GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After signing with the Grand Rapids Griffins in March, Drew Worrad feels like he is right where he’s supposed to be.

It was a no-brainer for him to start his professional career just down US-131 from where he played college hockey.

“It’s been a unique journey but the right journey for me,” Worrad said. “It helps having my old teammates right down the road. I’ve left but I’m still really close by and can keep in touch with a lot of those people.”

After four seasons playing at Western Michigan, Worrad decided to chase his dream of playing pro hockey. He had the opportunity to stay in Kalamazoo for a bonus season due to COVID-19, but ending his Broncos career on a historic note was enough for him to make the leap. Worrad led WMU in scoring this year with 45 points on a team-high 36 assists and nine goals.

“You always try to leave it better than you arrived and this past season we had the best season in Broncos history, which was great,” Worrad said. “The program’s in very good hands with the young players that are coming up. The staff there is unbelievable. I was able to grow so much.”

It was an abrupt end for the Broncos’ points leader when his college career ended in the postseason just after the program’s first NCAA Tournament win. As a No. 1 seed, the Broncos were just one game shy of making the Frozen Four before losing to Minnesota in the second round.

Days later, Worrad signed with the Griffins.

“Just the guys taking me under their wings and the staff helping me out as much as possible has made it a lot easier than it could’ve been,” Worrad said. “It could’ve been very tough.”

His professional debut didn’t happen quite as quickly as his college postseason ended. The Birr, Ontario, native had to wait a week before playing in a game while he sorted out issues with his visa. To avoid deportation, Worrad had to change his student visa to a work visa.

“Obviously, I wanted to play right away. Obviously, that wasn’t able to work with how things unfolded,” Worrad said. “But being able to get some practices in with style of play and adjustments to the professional game has been great.”

This is only the beginning for the AHL rookie who hopes to make the leap to the NHL and pursue his lifelong dream.

“I’m just going to give it my all every single shift and taking full advantage of this great opportunity that’s been put in front of me,” Worrad said.

Worrad will play with the Griffins for the remainder of the 2021-22 season and the 2022-23 season.