By Warren Kozireski —
You would never know it from watching him play for Team USA in the USHL as their mix schedule also features games against Division I college programs. You would also never guess from talking with the player some see in the mix as a potential number one overall NHL draft pick in 2025.
He is only one month into his 17th year.
And as this is written, he was the youngest player invited and was competing for one of 25 roster spots for Team USA at the U-20 World Junior Championships that begin Dec. 26 in Sweden.
“I’m going to go there and try to put everything I have on the ice and hopefully it’s enough to make that team, so I know that I’m going to give it my all and put everything on the line,” Hagens said after a game at St. Lawrence University. (Unfortunately, Hagens didn’t make this year’s team as of this article.)
Hagens began his development with his brother Michael on the Long Island Royals for one season before moving on to Mount St. Charles for two years before they split and is now in his second year with the U.S. National Team Development Program.
He will rejoin his brother, currently playing with Chicago in the USHL, at Boston College this coming fall.
“My parents are kind of sick of taking flights to two different states, so they love that we’re (going to be) together and I really just want to be with him again.
“It’s going to be cool to be on the same ice as him, being in the same classes and the same dorm, so it’s going to be really fun.”
The 5’10”, 170 lb. left shot center is wearing an “A” this season. During games against some college hockey programs, he is competing with players as much as eight years older than he is.
“You don’t really think about that when you’re on the ice, but it’s definitely helpful having those bigger guys bear down on you.
It is all part of the plan. Hagens already skates well, sees the ice with the best of them and prefers the left faceoff dot after opponent icings, but continues to focus on his development going forward.
“I’m working on everything to be honest. Every day I’m working on my shot trying to get that better so that I can be a threat from anywhere on the ice. And you always have to work on your skating. You’re never perfect at anything, so I just try to work on everything every day.”
Last season with the National program, Hagens accumulated a combined 59 goals with 82 assists over 115 regular season and international tournament games. This season, he already had 53 points over the first 33 games.
As good as he has been against players older than he is, Hagens is on another level when competing in his own age group. At the U-17 World Championships in British Columbia in November ’22, he set an event record for points with 21 over seven games before winning gold in Switzerland this past April.
“The best memory though is probably to win the gold there and how we did it being able to go over there and win every game with those guys.
“There’s no better feeling than to be able to sing that song after your win in the locker room with the guys, so that was probably my favorite memory and I’m sure it’s everyone else’s.”
(Photos by Rena Laverly/USA Hockey NTDP)