round pick by the Florida Panthers in the 2015 draft.

Ian Harris

After being released by Brampton earlier this season, Fort Wayne’s Ian Harris signed last week with the Cornwall Nationals, an expansion team in the Federal Hockey League. The left wing, 22, has played in one team so far with five shots on goal.

Matt Miller

A Leo product, the 18-year-old left wing has three goals and seven points in 26 games this season with the United States Hockey League’s Sioux City Musketeers. He’s already committed to play at Michigan State.