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J. J. O’Connor Makes Lasting and Continuing Impact on Disabled Hockey

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By Greg Bates —

Chair of USA Hockey’s Disabled Section has helped grow all levels and disciplines of disabled hockey

J.J. O’Connor still remembers how awkward he felt in that first meeting.

It was June 2002, and the 23-year-old had just been elected the chair of the Disabled Section for USA Hockey.

“The funny thing was that they were looking for somebody to run the section and to be a good fit, but I had no clue what I was doing,” O’Connor said. “Here I am 23 years old and I’ve been asked to lead this group — I was the youngest board member ever. The large majority of the people around me were significantly older than I was. Now I look to be in a leadership role and I’m just a kid.” 

O’Connor left the meeting and talked to his friend Jim Smith, who had recommended O’Connor become the Disabled Section chair. Smith, who is now the president of USA Hockey, had a few words of advice for the youngster, including, “Don’t worry, you’ll learn.”

O’Connor in fact learned on the fly. Now, 18 years later, his impact as a volunteer for USA Hockey has been almost immeasurable. 

J.J. poses with the O’Connor Courage Trophy, which is awarded each year to the Tier I champion at the USA Hockey Sled Classic.

“We were looking for someone who knew the game of ice hockey, could communicate and relate positively to those with disabilities and who had the leadership skills to take this portion of our game to heights it had never reached previously,” said Smith about O’Connor. “J.J. was a natural fit to take over the Disabled Section.”

O’Connor was a natural fit because he knew and loved the game despite a tragic on-ice accident that led to him being paralyzed. 

A Chicago native, O’Connor attended Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois, and as a 16-year-old, he played for the Chicago Patriots. He was hoping to play for his high school team or the Skokie Flyers, but due to missing tryouts for a couple unforeseen reasons, O’Connor stuck with the Patriots.

“The funny thing about it was there was almost like this message out there in the universe that maybe this season I should sit it out,” O’Connor said. “But I was obviously in love with the game and persistent and decided to play with the Patriots anyway.”

The first game of the season, Oct. 24, 1995, the Patriots were playing their rival Flyers, the team O’Connor was hoping to skate for. The roster was filled with his friends. O’Connor was going to do anything to pull off the upset against the defending state champions.

“My first shift, one of my teammates just over the red line dumped it in and I’m the first forward in [with] the defenseman on the other team,” O’Connor said. “He was my closest friend from that team — we hung out lots outside of hockey in general. There was no ill will, so we were just both chasing after the puck and it was just the exact reason why the NHL and everybody’s changed from touch icing because two players going full speed for a puck on the boards. As we both approached the puck to touch it and play the puck, we just tripped on each other. We both just got tangled up. We both fell — he had his feet go out from under him and I fell face first.” 

O’Connor crashed into the boards, suffered a C4 spinal cord injury and was immediately a quadriplegic. He went on to graduate from Loyola Academy and attended Lake Forest College. Just one year after graduation, O’Connor found his purpose in life through USA Hockey. 

Now at 41, O’Connor is still going strong in his position. When he took over the Disabled Section, there were four disciplines: sled, special hockey, deaf/hard of hearing and standing/amputee. Every discipline was in its infancy and relatively unknown. 

“I wanted it to be known,” said O’Connor, who lives in Mount Prospect, Illinois. “I don’t know if recognition is the right word for the section, maybe awareness of the section. I wanted to put on the map so people would know about it and disabled athletes would be known for the adversities that they overcome and yet still are hockey players just like everybody else.” 

In the last four years, two more disciplines were added to the disabled section: warrior hockey and blind/visually impaired. O’Connor played a big role in the creation of those two disciplines. 

Every discipline is excelling, but sled hockey has reached insurmountable heights. The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team has captured gold in four of the last five Paralympic Winter Games, including the last three in a row.

DISABLED DISCIPLINES

“We’ve dominated on the international side in sled hockey in the time that I’ve been chair, so I can’t help but be proud of that,” O’Connor said. “I believe our successes are great. I feel like we’ve come a long way in 18 years.” 

Smith cited helping turn the U.S. sled team into the top program in the world as O’Connor’s biggest accomplishment to date.

“J.J.’s vision to help create the USA Sled Lending Program so organizations can conduct learn-to-play sled hockey clinics around the country and the distribution of funding through the sled lending grants has brought more sled players into our game than any other country in the world,” Smith said. 

“While our sled players are extremely talented and our staffs have been phenomenal, the vision for all of these sled programs enacted under J.J.’s leadership and guidance is one of the main reasons we have been the most dominant national sled team in the world over the past 15 years.”

Another feather in the cap for O’Connor was the formation and success of the Disabled Hockey Festival. It’s the largest indoor event USA Hockey puts on every year. In 2019, 155 teams with over 2,600 players and coaches participated over two weekends. 

Even though during the Disabled Hockey Festival is a hectic time, O’Connor makes sure he takes a step back to take in the magnitude of the event.

DISABLED FESTIVAL

“It sinks in more often than one would think,” O’Connor said. “I still run a sled hockey team locally and a week before everything shut down for the virus at the end of the season, I had a 14-year-old boy who’s going through chemo treatments and trying to beat cancer and he came out and tried sled hockey for the first time. The smile on the kid’s face, it never gets old. He couldn’t wait to come back and he couldn’t wait to get done with chemo so he could be a full-fledged member of the team. It’s those moments that you stand back and you think, ‘Wow. We did a good job here.’” 

When O’Connor dealt with his life-altering injury at 16, he hoped to turn his tragic accident into a positive down the line. 

“I’m feeling like I did what I set out to do,” O’Connor said. “I wanted to make the world a better place, the Disabled Section a better place than when I got it, and I feel like I’ve been able to do that. I’ve been able to give back to the game I love. I’ve been able to give back to the game that’s meant so much to me.” 

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Lachapelle To Coach US U18 Women’s National Team

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Katie Lachapelle Named Head Coach for U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team. Was former Asst. Coach with Niagara University.
Assistant Coaches Also Named, including Colgate U. Asst. Coach.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey announced that Katie Lachapelle (Lewiston, Maine), who brings more than 20 years of collegiate coaching experience and is currently the head women’s ice hockey coach at Holy Cross, has been named head coach of the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team that will play in the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championship anticipated to take place this coming January.

Joining her as assistant coaches will be Melanie Ruzzi (Princeton, N.J.), assistant women’s ice hockey coach at Princeton University; Chelsea Walkland (Hamilton, N.Y.), assistant women’s ice hockey coach at Colgate University; and Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.), a member of the gold medal-winning 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team. In addition, Alli Altmann (Eagan, Minn.) returns to the staff as goaltending coach.

“We’re extremely fortunate to have Katie leading our team this season,” said Katie Million, director of women’s national team programs for USA Hockey. “She brings significant experience, including in international hockey, and has played an important role in our overall women’s national team program for several years.

“We’re also thrilled to have Mel, Chelsea, Brianna and Alli part of the coaching staff. Overall, we have a great group that is focused on helping bring a gold medal back to our country at the world championship early next year.”

ABOUT LACHAPELLELachapelle is serving as head coach of the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team for the first time, however, is no stranger to the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National program, having been an assistant coach for four straight seasons from 2013-17. During that time, she helped lead the U.S. to three gold medals (2015-17) and one silver medal (2014) in the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship and also was part of the staff of the U.S. Under-18 Select Team that played in the U18 Series against Canada each season.

Lachapelle has also served as an assistant coach of the U.S. Women’s National Under-22 Select Team both in 2018 and 2019 and has been a coach at numerous national and player development camps over the last decade.

“I’m extremely honored and grateful to serve as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team,” said Lachapelle. “I’m excited for the challenge ahead, and I look forward to working with the best young players in the country. Thank you to USA Hockey for this opportunity.”

Lachapelle finished her third season, and first as head coach, with the Holy Cross women’s ice hockey team in 2019-20. She spent the first two seasons as the team’s associate head coach. The Lewsiton, Maine, native helped increase the team’s win total in Hockey East by four in her first year as head coach and also its conference point total by nine.

Prior to joining the Crusaders coaching staff, Lachapelle was an assistant coach for nine seasons at Boston University (2008-17). During that time, she helped the Terriers to five Hockey East titles and six NCAA Tournament appearances, including two trips to the Frozen Four (2011, 2013) where the Terriers advanced to the title game both years.

She also spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Ohio State University (2004-08) and prior to that was an assistant coach at Niagara University from 2001-04, highlighted by a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2002.

She began her collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach at Union College for two seasons (1999-01). Lachapelle received the Women’s Assistant Coach Award from the American Hockey Coaches Association in 2013.

ABOUT RUZZIRuzzi is serving as an assistant coach for the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team for the first time. She has been involved with USA Hockey since 2006, including serving as the director of USA Hockey’s multi-district girls camp for the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Districts since 2017.

She recently finished her first season as an assistant coach of the Princeton University women’s hockey team where she helped the Tigers to a program-record 26-win campaign, including the school’s first ECAC Tournament championship. The team also qualified for the NCAA quarterfinals.

Ruzzi began her coaching career at NCAA Division II Amherst College in 2005, where she was an assistant coach for two seasons. Following that, she served as an assistant coach at Harvard University before returning to her alma mater, Providence College, for six years (2012-18) as an associate coach.

ABOUT WALKLAND: Walkland makes her debut as an assistant coach for the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team this season. She recently finished her first campaign as an assistant coach for the Colgate University women’s hockey team and helped guide the Red Raiders to a 17-15-6 record.

Walkland spent the five seasons prior to arriving at Colgate in a similar capacity at her alma mater, Robert Morris, where she helped the Colonials to three College Hockey America regular-season titles. Walkland began her collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach with Rochester Institute of Technology in 2011-12, a season that included a 28-1-1 record and an NCAA Division III national championship.

She then served for two seasons (2012-14) as an assistant coach at the State University of New York at Oswego. Walkland has previous experience with USA Hockey having been involved with the organization’s various player development camps since 2012.

ABOUT DECKER: Decker returns for a third consecutive season as an assistant coach for the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team. Since she joined the program’s coaching staff, Team USA has earned the gold medal in the 2020 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championship and a silver medal in 2019.

Decker has also served as a coach at various Central District camps since 2012 and at the USA Hockey Girls Under-18 Select Player Development Camps. Additionally, Decker has served as an assistant coach with the Madison Capitals and at various other camps since graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 2014. Decker, a two-time Olympian (2018-gold, 2014-silver), six-time International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship gold medalist (2013-19, 2011), two-time Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year Award recipient (2017, 2015) and recipient of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award (2012), continues to be an active player in the USA Hockey women’s program.

ABOUT ALTMANN: Altmann is serving as the goaltending coach for the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team for the third consecutive season. Since joining the coaching staff, Team USA has earned the gold medal in the 2020 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championship as well as a silver medal in 2019.

Altmann has also served as the goaltending coach for two USA Hockey Women’s National Festivals (2018, 2017) and for the U.S. Under-18 Women’s Select Team (2017). Altmann played four seasons collegiately at Minnesota State University (2008-12) where she holds the record for most games played by a goaltender with 110. Currently, she serves as vice president of DEVENIR Goaltenders.

NOTES: Kristen Wright (St. Paul, Minn.) will serve as general manager of the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team. Wright has been part of the USA Hockey staff since 2014 and currently serves as the American Development Model manager for female hockey … The IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship is scheduled to be played for the 14th time in 2021. The dates and location of the tournament will be announced later this year … Team USA has captured a record eight gold medals in the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship (2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020) and also has five silver medals (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019) to its credit.

“Small Saves”

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Here is this week’s edition of “Small Saves.” It is certainly appropriate for the times. Enjoy!

RPI’s McGuane Equipment Manager of the Year

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TROY, N.Y. – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) equipment manager Dana McGuane has been named the recipient of the District 1 Equipment Manager of the Year (Dot Cutting) Award from the Athletic Equipment Managers Association (AEMA). The award is voted on by all members of District 1, which includes eight states and four Canadian provinces, and is given annually to recognize the individual who has provided the most service to the association.

McGuane has been the equipment manager at Rensselaer since the fall of 2003. He is the point person for the men’s hockey program, while also working with each of the other 22 intercollegiate teams and their coaches, as well as the facilities staff and the athletic department administration, in particular in the areas of finance and procurement.

This year McGuane planned and hosted the District 1 winter meeting at Rensselaer. In addition to being active in the AEMA, he is heavily involved with USA Hockey. A longtime contributor, he was part of the USA Under-17 Select team staff that traveled to the Five Nations Tournament in Piestany, Slovakia, in the summer of 2018.

Before joining the Engineers, McGuane worked in the New Jersey Devils organization, including one year as the head equipment manager with the parent club and four years with the Albany River Rats (now Binghamton Devils) of the American Hockey League.

During his one season with New Jersey, he was a member of the 2000 Stanley Cup Champions. While with Albany, the certified member of the AEMA served as the equipment manager at the 1996 AHL All-Star Game in Hershey, Pa.

McGuane was the equipment manager and athletic trainer for the Roanoke Express of the East Coast Hockey League from 1993-95. He also provided his expertise during the off-season to the Roller Hockey International’s Philadelphia Bulldogs from 1994-96. 

A native of Binghamton, N.Y., McGuane attended Wagner College. He and his wife, Arlene, reside in Castleton with their two children, Patrick and Emma. 

(RPI Photo)

RPI Hockey Sr. Spotlight: Shane Bear

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At Rensselaer, we are proud to recognize the student-athletes who are members of the Class of 2020. We thank them for their hard work, dedication and tremendous efforts in representing the Institute in a first-class manner academically and athletically. We wish them well as they continue to complete the semester and become Rensselaer alumni / alumnae. 

While at Rensselaer:
Two-year performer … Played 33 games with Engineers after transferring from UMass … One goal and four assists in Troy … Blocked 29 shots … Business and Management major … Dean’s Honor List … Intern at new Energy Corporation Inc.

Favorite sports memory during career?
“Big Red Freakout!” – April 2020

What makes Rensselaer so special?
“The loyal fan base and exceptional academics.” – April 2020

From the coaching staff:
“‘Shane was an exceptional communicator. He was a connector on our team and was a primary driver behind our positive culture.” – March 2020 

What others say:
“Amazing teammate. Would take the time to check in on every guy and see how they were doing and if they needed help with anything. Always brought a mild form of humor into all the guys and made the year really enjoyable.” – April 2020

“Great person who supports on and off the ice and helps to raise your confidence.” – April 2020

“Taught me a lot about college and will be a lifelong friend.” – April 2020

“Great leader, teammate and everyone’s friend.” – April 2020

“Team-first kind of guy who wants the best for everyone around him.” – April 2020

All Senior Celebration Series pieces are available by clicking HERE.

Lumberjacks Sign Jr. Sabres Mehlenbacher To Tender Agreement

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Lumberjacks sign forward Owen Mehlenbacher to tender agreement

By Scott Bradford–

MUSKEGON, MI — The Muskegon Lumberjacks have announced the signing of forward Owen Mehlenbacher to a tender agreement ahead of the 2020-2021 USHL season.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound forward from Fort Erie, Ontario, racked up 36 goals and 68 points in 69 games during the 2019-2020 season with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres organization. The 16-year-old becomes the seventh tender in Muskegon history, and the first from Canada.

Per the tender agreement, Lumberjacks fans will see Mehlenbacher in a minimum of 55% of Muskegon’s regular-season games in 2020-2021. 

The big forward prides himself on playing a complete game.

“I’m a 200-foot forward,” said Mehlenbacher. “I always back-check and I have great offensive capabilities. I can score goals for the team, but I love working hard for my teammates.”

President of Hockey Operations Steve Lowe had this to say about the talented forward:

“We are super excited to bring a young man like Owen to our organization,” said Lowe. “He has a tremendous skill package of size, hockey smarts, and the ability to make game-breaking plays.”

“What attracted us to Owen even more was his drive to improve and his maturity as a young man. As we went through the process we also learned what a great job his parents, Craig and Nicole, have done raising Owen as a young man.”

Mehlenbacher had high praise for Lowe and the Muskegon staff as well.

“I talked to a couple of the staff members and I am very comfortable with them,” said Mehlenbacher. “Muskegon itself, the location is similar to my hometown- it’s right on the lake, it’s kinda similar in that perspective.”

Head coach Mike Hamilton, who enters his third year as Muskegon’s bench boss, echoed similar sentiments about Owen’s abilities.

“We are excited to add one of the top ‘04’s in North America to our 2020-21 lineup,” said Hamilton. “Owen is a big body that fits our style; he’s a great skater with high-end skill, his game is honest and he is committed to playing a full 200-foot game.”  

Mehlenbacher said that Canada has not avoided the lockdowns that we’re experiencing here in the states, but he’s been staying busy.

“I have a personal gym in my basement with a bike, and I’ve been riding that every day. Just going outside, playing some basketball, shooting some pucks, and spending time with family.”

What everyone can agree on is that despite the way the 2019-2020 season ended, there is excitement surrounding the addition of Mehlenbacher and the upcoming season.

“I’m excited about the atmosphere,” said Mehlenbacher. “I’ve heard from a lot of people that it’s a great barn to play in and I can’t wait to get started.”

“Owen plans to play college hockey and chose the USHL and Muskegon to showcase and grow his skill set,” said Hamilton. “We as a staff couldn’t be more excited.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to add a quality person like Mehlenbacher to the Jacks organization,” said Lowe.

USA Hockey Postpones Level 5 Coaches Symposium

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Event rescheduled for Aug. 19-22 of 2021
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey announced today that it has postponed the 2020 Level 5 Coaches Symposium, set for Aug. 20-23 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in Duluth, Minnesota.

“While we are disappointed that we had to make this decision, it is in the best interest of everyone involved” said Mark Tabrum, director of coaching education for USA Hockey. “Safety is always our top priority, which is why we felt it was important to push it back a year.”

The event has been rescheduled for Aug. 19-22, 2021, at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in Duluth, Minnesota. Participants who have already registered will have the option to either transfer their registration fee to next year’s event or receive a full refund.

“It’s definitely disappointing, but at the end of the day it is the right call,” said Mike MacMillan, USA Hockey coach-in-chief. “We want to ensure everyone’s safety at our events and this is the best way forward during this time of uncertainty.”

ABOUT THE LEVEL 5 COACHES SYMPOSIUM
Typically held every other year, the USA Hockey Level 5 Coaches Symposium is for aspiring coaches seeking to attain their Level 5 coaching certification, the highest offered by USA Hockey. Attendees have the opportunity to learn from some of the top coaches and executives in the sport, including those in professional and college hockey, as well as top coaches internationally.

“May The 4th Be With You”

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May the 4th Be With You and Yours In Hockey.

Marker Agrees To Return To Wolves

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By David Paige

A busy month continues for the Watertown Wolves!

Just a week after introducing Brent Clarke as the team’s new Head Coach, the Wolves are excited to announce that last season’s Scoring Leader and FPHL “Rookie of the Year”, Ryan Marker, has agreed to return to the team next season, and to relocate to Watertown full time, to be able to completely dedicate himself to the Wolves’ quest for a Commissioners Cup ring.

Marker couldn’t be more excited to be back in the den representing the Watertown Wolves.

Marker stated, “When I got the call and Andreas told me he wanted to resign me, it was an automatic decision. There is no other place I want to play hockey than in Watertown.” He then went on to say, “We have unfinished business with how the league had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak and we didn`t even get a chance to make a run for the cup.”

New Watertown Wolves head coach Brent Clarke: “Ryan Marker is a game changer, he puts pucks into the back of the net and that’s what we are hoping for him to do for us this season. He plays with 110% effort every night, and if you get him to an open position you can`t stop him. Ryan is also a great weapon for us on the power play, something we want to capitalize on even more this coming season.”

Watertown Wolves owner Andreas Johansson said, “We are excited to have Ryan back in Watertown, there is no questioning that he is an elite player in this league, but as much as anything he has shown great character off the ice, and is obsessed with the idea of maximizing the success of himself and his teammates, which is exactly the type of player we want to have in our organization. I expect Ryan’s level of play to raise even further as part of Coach Clarke’s system, and we will look to maximize his potential here with us in Watertown.“

Marker began last season with the Delaware Thunder, where he played 30 games scoring 31 goal and getting 24 assists for 55 points. He was then traded to Watertown where he suited up for 12 games scoring 11 goals and getting 10 assists for 21 points, and with these stats Marker was able to capture the FPHL Scoring title.

Marker stated, “Don’t get me wrong individual achievements are awesome, but the team success is the ultimate goal. Winning a championship is what we all want and that’s what we are going to do this season.”  Ryan also wanted to thank all the Watertown fans, “For their continuous support and hope they continue as we strive for that third championship. Be ready its going to be a fun ride.”

Rochester Jr. Americans Are A Reality

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Fairport, NY · Perinton Youth Hockey’s partnership with the Rochester Americans is official. The area’s largest youth hockey organization received approval from USA Hockey to form the new Rochester Junior Americans youth hockey organization. The partnership with the Rochester Americans was first announced at a press conference held on March 3 at Rochester Ice Center, the home rink for the Rochester Jr. Americans organization.

Next season all players from 8U-18U at the AAA, AA and house levels will wear the same Jr. Amerks uniform displaying the iconic Amerks logo. Players will follow the same development program led by Jr. Amerks Hockey General Manager Francois Methot and the Hockey Development Group.

“We’re forming a community of families and players, and we’re committed to giving every player the opportunity to excel in hockey by providing the best coaching, instruction and competition,” said Robyn MacBride, president, Rochester Jr. Americans. “We want our kids to build a passion for hockey that will last a lifetime.”

Perinton Youth Hockey was established 31 years ago. Players on AA and house teams competed as the Perinton Blades, and AAA teams competed as the Rochester Monarchs. Today the organization will officially retire the Perinton Blades and Rochester Monarchs uniforms.

“We’re retiring the Blades and Monarchs uniforms but will bring the legacy of Perinton Youth Hockey with us as we move forward as the Jr. Amerks,” added MacBride. “We will continue to operate as a not-for-profit organization committed to bringing hockey to kids in Rochester. We will field teams for players at every age and skill level, and we will maintain our commitment to making hockey as affordable as possible. These are the values that have guided our organization for years and will continue to do so for years to come.”

Visit Rochester Jr. Americans at jramerks.com, or on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. https://bit.ly/2Suef2i

As a USA Hockey organization, Rochester Jr. Americans awaits the guidance of local USA Hockey officials regarding the start of the 2020-21 season. More information will be shared as soon as it is received.

Crocker Named To USCHO First Team

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ELMIRA, N.Y. —Emma Crocker ’21 of the nationally-ranked Elmira College women’s ice hockey team added another award to her impressive résumé from the 2019-20 campaign, as the standout forward was named to the All-U.S. College Hockey Online (USCHO) First Team by the digital publication.

A First-Team CCM/AHCA First-Team All-American, the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) Player of the Year, a UCHC All-Tournament Team selection and the Division III statistical champion for game-winning goals, Crocker ranked among the top point-getters in the country with a breakout junior season.

Crocker, the only student-athlete from the UCHC on the All-USCHO First or Second Team, finished with career highs across the board, including a conference-leading 44 points on 21 goals and 23 assists. Her 44 points were 16 higher than her previous career high. She finished third in the nation in points per game (1.57), seventh in goals per game (0.75), and tied for seventh in power-play goals (7).

The Abington, Massachusetts, native logged multi-point performances in 14 of 25 games and scored two or more goals in five games this season. Additionally, her impact on the outcome of games was undeniable, as the Soaring Eagles went 14-1-0 in games in which Crocker found the back of the net.

All-USCHO First Team
F: Amanda Conway, Norwich
F: Emma Crocker, Elmira
F: Abigail Stow, Wisconsin-River Falls
D: Kelly O’Sullivan, Adrian
D: Samantha Benoit, Norwich
G: Erin Connolly, Wisconsin-Eau Claire

All-USCHO Second Team
F: Bre Simon, Hamline
F: Annie Katonka, Plattsburgh
F: Kaleigh Martinson, Wisconsin-Superior
D: Hailey Herdine, Wisconsin-River Falls
D: Michaela Giutarri, Hamilton
G: Denisa Jandová, Adrian

(Elmira College Photo)

First Overall NWHL Selection Signs With Boston

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BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 6: NCAA woman's ice hockey at Walter Brown Arena between the Boston University Terriers and the Boston College Eagles on December 6, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Terriers won 6-0. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/BU Athletics)

BOSTON – Sammy Davis, the first overall selection in the 2020 NWHL Draft on Tuesday, has signed a contract for the 2020-21 season with the Boston Pride. 

“I’m very grateful that the Boston Pride made me the first overall pick in the NWHL Draft, and I’m excited to officially sign with the team to play pro hockey in my favorite city,” said Davis, 23.

An elite-level forward out of Boston University, Davis was a Hockey East First Team All-Star and the MVP of the Beanpot Tournament last season. She led the Terriers in goals (17), assists (24) and points (41) while playing all 36 games. The Pembroke, Mass. native had an even more explosive season as a junior in 2018-19, leading Hockey East in goals with 25 and finishing second in the conference in points with 52. Over her BU career, the 5-4 forward was 66-76-142 in 147 games.

“In Sammy, the Boston Pride are getting a person of character and ability who will embrace the challenge of professional hockey,” said Boston University head coach Brian Durocher. “Our program is extremely proud of Sammy and we’re excited to watch her excel at the next level.”

At the IIHF U-18 World Championship in 2015, Davis was an assistant captain for the U.S. and had two goals and an assist in five games.

Among the many other honors Davis received during her collegiate career, she was named a Hockey East Distinguished Scholar. While playing for Boston NWHL’s team, Davis will pursue a doctorate in occupational therapy at BU.

“As talented and determined as Sammy is on the ice, her selflessness and leadership make her a perfect fit for the team we are building for Boston,” said Pride GM Karilyn Pilch. “There is no doubt in our minds that as she is challenged by her teammates and the competition across the NWHL, Sammy’s game will continue to develop and she will reach even higher levels as a player.”

(NWHL Photo)

17 Statesmen Earn NEHC All-Academic Honors

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Seventeen members of the Hobart College hockey team were named to the 2019-20 New England Hockey Conference All-Academic Team. This is the second straight year and fifth time since 2005 that 17 Statesmen have appeared on a conference’s all-academic team.

To be eligible for all-academic recognition, a student must carry a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average and have completed one full year at his institution.

The following Statesmen earned a spot on the all-academic team:

Denicourt, MacDougall and Sternbach earned all-academic recognition for the third year in a row. Longo, Lynch Robitaille, Schneider, Schultz and Spring garnered NEHC All-Academic honors for the second straight year.

Hobart concluded the season with a 20-5-3 overall record and a 12-4-2 mark in NEHC play. It was the Statesmen’s fifth 20-win season in the last six years. Hobart was ranked sixth in the final USCHO.com poll and PairWise rankings. The Statesmen were awarded an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. It was Hobart’s six straight tournament berth, the longest active streak in Division III.

RIT’s Brubacher Signs AHL Contract

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – RIT senior captain Adam Brubacher (Elmira, Ontario/Powell River Kings) signed a contract with the American Hockey League (AHL) Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the minor league franchise of the NHL’s New York Islanders, announced Thursday.

Brubacher tied for 19th nationally and sixth among defensemen with 24 assists while tying for 10th in Atlantic Hockey with 28 points in his final season with the Tiges. The two-time Atlantic Hockey All-Star finished his career one of only 35 players and only six defenseman in the nation with at least 100 career points while his 80 assists were the 12th-highest total over the last four seasons.

Voted the Atlantic Hockey Defensive Player of the week on three occasions this season, Brubacher became the 13th player in RIT’s Division I era to hit the 100-point plateau, finishing 10th with 106 points. He also didn’t miss a game in four seasons, finishing two shy of a tie for third-place in program history with 148 appearances.

Brubacher totaled a career-high 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists) in 38 games as a junior in 2018-19 after scoring a career-high nine goals in 37 games during his sophomore campaign. He was named Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Year and an All-Rookie Team honoree as a freshman, recording 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) in 2016-17.

Brubacher is set to complete his MBA in four years, finishing his undergraduate coursework last spring with a 4.0 GPA. The six-time Dean’s List recipient earned Beta Gamma Sigma Honors and a Saunders College of Business Merit Scholarship during his time as a Tiger. He recently was named the Ellingson Award winner, recognizing the top scholar-athlete in the RIT athletic department.

Prior to his college career, Brubacher collected 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists) in 58 games with the Prince George Spruce Kings and Powell River Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League. He led all BCHL defensemen in goals (18) in 2015-16. Brubacher attended development camp with the New York Islanders last June.