Firstie forward Dominic Franco of the Army West Point Hockey team has been offered a one-year contract within the Buffalo Sabres organization through their American Hockey League affiliate, the Rochester Americans, announced Tuesday.
He is the first hockey player to receive a professional offer in the sport of hockey since the secretary of defense endorsed a policy in November making it possible for exceptionally talented athletes who have graduated from a military service academy to pursue employment as professional sports athletes following graduation. Once approved, he will be permitted to delay his commissioning and subsequent service obligation to pursue employment as a professional sports athlete.
“We are extremely proud of Dom,” said Mike Buddie, Director of Athletics, Army West Point. “He has earned this opportunity through his hard work and determination while representing the Corps of Cadets on the ice. After spending 47 months training to serve our country, I am thrilled for Dom to have this opportunity to continue his hockey career and am convinced this will only make him a better officer when that time comes.” A 2019-20 alternate captain, Franco recently completed his firstie season for Army as the leading scorer for the third-straight year. A four-year starter, Franco garnered Atlantic Hockey All-Conference Second Team honors this past season and was named to the All-Rookie Team in his first season. The Portsmouth, R.I., native has posted a team-leading 22 multi-point games including seven multi-assist performances and four multi-goal contests. Franco has recorded double-digit goals in the last three seasons.
“We are very excited about the opportunity the Buffalo Sabres Organization has given Dom,” said head coach Brian Riley. “He has had a great four years here at West Point and there is no doubt that we are going to miss him. On the ice Dom is one of those players that has the ability to take over a game because of his skill and size. Most importantly he has represented this program and this Academy in a way that has made all of us proud. We look forward to watching him play at the professional level and we wish him much success.” The graduates of each of the military service academies are obligated to serve in the armed forces for a minimum five years as commissioned officers immediately following graduation. The provision signed into policy in November allows the secretary to offer select athletes the opportunity to serve as enlisted members in the individual ready reserve of the armed forces while employed as professional athletes until such a time as the secretary tenders their appointment as commissioned officers in a military service.
The mission of the Army West Point Athletic Association is to provide an extraordinary Division I athletic experience that develops leaders of character committed to the values of duty, honor and country.