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AUSTIN EDITION - Hockey takes Hansen from Alaska to Texas

The afternoon weather was sunny and warm and Eric Hansen was on the golf course.

The Austin native had recently finished a hockey practice and was now hitting the links on a bright November day in Texas.

Hansen, 19, has landed with the Central Texas Marshals to continue his hockey career. The Marshall are a Junior A team located in the tri-area of Belton, Temple and Killeen, located in central Texas south of Waco.

Hansen has been in Texas the past three months playing for the Marshals, who play in the North American Hockey League. This is his second and final season playing Junior A hockey and is quite a contrast from a season ago when he played in Alaska at Fairbanks.

"It was fun but a little cold for me," Hansen said of playing in Alaska. He wasn't playing golf in November in Fairbanks. But that wasn't a problem on Wednesday when the temperatures were in the upper 70s in Texas.

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"It's beautiful," Hansen said by phone after completing his round of golf.

Traded in offseason

In the offseason Hansen was traded to Central Texas. Fairbanks and the Marshals are actually in the same league, and Hansen took a road trip to play the Marshals last season. They are in different divisions, however.

Life on the rink has been going well for the third of the Hansen brothers. All were standout players for the Packers in high school.

Both of his older brothers, Nate and Josh, played Junior A hockey before beginning their college careers. Nate is currently a junior at River Falls-Wisconsin. Josh is a freshman who tried out at Division I power North Dakota as a walk-on. He didn't make the team and will probably transfer to River Falls next semester.

Eric could be joining his brothers in the near future.

"Hopefully I get a Division I scholarship or else I'll probably head to River Falls," he said.

Captain of the Marshals

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Hansen is a team leader, and a captain for the Marshals, but he said he hasn't been contacted by any Division I coaches this season. He is defenseman who basically takes the ice every other shift.

"I play a lot," Hansen said.

The Marshals are off to a modest 6-10-2 start on the season. They opened in late August and the season runs until May. The team will play about 55 games in the regular season and would have to earn a playoff spot.

Hansen is having a strong season on defense, but he would like to boost his offense. He has three assists and no goals through 18 games.

"I just need to try and put the puck in the net and score more," he said. "But things are going pretty good right now."

To cut down on expenses, Junior A players live with families in the area they play. Hansen is staying with a family in Belton. The team does virtually all of its traveling by bus.

He was in Minnesota to compete in the Show Case Tournament in Blaine back on Oct. 20-25. He didn't have time to make a trip down to Austin but Hansen, along with his brothers, return home during the summer. Someday soon, the trio could again be teammates.

"That would be a lot of fun," Eric Hansen said.

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Guy N. Limbeck is a Post-Bulletin sports writer. His column runs every Thursday. He can be reached at glimbeck@postbulletin.com

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