By Warren Kozireski —
Utica College sophomore Josh Haskin spent most of his freshman season on the third or fourth line and netted three goals with eight points in 24 games. Starting 2018-19 he was a healthy scratch in the Pioneers opener against Adrian and was held point-less in the second.
Since then he has done nothing but produce tied for the team lead in scoring through the first seven games despite not seeing any time on the power play. His eight points in six games played equals his point total from all of last season.
“I was just filling a role last year to put pucks in deep and go and fore-check, but this year I kind of put myself in a bigger role to hopefully get a few more points than I did last year,” Haskin said in early November.
“I’m playing with a great line too with (Eric) Holland and (Regen) Cavanagh, two freshmen but they play like they are juniors or seniors.
“I think the scratch in the first game kind of put me into gear. I came in (to this season) not cocky, but a little confident and then the scratch put me into perspective, so it was kind of a wake-up call and I just put it together.
“To me it’s just a mindset and I went in and asked coach (head coach Gary Heenan) what I could do to be in every night and he said he wanted to see the killer instinct and that I have the skill set but I am kind of passive. That’s really what changed it.”
Then he registered a collegiate career-best four assist game in his next contest.
“We had that talk after the Adrian game and that was the Manhattanville game, just playing with that killer instinct and see red whenever I’m out there and hopefully that helped my game.”
The 5’9”, 185 lb. 22-year old played the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons in junior hockey with the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders in the USPHL Premier league.
Since Columbia High School didn’t have a hockey team, he played for CP Dynamo. And he grew up going regularly to Houston Field House to see the R.P.I. Engineers play, but also Union College in Schenectady when they were making their Frozen Four run for a few years.
“Every Friday night I would be the little kid there at six o’clock waiting for the doors to open and that was really cool,” Haskin commented about his formative years.”
So why Utica? It starts with the Pioneers averaging the most number of fans of any Division III team in the nation.
“When I was younger I always just wanted to play in front of a bunch of fans, so that was huge in my decision but also I’m a Cyber-Security major. I talked with all the professors and it’s a brand-new building and that place is amazing. I love my major and it’s an hour and a half from home.”
“He’s a kid (that was) in and out of the line-up as a freshman, saw the opportunity to make a difference on this team and he’s stepping up,” Heenan summarized about the start to Haskin’s season.
“His minutes are going through the roof; he’s earned his way doing the little things like cutbacks making room for himself, battles, he’s our leading faceoff guy so we need him out there on key draws, penalty kill.
“We weren’t leaning towards him at the start of the year and he’s earned his way. He has handled the situation right. How many guys do you see scratched the first game that pack it in?”