As the Eagle flies, Sault Ste. Marie is about 265 miles north of the farming village of Fowlerville, Mich.
Fowlerville is where Soo Eagles defenceman Nathan Harris is from. Sault Ste. Marie is from where Harris hopes to land a scholarship to a Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association school.
Harris, a slick, cerebral 1992 birth year blueliner, is in his final season of junior eligibility. This 2012-13 season is the second for Harris in the North American Hockey League after spending the 2011-12 campaign with the Traverse City North Stars.
Eagles ownership purchased the Traverse City franchise last spring and moved it to Sault Ste. Marie for this season and Harris is one of several former North Stars who headed north to continue their NAHL careers.
Harris, while noting that Traverse City and Sault Ste. Marie "are two really different towns", said the move north to play for the Eagles "has been a positive one."
For starters, Harris noted that Sault Ste. Marie "is a really good hockey town. Our fans are really supportive."
Then there's the matter of playing for Eagles head coach Bruno Bragagnolo. Harris calls Bragagnolo "a really good guy to play for. Not only is he a good coach who runs a really good practice but he's approachable and really easy to talk to. I've already learned a lot playing for Bruno this season."
Harris is hoping that a second productive NAHL season will result in him moving on to play at the Division 1, NCAA level in 2013.
"So far, I haven't heard much from the D1 schools," said the 6-foot-1, 175 pound, right-handed shooting Harris. "Hopefully I'll impress some school and get the chance to play D1. That's been a dream of mine for a long time."
Bragagnolo didn't hesitate when asked if Harris has Division 1 potential.
"Absolutely, without question," said Bragagnolo. "Nathan is a very smart player and extremely coachable. He skates well, moves the puck well, is strong and does not make many mistakes. This is just his second year in the NAHL so hopefully the scouts will take more notice of him this season."
Harris put up good offensive numbers with Traverse City in 2011-12. He produced 25 points, including 10 goals, in 53 regular-season games and had a plus-minus rating of +14 to go with 47 minutes in penalties.
Thus far this 2012-13 season with the Eagles, Harris has two goals and four assists in 13 games while logging a lot of ice time for a Soo team that features no less than three 1995 birth year defencemen.
"Not only has Nathan played very well for us as one of our top defencemen, he's been an excellent role model and tutor for our younger kids," praised Bragagnolo. "He's a really good player and a really good kid and I would think that some Division 1 school is going to come calling."
Harris, from his end, can only keep giving his best and hope to get an offer from a good Division 1 school.
"I'm working really hard at trying to improve my overall game and Bruno has been a big help in making me a better player. He's such a good coach and he really cares about his players and helps us improve in so many ways."