NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX — The Lone Star Brahmas are pleased to announce that defenseman Kyle Hallbauer has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for the 2018-19 season.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound defenseman was recently named to Team South for the NAHL’s Top Prospect Tournament, where he locked up his college commitment.
“Top Prospects was a great all-around experience. I loved being able to play with guys I normally hate and I had a lot of fun doing it,” Hallbauer said. “Playing in front of so many scouts can be intimidating at first but once you put it in the back of your mind and just play the way you know how, it’s just another game.”
While Hallbauer has been fielding interest from college programs all season, he wasn’t exactly expecting his commitment to RPI to come about so suddenly. “I had no idea what would come out of Top Prospects or how quickly it would happen,” he said. “And it came at a perfect time right around my birthday so that’s the best present I could ask for.”
Hallbauer, who turned 21 on March 2nd, is in his second and final year of juniors. Prior to this season, Hallbauer was dominating the Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Kingston Votageurs, leading all American defensemen in scoring. He put up 15 goals and 29 assists in 52 regular season games before deciding to make the move to the NAHL for the 2017-18 season.
His transition to the NAHL was a smooth one. Right from the start, Hallbauer saw plenty of ice time with the Brahmas. The coaching staff had Hallbauer playing heavy minutes at even strength, as well as placing him on the top power play and penalty kill units. He handled the workload with evident ease, and has 7 goals and 17 assists through 43 games. He also leads the team with a +21 rating.
“Playing for the Brahmas has helped me tremendously in all aspects of my game,” Hallbauer said. “I’ve been taught a ton since I’ve been here and I think without being here I wouldn’t have been able to be in this situation and I am forever grateful for that.”
With several offers from Division I programs left on the table, it was obvious that Hallbauer was unwilling to settle for anything less than the perfect fit. It turned out that RPI was exactly the school Hallbauer was looking for.
“I never technically had an official visit [to RPI],” Hallbauer said. “I went up with my mom during Christmas break and it was just an amazing school. Even with no students there, I could see myself walking around campus. I also chose it because the coaching staff really wants me to succeed and I believe I will get the most out of my opportunity there. They were very driven to have their players develop and their program be successful, and that’s what I want as well.”
RPI is also a prestigious school in terms of academics, which was certainly a factor Hallbauer took into consideration. He plans to study business, which is considered one of RPI’s strengths.
Hallbauer will join current Brahma Ture Linden at RPI next fall, where they’ll both be suiting up for their freshman years. “Knowing I will play with Ture again just makes everything easier,” Hallbauer said. “Having a familiar face right when I arrive will make it that much better, and knowing what he does on the ice will make it that much easier to play. He’s a great kid and I can’t wait to start my college career alongside him.”
Hallbauer’s junior hockey journey has been a fruitful one so far, and he’s clearly glad that he chose to come to the Brahmas for the way the coaching staff has helped his development. However, ending his junior career in Brahmaland is meaningful for another reason — Hallbauer learned to skate in this very rink, back when it was called the Blue Line Ice Complex. He grew up watching the Texas Tornado and still has some Tornado memorabilia in his bedroom at home, so it’s fitting for Hallbauer to wrap up his time in junior hockey back where he started.
“My hockey career up to now coming full circle is actually wild,” Hallbauer said. “I never thought I would be able to get the opportunity to play down here in Texas, let alone at the same rink I grew up in. I really enjoy playing here because the atmosphere is amazing and everyone has the same goal.”
That goal, of course, is to keep the Robertson Cup in Brahmaland. There were some big skates left to fill after last year’s team won the NAHL championship for the first time in Lone Star’s history, but Hallbauer is certainly doing his part.
There is little over a month left in the regular season, and then the Brahmas will begin their playoff run. And Kyle Hallbauer, as he has been all season, will be on the ice more often than not as he looks to help lead the team back to Robertson Cup final.