From the High River paper – written by Don Patterson
“High River Times — Just because NHL players had to sit this season out, doesn’t mean there was no professional hockey this year. One former High River native got the opportunity to hit the ice this year as a member of a professional hockey team in Memphis, Tenn. After playing hockey while attending New England College in the U.S., Travis Banga got to live out most young Canadians’ dreams when he played pro hockey with the Memphis River Kings in the Central Hockey League.
“It’s every kids dream to play professional hockey and I’ll live that dream for as long as I can,” he said.
Banga quickly found his stride after joining the team in December. He played 41 games and finished the year with 59 points. He ranked fourth on the team and second in the league for rookie scoring.
He didn’t expect to be playing professional hockey or that it would pay for his education. In the end, Banga said he’s fortunate to still be playing the game at the age of 25.
“I think the game’s the same no matter where you go. It’s just where you feel comfortable. And, now that it’s professional hockey it’s about where you’re going to get the most money,” he said. “Wherever you go, you have to make sure you’re still having fun and still get to play the game.”
While the River Kings have only been playing in Memphis for the last six years, Banga said the city’s fans came to embrace the sport. It is a great place to play hockey, he added.
“It’s a great fan base; they won back-to-back championships a couple years ago. There are great facilities, a nice rink and it’s nice and warm compared to High River,” he said.
According to Banga, the level of play in the CHL is a step up from junior and college hockey, but ranks slightly below the AHL.
Banga began playing hockey at the age of four. He played on High River’s minor hockey teams until he joined the Foothills Bisons.
He went on to play college hockey in the U.S., first at the University of New Hampshire for one and a half years before transferring to New England College to finish his time in school.
Banga hopes to try out for an AHL team next season. If he doesn’t make an AHL team he said he’ll play in Memphis again.”