'Pucks and Circumstance' for Jackman, Carter

Former Maverick men's hockey players Tim Jackman and Ryan Carter returned to graduate more than a decade after first enrolling at University.

May 10, 2018 | Sports

By Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press

One college degree took 18 years to complete, the other 14 years.

But there were good reasons for the gaps.

Between the time they first arrived at Minnesota State University, Mankato and this past weekend, when they finally graduated from the university, Tim Jackman and Ryan Carter each spent several years playing in the National Hockey League.

On Saturday morning at Taylor Center, the 36-year-old Jackman and the 34-year-old Carter donned caps and gowns, walked through the commencement ceremony and collected their diplomas.

“It’s a miracle,” Jackman joked.

“I don’t know if I’d recommend it,” Carter said, laughing about his 14-year college track.

Each played two seasons for Minnesota State before turning pro, Jackman signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team that drafted him in the second round in 2001, and Carter inking a free-agent deal with the Anaheim Ducks.

Jackman, who started at MSU in the fall of 2000, played 492 NHL games with six teams before retiring in 2016. Carter, who arrived in Mankato in 2004, played 519 games with five teams, including the Minnesota Wild, before hanging up his skates last year. Both players received degrees in interdisciplinary studies. Jackman returned to campus in 2016 and spent two years completing his degree and working with the Mavericks as an undergraduate assistant coach.

“It’s rewarding that I was able to finish what I started in 2000,” Jackman said. “When I came to Mankato the first time, I was so immature. I was just here to play hockey; I didn’t regard my degree at all. I didn’t think I’d ever finish it.”

Jackman wants to remain in coaching, so getting a college degree was imperative. Besides getting the diploma, though, he basically had a two-year internship with his old team.

He worked practices and games, sometimes getting to be on the bench when one of the other assistants was out recruiting. He worked individually with injured players, helping them get back into playing shape, and skated non-traveling players when the Mavericks were on the road, helping them prepare for their next opportunity.

“I don’t know what’s next,” Jackman said. “I’m looking at my options. I’d like to get into coaching hockey and developing players.”

Carter, too, isn’t certain as what he’ll do next — something in sports management, perhaps, or graduate school. He said finishing his bachelor’s degree was a good way to ease into his post-playing career life.

While Jackman and his family moved to Mankato, Carter stayed in the Twin Cities and took classes online. He occasionally traveled to Mankato to meet with advisers.

“I had some anxiety after playing,” Carter said. “School got me back in a disciplined mode. It was good for my transition from hockey player to whatever’s next.”

Jackman and Carter weren’t the first NHL players to complete their MSU degree years after departing for the pros. Others have included David Backes, whose season ended Sunday when the Boston Bruins were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Backes left the Mavericks with Carter in 2006 but after three years of school. He graduated in 2014.

Both Jackman and Carter credited longtime Mavericks assistant coach Darren Blue, himself an MSU alum, for encouraging them to complete their degrees.

The entire version of this story can be read in the May 8, 2018 print edition of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also published this story online at www.mankatofreepress.com.

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Categories: Sports