Tim Boron is looking for a change of scenery and culture. Jamie VanderVeeken is trying on a potential new career for size.
Both Rapid City Rush fan favorites have made, or are contemplating off-season moves.
Boron, one of the top goaltenders in the Central Hockey League during a three-year stint with the Rush, signed with GAP of the French League not long after the end of the Rush’s playoff run last month.
Boron went 53-25-5 over three seasons here with an average goals-allowed average of 2.61 and 0.915 saves percentage.
“My three years in Rapid were great, my three most successful years of pro hockey,” said Boron, of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“I had a lot of fun here, great fans and a great organization. I just enjoyed every aspect of playing here,” Boron said.
A milestone birthday coming up on May 22 helped fuel the decision to leave, Boron said.
“Turning 30, I thought it was a good time to go and experience the European game. It was a nice opportunity to go play with a former teammate in Collin Circelli. We talked a lot and he had a lot of good things to say about the situation,” Boron said.
VanderVeeken, a defenseman, is weighing a possible career as a firefighter, starting with the Rapid Valley Volunteer Fire Department.
“I’ve got my foot in the door and taking all the courses and getting myself qualified. If a full-time position becomes available, then that’s something I might pursue,” he said.
VanderVeeken, 27, a native of Wallaceburg, Ontario, is in the process of obtaining dual citizenship to allow him to work in this country once his hockey visa expires.
Currently his firefighter training is taking place all in the classroom, working with Captain Jim Bessel and Chief Tim Kobes.
“They know I’m very new and have a lot to learn. They’ve been patient and are helping me wherever they can,” he said.
VanderVeeken prowled the blueline during Rapid City’s first two full seasons, including the Central Hockey League championship year in 2010.
The Rush dealt VanderVeeken to the Arizona Sundogs for forward Konrad Reeder midway through the 2010-2011 season.
He played in Italy and the United Kingdom in 2011-2012 and started 2012-2013 with the Missouri Mavericks.
He re-signed with the Rush after Missouri released him in November.
VanderVeeken has not turned his back on playing again.
“I’m kind of up in the air right now. Hockey has been my life all I’ve known up to now. Obviously this is a big change,” he said.
“If I get the right job opportunity or something becomes open here in Rapid City, then maybe I’ll inquire about it with Coach Joe (Ferras), but as of right now I’m pretty focused on firefighting,” he said.
Boron leaves with mixed emotions.
“It was definitely a tough decision, to stay here for another season or go overseas. I mulled it over for a long time. I’m leaving here with great memories of the town, the rink and the hockey environment we get here in Rapid City, but I’m looking forward to go overseas and broaden the hockey experience. Not many people get the opportunity to play hockey in Europe and experience a new lifestyle and a new culture,” he said.