Phoenix native, junior hockey veteran Bunting decides on NCAA D-I Air Force for next stop in career
Sean Bunting is a Phoenix native playing junior hockey in Shreveport, La., with a college commitment in hand to head to Colorado Springs in the fall.
Bunting, playing his third season of junior hockey and first with the NAHL’s Shreveport Mudbugs, committed last week to attend and play NCAA Division I hockey at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“I started talking to the coaching staff a few months ago and developed a great relationship with them,” said Bunting, a Jr. Coyotes graduate. “When an opportunity opened up, I had to complete a rigorous application process pretty quickly. The opportunity to combine a very good education and play for such a close-knit community appealed to me. I have heard nothing but great things about the character people they recruit and am excited to join that locker room.”
Bunting noted that his grandfather and his brother served in the Air Force during World War II. He’ll major in either Civil Engineering or Mechanical Engineering, “something hands on, because I like building things. The commitment excites me because there are so many things to do in the Air Force.”
“The Air Force Academy will be a great fit for Sean,” Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell said. “He came right in at the beginning of the year as a big part of our leadership group. His personality and rugged style of play has made him a Mudbugs fan favorite. Air Force is getting a player that has been used and can play in all situations. He’s a strong skater, hits like a truck, and has a great shot.
“We’d like to wish Sean and Air Force the best in the future.”
During the 2020-21 regular season, Bunting appeared in 54 games and recorded 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists).
“It was kind of a blessing in disguise coming to Shreveport,” said Bunting, who played junior hockey the previous two seasons with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers and BCHL’s Langley Rivermen before getting chosen by Shreveport in the 2020 NAHL Entry Draft. “It’s been a great learning experience and cultural experience. All of our coaches have pro hockey experience. Two of our coaches actually played in the NHL, so learning the finite details of the game from them has helped me. Another aspect that has prepared me for college is practicing and playing with and against older, stronger players because of the unlimited amount of age-out players a team can have in the NAHL.”
Originally from California, Bunting and his family moved to Arizona when he was three years old.
“My mom was picking up tickets for a school raffle at the Polar Ice in chandler (now the Ice Den),” remembered Bunting. “She brought me along and I was glued to the glass watching this sport I had never seen. I believe I started skating lessons the next week.”
Growing up, Bunting played for the Jr. Coyotes, Phoenix Firebirds and Arizona Bobcats.
“Every coach has had a positive impact on my career so far,” Bunting said. “The ones that stick out are Jayson Oliver, Ron Filion, Brad Perry, and Shawn McCosh.”
Moving forward, Bunting has set reachable goals, on and off the ice.
“In the short term, I want to win a Robertson Cup,” he said. “Long term, I want to help the Falcons get into the Frozen Four. I want to graduate with a major in some type of engineering and look forward to serving my country after graduation.”
— Matt Mackinder
(May 26, 2021)