As of right now, Austin Yano doesn't know where he will play hockey next season.
Yano's emergence last year as one of the top rookies in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has landed the Estevan Bruins defenceman an opportunity south of the border.
Yano was named to the 25-man roster of the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League earlier this month. The Nebraska-based club selected him in the 18th round of the USHL draft in May.
Teams in the American Junior A circuit, which is often a stepping stone to Division 1 college hockey in the U.S., are required to cut down to 23 players before the season starts.
Yano's inclusion on the tentative July roster does not ensure him a spot on
the team come fall.
The White City native said there has been very little communication with the Stars, aside from a tryout camp he attended June 9-12 in Minneapolis.
"It's kind of still up in the air right now," he said. "Obviously they liked what they saw, because I made that top 25.
"Right now I feel like I have a pretty good chance. I think they have the right amount of imports and overagers."
The Stars told Yano following the camp that they'd keep him in the loop, but he doesn't know much about his immediate future, other than the fact he's slated to play in the USHL's exhibition tournament in Sioux City, Iowa, which runs Sept. 19-22.
If Yano is still with Lincoln at that point, he would miss the beginning of the SJHL season.
Bruins head coach and general manager Keith Cassidy said the team doesn't know any more than Yano does and is waiting to see what happens next.
"Right now it's a bit of a wait and see with him. Of course we'd love to have him back ... the ball is in (Yano's) court at this particular time."
Cassidy added that the team is looking to strengthen the defence corps for next season regardless of Yano's fate, whether it be from within the organization or via the trade route.
"We're always looking for good quality defencemen, and in that vein we've got some irons in the fire at the moment. That wouldn't have changed whether he does go or not," Cassidy said.
"You can never have enough good defencemen. They're the toughest commodity in all of hockey to find and the more of them you have, the better off you'll be."
Yano, who registered nine goals and 27 points from the back end as a rookie last year, said he feels the move would help him advance to the college ranks.
"The exposure level would be huge for colleges. I don't know a ton about the league, but from what I hear, it's a great place to play and Lincoln is a great place."