Once Wings, Now Monarchs
By: Ward Hilger
For one young forward from the bright lights of Las Vegas, the beginning of a dream was starting to take shape. Forward Cory Ward would be selected by the brand new Aberdeen Wings in the NAHL Entry Draft from the Nevada Stars U16 team. Ward would go on to set the record books for the Wings in scoring putting together 32 goals and 25 assists in 58 games. An impressive start for any player in any league. But the 2010-2011 season would see the Wings reach out to Sin City once again, tendering forward Joe Sullivan to join Ward for the next season.
It was the second year of the franchise for the Aberdeen Wings, now lead by Cory Ward with a captain’s “C” on his jersey and fellow Vegas native Joe Sullivan. Together they would be a force on the ice. Ward would break his season from before with 35 goals and 28 assists. Sullivan would add 11 goals and 10 assists. The two Las Vegas boys fought hard for the Wings becoming fan favorites and common names around the community that has supported the team for many years now. You can still hear stories of Ward, Sullivan, and many other former Wings players in the stands as super fans relive good times. But following the 2011-2012 season, Ward would continue on to the next dream by committing to NCAA Division I Bemidji State University. He would go on to play 4 season for the BSU Beavers scoring 45 goals. Sullivan would play the next season between Aberdeen and Wenatchee in the NAHL. He would sign as a free agent with the Indiana Ice of the USHL for the 2013-2014 season. For 4 seasons, Sullivan would then join the NCAA Division I St. Lawrence University Saints, even donning the captain’s “C” for his senior year.
After a great career at Bemidji State University, Ward got the phone call every young hockey player wants. The chance to play professionally. He signed an entry-level contract with the St. John’s IceCaps, an affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, of the American Hockey League, which is the top tier minor league for the NHL. He would see 8 games on the ice garnering 3 assists. The off-season would see him sign a contract with the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL, the second tier of minor league hockey. The Monarchs are the ‘AA’ league affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL. Ward is now in his third season with the Monarchs having been called up to the AHL on three occasions and seeing ice-time with the Ontario Reign, Syracuse Crunch, and Springfield Thunderbirds.
During this current off-season, July of 2018, the Manchester Monarchs signed a new player to the roster to join forward Cory Ward. That player would be his old Wings teammate Joe Sullivan, fresh off his senior year at St. Lawrence University. The two former Wings have had a great 2018-2019 campaign. Forward Cory Ward has played in 27 games scoring 8 goals and 7 assists. Sullivan has dressed for 20 games scoring 4 goals and 5 assists.
The North American Hockey League leads by its motto of “The League of Opportunity”. The opportunity to play professional hockey every day for two young players from Sin City, Nevada all began in Aberdeen, South Dakota. One team. One goal. One family.