By Warren Kozireski —
University of Massachusetts senior defenseman Aaron Bohlinger is not known for scoring a lot of goals, but he makes them count in big moments. The Walden native waited to net his first collegiate goal until the 29th game of the season his freshman year—in the national championship game against St. Cloud State to help give the Minutemen their first hockey national title.
He made quite the first impression earlier that season registering a pair of assists in his collegiate debut against UConn and being named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week.
This year, the 23-year-old co-captain through the first 17 games has just two markers, but one came against then sixth-ranked Michigan for the nationally ranked Minutemen.
“Sometimes; I try to be in the right spot at the right time and I play with a lot of really, really good players so I don’t have to do much, they tend to find me so I’m grateful for that,” Bohlinger said. “They make my job easier and I’m super-grateful to have those memories, moments and experiences.”
Bohlinger split the 2015-16 season with Don Bosco Prep (in Ramsey, NJ), the Connecticut Jr. Wolf Pack and New Jersey Hitmen 16U before leaving home at 15 years old to head to Omaha, Nebraska where he was a point per game player with the Lancers in the NAPHL.
“I played Omaha triple A for a guy named Dave Wilkie for my second year of 16’s and my first year 18’s and then to the BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League with Alberni) and then to the USHL (with Waterloo).
“I wanted to play in the BC; I really didn’t have a chance in the USHL that year, so I knew I wanted to play juniors and thought I was ready for it. They gave me a chance up in Alberni; coach Matt Hughes up there did a lot for me and was really, really good for me and I loved it up there. Great billet family and it was a good first year of juniors and took me to where I am now so I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Ramsey is about 45 minutes from home and his team in Connecticut the same in the other direction.
“It was a good experience just different things and those are days I learned a lot, a lot of time management lessons and things like that.”
The finance major has another year of eligibility if he chooses to use it but is keeping that decision close to the vest for now.
“I’m trying to just take it day by day. I’m really enjoying where we’re at right now…we have a lot of potential and I have a good feeling about where we’re headed, so sometimes you have to learn lessons the hard way and I think this weekend (two close losses in the Adirondack Invitational in Lake Placid) just did that for us.
“I don’t know where life is going to take me next year, ten years or whatever it is down the road, but I will say I love UMass. I love playing here, I love the staff, I love the guys here so the longer I can play here the happier I’ll be. I just take it day by day and see how it goes. I’ve had some injuries and stuff, but I’m doing well with a lot of help and staff members helping out there and we’ll see how it goes.”
“Figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life after hockey is done, whenever that may be, is a little daunting but I’m sure it will come because it always works out the way it should. Just gotta have faith and see where it goes.”
(Photos Provided by University of Mass. Men’s Hockey Program)