The sky’s the limit for Traverse City North Stars forward Clinton Bourbonais, and even that’s not necessarily an impenetrable boundary.
The Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep product announced his commitment to the Air Force Academy on Tuesday, where he’ll play for the Falcons on a full scholarship, starting in the fall of 2009.
“It’s a pretty awesome feeling,” admitted Bourbonais. “There’s the relief factor - you have that off your shoulders and can focus even more on refining your game. It’s a tremendous opportunity and I’ll work hard to make sure I’m ready.”
Bourbonais, who is fifth among North Stars in scoring with five goals and 12 assists through 32 games, is also on the NHL’s radar, having been listed among those who have the potential to be drafted in the third-to-fifth rounds of the NHL Entry Draft in June by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau.
“I’m not sure that (the NHL) is a realistic goal,” said Bourbonais, who sports a 4.4 grade-point average and scored a 29 on the ACT. “I’ll cross that bridge if it presents itself. I have to prepare myself for life after hockey as well.”
North Stars coach-GM Anthony Palumbo says that Air Force is going to get a high-flying forward ready to help the Falcons compete for an Atlantic Hockey title.
“They got themselves a great hockey player,” he explained. “I think Clinton will come in and make an impact from day one. He’s a very skilled player who competes hard every night. That’s a pretty good combination of attributes, and I think that’s what they saw in him, too.”
Bourbonais says he’ll play another season with the North Stars before heading west to the Colorado Springs campus to begin his six-week basic training in the summer of 2009. Air Force recruits serve a minimum of five years following the completion of their education - 10 years for those who train to become pilots.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking long and hard about,” said Bourbonais. “I guess I still have some time to sort that out. I’m just very happy to be headed there. I was very impressed with the campus when I went on my visit in December, and am excited to play for coach (Frank) Serratore.”
Bourbonais is the 11th current or former North Stars player to commit to or play for an NCAA Division I program in the club’s two-plus years of existence. The others include: Danny Dries (New Hampshire), Eric Elmblad (Michigan), Travis Hamway and Phil Partyka (Wayne State), Kory Kaunisto (Northern Michigan), Patrick Nagorsen and Travis Paeth (Western Michigan), Steven Oleksy (Lake Superior State), Nick Von Bokern (Nebraska-Omaha) and Anthony Schooley (Michigan Tech).