MEQUON, Wis. – The Mason City Toros had eight players dress or play in the North American Hockey League this season, and two have tendered to take their shot at making the Tier II ranks next year. With six talented 2001-born players on this year’s roster, it was only a matter of time before one made Toros history with a college commitment.
Forward Derek Humphreys is that one.
Humphreys has announced his commitment to Concordia University of Wisconsin, an NCAA Division III institution and a member of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association. He becomes the first player to choose a college destination under the team’s new identity, after the NA3HL side rebranded from the North Iowa Bulls following the team’s 2021 Fraser Cup championship run. He also becomes the first Tier III player in Mason City history to choose the Falcons as his college home.
“Obviously, nothing is guaranteed for me in the lineup, but they liked what they saw out of me in the playoffs,” said Humphreys. “Bringing in 18 freshmen means that spots in the lineup will be up for the taking.”
The Spokane, Washington native was more than ready to take over a spot in the lineup when he came to Mason City over the New Year’s break from the Sheridan Hawks. After posting five goals and five assists in five games with Sheridan, he racked up points in seven of his first 10 games with the Toros, including a four-game goal-scoring streak to start the month of February. He also notched goals in both Fraser Cup West Division semifinal games against the Willmar WarHawks last month. He also earned a brief call-up to the NAHL on January 27, playing in a North Iowa Bulls home contest against the St. Cloud Norsemen.
“He’s a great player and a better person. We’re excited to see what’s in store in the college ranks,” said Toros head coach Nick Bruneteau. “He was a guy that we could trust in all situations, and he was a big part of our playoff success, especially in that first-round series. He was really good offensively for us, and we could trust him in both ends (of the ice), especially at the faceoff dot.”
Humphreys was well-prepared for his big moment after playing on the NA3HL’s largest stage last season, with 35 points in 20 regular-season games for Sheridan, an eventual Fraser Cup semifinalist.
Now, he’ll head to a team looking to return to NCHA prominence after a 2021-22 season in which the Falcons won just three games. As part of that 18-player freshman class, Humphreys will be part of head coach Bill Horton’s strategy of building that success from the ground up, and Humphreys says the coaching staff there knows exactly what they have in mind for him.
“They told me they needed a true center that could win faceoffs, which was a department they struggled in this past season,” said Humphreys. “My speed and my ability to make plays and produce really caught their attention.”
Humphreys says he will likely pursue a business major at Concordia, but is also considering a degree in physical therapy.
The Mason City Toros congratulate Derek Humphreys on his college commitment, and wish him further success at Concordia University Wisconsin in the next phase of his hockey career.