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High End Hockey and TSR Hockey Team Up To Present 5000 Shot Challenge

Saturday, July 25, 2015, 6:51PM

Quick, name three of the hardest shooters in the NHL. No doubt, you mentioned Boston Bruin Zdeno Chara, Nashville Predator Shea Weber, and/or Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin.

Known to possess the hardest shots in the league, all three have certainly raised the pulse of a goaltender, or two, when the puck is about to be released off their sticks.  And when one of those shots elludes a netminder, you can hear people ask, “How does a player shoot a puck that hard?”

Like any other hockey skill, shooting a puck with velocity and accuracy is not something someone is born to do. It takes practice. A lot of proper practice.

And that is where High End Hockey and TSR Hockey come in.

High End Hockey is headquartered at the Breakaway Ice Center in Tewksbury, Massachusetts and trains players from mites to NHL players with the sole goal of giving them the tools to improve their games.

TSR Hockey has been the premier hockey retailer in New England since 2000 and has locations in New Hampshire (Salem, Concord, Hooksett) and Massachusetts (Haverhill, Lawrence, North Andover).

Since players who participate in High End Hockey’s programs have also been customers of TSR Hockey, it made sense to HEH owner Jon Hutcheon, and TSR owner Brendan Sheehy, to team up and present a program that would help hockey players improve their puck shooting skills.

“This is our third year of the 5000 Shot Challenge, a summer program where a player has 12 weeks to shoot 5000 pucks,” explained TSR Hockey’s Marketing Manager, Julie Dalton, who not only works in hockey but also plays on a women’s team named, The Ms. Conducts. “It’s (5000 Shot Challenge) sponsored by Bauer. Years ago, Brendan Sheehy’s father worked at Bauer so they (Bauer) donate whatever their newest stick is and we do prizes throughout the course of the event. We have ‘Sniper of the Week’ where a participant is awarded a $15.00 gift card to TSR and a 30-minute shooting lesson at High End Hockey and even if you’re not chosen for Sniper of the Week, you still get a t-shirt for participating.”

“The goal is to keep kids shooting all summer to get them stronger and more accurate shots. There’s no cost to join and the benefit to TSR is creating a community event for kids to join and stay active and it brings people back in to turn in their sheets, which charts their progress. One of our goals at TSR is to be like the old TV show, Cheers, where everybody knows your name. We’re a community store and very much like a family.”

The history between High End Hockey, TSR, and Dalton herself, go back a few years which made it the proverbial, no brainer, that HEH and TSR work together on the venture this summer.

“Over the last couple of years, Jon (Hutcheon) has coached my sons, my daughter, and myself, on the ice and in shooting lessons, so it was through that relationship that everyone agreed that HEH should be involved in the Challenge,” Dalton said.

“He’s (Hutcheon) enthusiastic and provides us with weekly shooting videos. He makes it fun because he works with players of all ages, youth to adults. He makes the Challenge relatable. His videos show how to execute the different shots and also shows college and pro players, who train with him, properly shooting pucks. As an added bonus, if a Sniper of the Week doesn’t live within the area, he films a video, specifically, for that player, so for all of those reasons, it’s a win/win situation for all involved.”

As the owner of High End Hockey, Hutcheon is very happy to have HEH engaged in the 5000 Shot Challenge but, more importantly, as a coach, he believes in the program.

“We became involved this year and really like being able to teach the techniques of shooting to players of all ages,” said Hutcheon, who coached the 2013 18-Under Neponset Valley River Rats to the USA Hockey Tier I national championship. “We have a large synthetic shooting area at Breakaway Ice Center, where we conduct our lessons and since kids love to shoot pucks, they really enjoy learning the techniques that will give them more accurate and harder shots, which should result in their scoring more goals when the season begins.”

Hutcheon is also excited about the popularity of the videos.

“The Video of the Week gets posted to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook each week and we’ve received great feedback from players and parents,” Hutcheon continued. “They’ve been fun to film and the players, who participate in them like Maury Edwards (UMass Lowell/Straubing, German Elite League), Pat Mullane (Boston College/Assat, Finland SM Liga), Joe Whitney (Boston College/New York Islanders), and Brian Dumoulin (Boston College/Pittsburgh Penguins), among others, have been great and we really appreciate their cooperation.”

Hutcheon revealed there is more to come.

“After the 5000 Shot Challenge is completed, we’re planning on continuing with the videos and expanding them to include instruction in hockey’s other skills such as skating, puck handling, passing and many more aspects of the game.”

It is clear that the HEH/TSR Hockey 5000 Shot Challenge is, not only demanding, but educational and fun.

What better way to learn about shooting a puck than from a national championship winning coach and professional players on your computer screen, then going out and applying what you have just learned. Not to mention, the prizes you can win for participating.

If you have not started the Challenge, it is not too late to start, just go to tsrhockey.com and click on 5000 Shot Challenge and do not forget to watch the videos on HighEndHockey.com or by following on Twitter at @HighEndHockey.

Ok, so, who will be hockey’s next hardest shooter?

 

HEH's Schaller Scores 1st NHL Goal!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 11:35PM
(Photo courtesy of Steve Babineau/NHL via Getty Images)

HEH Summer Pro Camper Schaller Scores First NHL Goal

By Shawn Hutcheon

As hockey fans filed into Boston’s TD Garden on the night of December 21, 2014 they spoke about their anticipation of that evening’s game between the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres.

Due to slow starts to their seasons, each team was struggling to find their games and identities.

The Sabres lineup was riddled with injuries and illness and had more than one player on its roster on recall from the Rochester Americans, Buffalo’s American Hockey League affiliate.

Usually, young players who are called up to the NHL, receive between four to eight minutes of playing time and do all they can to impress the coaching staff. After all, it is every player’s dream to play in the NHL and once he gets there he does not want to go back to the minors.

Such was the case for center Tim Schaller.

On this night, the 24-year-old native of Merrimack, New Hampshire found himself lining up across from Bruins veteran and Stanley Cup champion, Patrice Bergeron, in the face off circle in just his third NHL game.

Schaller played a strong game, keeping it simple within the Sabres defense first system preached by coach Ted Nolan and after two periods the clubs had skated to a 2-2 tie.

Schaller came out for the third period not knowing how the period would play out but it did not take long for the big (6-foot-2) Sabre forward to make an impact.

The puck was in Buffalo’s zone when linemate Brian Flynn took control of it on the half wall. He chipped the disc up to winger Nicolas Deslauriers, who carried it along the right wing boards into the Boston zone. Deslauriers sent the puck into the corner and out-raced Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg to regain control of it. He, then, chipped the puck behind the Boston net, where Schaller had positioned himself in front of Seidenberg’s partner, Dougie Hamilton. Schaller skated into the pass and in one quick movement, beat Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask with a wraparound to put the Sabres ahead on the scoreboard 3-2 at the 1:27 mark of the period.

It was Schaller’s first National Hockey League goal and point.

The Bruins would score later in the period and win in overtime by a 4-3 score. However, after the contest, the topic in the Sabres dressing room was Schaller’s goal.  

Well, something I strive to do every shift is get the pucks to the net,” Schaller said when asked to describe the play that resulted in his lamplighter. “Deslauriers made a nice play around the net there and you know, I got the puck to the crease and under his feet and it slid in.”

The New Englander admitted he was so elated that he was not sure how to celebrate.

“No, I didn’t even know how to celebrate,” said Schaller. “I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug so I guess that’s all I needed.”

Of course, all good hockey families travel together from the time of that very first learn to skate session all the way to an NHL arena and the Schaller family made the trek down from New Hampshire to TD Garden.

“Yup, that was them,”  Schaller said as he held the puck that slid past Rask. “Mom, dad, brother…I’m not even an hour away from home so I probably have 20-30 people in the stands tonight. I’m excited to get the puck to them (his parents). That will be good for them.”

Schaller was not shy to reveal that scoring his first goal in Boston was one to remember.

“Yup, grew up coming to this building as a kid so this was pretty special,” he said.

Schaller also played in TD Garden as a member of the Providence College Friars.

“Twice and lost both times. Thanks for reminding me.” Schaller joked.

Before heading out to meet up with his parents and entourage, I asked Schaller what advice he would give to youngsters who dream of playing in the NHL.

“It starts in practice,” he answered. “If you don’t work hard in practice, you aren’t going to get anywhere. If you work hard in practice, good things will come in the games so it all begins in practice.”

If it is true that practice makes perfect, then the night Tim Schaller scored his first NHL goal in front of his parents in Boston could not have been more perfect.

 

HEHJ Junior Power Rankings

Sunday, December 14, 2014, 11:11AM

HEH Journal New England Junior Hockey Power Rankings and Game of Week 12/10/14



Junior Games of the Week:

 

This weekend, the United States Premier Hockey League is serving up a two game series between the first place Jersey Hitmen and the Bay State Breakers at The Bog Ice Arena in Kingston, Massachusetts.  The clubs have met twice this season with the Hitmen victorious in each encounter. Game time on Saturday is 5:25 pm. Sunday the teams will square off at 12:25 pm.

 

The Eastern Hockey League will see the Boston Bandits travel to Walpole to take on the Express on Sunday December 14th at 12:40 pm. The winner takes over sole possession of first place in the Boston Division. This will be the second meeting of the season between the squads. Walpole defeated Boston 7-6 in their previous meeting.



New England Junior Hockey Power Rankings:

 

  1. Boston Jr. Bruins (19-5-0-2) - Boston has won seven of its last ten games and is in third place in the USPHL. Ryan Cloonan leads his team in scoring with 37 points in 26 games. He is eighth in league scoring.

 

  1. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (18-3-0-2) - NHJM is 6-4-0 in their last ten contests. They continue to lead the EHL’s North Division. Luke Babcock is setting the pace in point production. He has 35 points in 22 games and is third in EHL scoring.

 

  1. Northern Cyclones (16-3-2-1) - With one loss in their last 12 games, Northern has moved within three points of the Jr. Monarchs in the EHL’s North Division. Sean Brown is twelfth in among the league’s top point producers with 29 points in 22 tilts.  

 

  1. Connecticut Oilers (17-8-1-1) - Despite going 5-5-0 in its last 10 contests, the Oil resides in second place in the Central Division of the EHL. They trail first place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton by six points. Offensively, the Oilers are being led by Lucas Bombardier’s 29 points on the season. He is thirteenth in league scoring.

 

  1. Bay State Breakers (16-12-0-1) - Winning eight of their last ten tilts has allowed the Breakers to move into fourth place in the USPHL. Jackson Barliant is pacing Bay State with 23 points, which ranks him 33rd among the league’s leading scorers.

 

  1. Islanders Hockey Club (14-10-0-4) - IHC’s season has been about streaks. It has endured two four game losing skeins and a six game win streak up to this point. They are presently on a three game winning streak and are holding on to fifth place in the USPHL. They trail Bay State by one point. The club’s top point producer, Brendan Robbins, is 22rd in league scoring with 23 points.

 

  1. South Shore Kings (14-14-0-1) - Occupying seventh place in the USPHL is rather foreign to the Kings, a team that is deep in talent, however, this squad has lost 12 of its last 16 games. SSK is being paced on the stats sheet by Tommy Besinger, who is 43rd among the circuit’s scorers.

 

  1. Walpole Express (14-7-3-0) - The Express are 5-5-0 in their last ten contests but have managed to hold on to a share of first place in the EHL’s Boston Division with the Boston Bandits. Piling up the points has not been difficult for veteran Frankie Cefalu, he is fifth in league scoring with 32 points in 24 games.

 

  1. Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (15-8-0-1) - The season began a bit slowly for Hartford as they sat in last place in the EHL’s Central Division. Winning seven of their last ten tilts has enabled the ‘Pack to continue rising through the standings and currently reside in third place. Leading the way for the Wolfpack is Ben Mariano, who is tenth in league scoring with 30 points.

 

  1. Boston Bandits (13-7-2-3) - Although the Bandits have dropped six of their last ten games, they have kept pace with Walpole in the EHL’s Boston Division. Brandon Seal’s 22 points leads the club and is 30th in the league.

 

  1. Boston Jr. Rangers (12-12-1-1) - Sitting in third place in the Boston Division of the EHL, BJR is five points in arrears of the Bandits and the Express. The Rangers have been victorious in six of their last ten contests. They are being paced by Davis Algra and Brett Macrones, who have 20 points each and are tied for 43rd among EHL scorers.

 

  1. Portland Pirates (10-18-0-4) - The Pirates just can’t seem to climb above ninth place in the USPHL this season, however, they trail the eighth place PAL Jr. Islanders by just two points. Brady Fleurant is having a fine season. His 35 points place him tenth in league scoring.

 

  1. East Coast Wizards (11-12-1-1) - The Wizards began the season is a very slow manner but have worked their magic to pick up recent victories over the Jr. Rangers, Bandits, and Express to keep pace in the EHL’s Boston Division. ECW is fourth in the division, trailing the Jr. Rangers by only two points. CJ Grinnell’s 19 points leads the club and is 49th among EHL scorers.

 

  1. Connecticut Jr. Rangers (7-18-0-4) - It has been a long season for Connecticut but the USPHL expansion team has pulled out some big wins. They are in tenth place in the circuit and have won four of their last ten tilts. Ryan Harper leads the squad in scoring. He has posted 30 points and is 17th in league scoring.

 

  1. Springfield Jr. Pics (6-17-0-2) - Another team that is struggling through its first year in the USPHL. The Pics are in eleventh place and have been on the wrong side of the ledger in eight of their last ten games. Santino Regone is the top point producer on the club with fifteen. He is 63rd among the league’s point producers.

 

  1. Vermont Lumberjacks (8-13-2-1) - The EHL added Vermont this season and it is right about where people thought they would be. In their last ten tilts, the Lumberjacks produced three wins as they continue to sit in third place in the North Division. Tucker Cobb’s 18 points are tops in the team and 55th in the circuit.

 

  1. Valley Jr. Warriors (9-16-0-0) - Unfortunately for the Warriors, they just have not found their game yet and sit in last place in the EHL’s Boston Division. They have registered three wins in their last ten tilts. The club is led in scoring by Brendan Heinze’s 15 points. He is 78th among EHL scorers.

 

  1. New England Wolves (4-18-0-1) - As new members of the EHL this season, the Wolves have struggled mightily. They have lost eight of their last ten contests and are in last place in the North Division, trailing Vermont by ten points. Jarrod Fitzpatrick paces the Wolves in the point department with 13 points. He is 105th among the circuits point producers.

 

HEHJ Junior Power Rankings

Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 11:21AM

HEH Journal New England Junior Hockey Power Rankings and Games of the Week Preview 11/5/2014

 

Games of the Week:

In the United States Premier Hockey League, the GOW will take place between the second place Philadelphia Flyers and the third place Boston Jr. Bruins. The teams will meet in the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase on November 8th at Merrimack College. The rivalry between these two squads always brings out the best in both teams. They have met three times this season with the Flyers winning twice.

 

In the Eastern Hockey League, the first place overall Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and the second place overall New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs will face off on November 9th in Hooksett, New Hampshire at 10:00 am ET. This will be the first meeting of the year between the two clubs.

 

New England Junior Hockey Power Rankings:

  1. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (13-1-0-0) - With two wins last week, NHJM is beginning to look like a juggernaut. They have reeled off thirteen consecutive wins and remain atop of the EHL’s North Division.

  1. Boston Jr. Bruins (12-3-0-1) - A win over the Bay State Breakers kept BJB just three points behind second place Philadelphia and two points ahead of Rochester in the USPHL.

  1. South Shore Kings (11-6-0-0) - The Kings went 1-1-0 over the weekend but it did not hurt their ranking due to teams that were ranked below them not having the best of weekends either. South Shore is in fifth place in the USPHL but is holding on to a slim one point lead over the Islanders Hockey Club.

  1. Islanders Hockey Club (9-6-0-3) - Losses to the New Jersey Hitmen and the Portland Jr. Pirates negated any chance of IHC jumping over South Shore in the USPHL standings and in our poll.

  1. Connecticut Oilers (12-5-0-0) - The Oilers have won eight consecutive contests to climb into second place in the EHL’s Central Division.

  1. Walpole Express (10-3-2-0) - Last week, the Express faced off against the New Jersey Titans and Philadelphia Little Flyers in EHL action and came away with a win and a loss. Walpole occupies first place in the Boston Division.  

  1. Boston Bandits (9-3-0-2) - The Bandits kept pace with Walpole in the EHL’s Boston Division by picking up two wins last week. Boston has won four consecutive contests.

  1. Northern Cyclones (9-3-0-2) - Like their EHL rival Boston Bandits, the Cyclones have reeled off four straight victories to close the gap between themselves and the Jr. Monarchs to six points in the race for the top spot in the North Division.

  1. Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (8-6-0-1) - Winning two of their last three games has resulted in the Wolfpack moving within three points of the EHL Central Division rival New York Bobcats in the battle for third place.

  1. Bay State Breakers (9-11-0-1) - Winning four of their last fourteen games has seen BSB lose ground to most of their competitors in the USPHL. The Breakers are in seventh place in the circuit.

  1. Boston Jr. Rangers (8-7-0-1) - The Jr. Rangers slid two spots in our poll thanks to go going 1-1-0 last week with the loss coming to the Bandits. BJR sits in third place in the EHL’s Boston Division.

  1. East Coast Wizards (6-9-1-1) - A loss to the Cyclones and a win over the Valley Jr. Warriors has kept the Wizards in fourth place in the Boston Division of the EHL, where they trail the Jr. Rangers by three points.

  1. Portland Jr. Pirates (6-12-0-3) - Winning three of their last five matches has afforded the Pirates to move into ninth place in the USPHL.

  1. Connecticut Jr. Rangers (5-11-0-4) - A shootout loss to the South Shore Kings followed by a regulation win over the same South Shore team last week gave CJR three of a possible four points. The Jr. Rangers are in tenth place in the USPHL.

  1. Springfield Jr. Pics (5-10-0-2) - A split of a two game series with Portland last weekend was not quite enough to move the Jr. Pics out of last place in the USPHL.

  1. Valley Jr. Warriors (6-10-0-0) - The Warriors have dropped six consecutive games and remain in last place in the EHL’s Boston Division.

  1. Vermont Lumberjacks (5-12-0-0) - Vermont has lost four straight contests and are in third place in the North Division of the EHL. The Lumberjacks trail second place Northern by ten points.

  1. New England Wolves (3-10-0-1) - The Wolves have lost five consecutive games and reside in fourth place in the EHL’s North Division.



 

HEHJ Junior Power Rankings

Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 2:36PM

HEH Journal’s New England Junior Hockey Game of the Week Preview and Power Rankings 10/28/14

Game of the Week:

The game expected to draw the most attention in the Eastern Hockey League has the Walpole Express, the first place squad in the Boston Division traveling to Philadelphia to face off against the South Division leading Little Flyers on Sunday November 2nd at 2:00 pm. This will be the first meeting between the two EHL powers.

 

New England Junior Hockey Power Rankings:

  1. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (11-1-0-0) - The schedulers gave New Hampshire the weekend off and it did not hurt them as they remain at the top of the EHL’s North Division. This is the first time this season where a number one ranked team held on to its perch for two consecutive weeks. Luke Babcock (Hampton Falls, NH) has six goals and fifteen assists for a total of twenty-one points which leads the team in scoring and is sixth in the league in that category.

 

  1. Boston Jr. Bruins (11-3-0-1) - Two wins and a loss over the weekend, saw BJB rise to third place in the USPHL. Ryan Cloonan (East Longmeadow, MA) leads the club in scoring with three goals and twenty assists totaling twenty-three points.

 

  1. South Shore Kings (10-5-0-0) - Going 1-2-0 last week stalled South Shore’s drive toward first place in the USPHL and dropped them into a fifth place tie with the Islanders Hockey Club. Forward Owen Campbell (Foxboro, MA) is the team’s king of points with seven goals and five assists in fifteen games.  

 

  1. Islanders Hockey Club (9-6-0-2) - A win and a loss maintained the status quo for the Islanders in our rankings. The team’s leading scorer is Brendan Van Riemsdyk (Middletown, NJ), whose eighteen points on fourteen goals and four assists has the forward in seventeenth place among league scorers.

 

  1. Walpole Express (9-2-2-0) - The first place team in the Boston Division of the EHL went 1-1-0 last week and maintained their ranking as our fifth best team in New England. Nick Balboa (San Mateo, CA) is seventh in league scoring with eight goals and twelve assists totaling twenty points.

 

  1. Connecticut Oilers (9-5-0-0) - The Oilers won both of their games over the weekend but needed a shootout on Saturday before defeating the Philadelphia Little Flyers. CT occupies second place in the EHL’s Central Division and are led in scoring by Joe Pizzimenti’s (Washington, MI) seven goals, five assists and twelve points.

 

  1. Boston Bandits (7-3-0-2) - Going undefeated in both of their games last week saw the Bandits keep pace with Walpole in the EHL’s Boston Division. Boston trails their Massachusetts rival by four points. Newport Beach, California native Brandon Seal leads the Bandits with eleven points on four goals and seven assists in twelve games.

 

  1. Northern Cyclones (7-3-2-0) - A 2-1-0 week resulted in Northern moving up in our poll. They gained four points on the idle New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs in the EHL’s North Division. The Cyclones are being paced in scoring by Sean Brown’s (Amherst, NY) fifteen points. He has scored eight goals and seven assists in twelve contests.

 

  1. Boston Jr. Rangers (7-7-0-0) - A 2-1-0 week sees BJR move up four spots in our poll. They are in third place in the tightly contested Boston Division of the EHL, two points behind the Boston Bandits and two points ahead of the Valley Jr. Warriors. Defenseman Thomas Evans (Waterford, MI) leads the Rangers in scoring with twelve points on two goals and ten assists.

 

  1. Bay State Breakers (8-10-0-0) - With three victories in their last eleven tilts, wins have been few and far between for Bay State. The Breakers are in eighth place in the USPHL. They are led in scoring by Brad Pizzey (Clarkson, MI), who has eight lamplighters and six assists totaling fourteen points.

 

  1. Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (6-5-0-1) - The ‘Pack picked up a win last week but they also lost to EHL Central Division rival Connecticut Oilers and remain in fourth place in the division. Captain Ben Mariano (Harrisburg, PA) is doing it all as he leads the his club in scoring with seven goals and fourteen assists for a total of twenty-one points.

 

  1. Valley Jr. Warriors (6-7-0-0) - Not the best of weeks for the Jr. Warriors as they went 0-3-0 and fell four places in our rankings. Playing in the competitive Boston Division of the EHL means Valley will need to bring its “A” game this coming weekend in order to keep pace with the Boston Jr. Rangers. Van Sullivan’s (Brentwood, TN) seven goals and two assists resulting in nine points leads the Warriors in scoring.

 

  1. East Coast Wizards (5-9-1-0) - A 2-1-0 week enabled ECW to remain in close pursuit of their EHL’s Boston Division rival, Valley Jr. Warriors, who the Wizards trail by one point. Glen Wiswell (Berwick, ME) has been the top point producer with seven goals and three assists for ten points.

 

  1. Portland Jr. Pirates (4-11-0-3) - A win over the Connecticut Jr. Rangers saw Portland break a seven game losing streak. The club from Maine occupies ninth place in the USPHL and are led in scoring by Tommy Daniels’ (St. Louis, MO) eight goals and eight assists totaling sixteen points.

 

  1. Connecticut Jr. Rangers (4-11-0-3) - CTJR has lost three consecutive contests and are in tenth place in the USPHL. Ryan Harper’s (New Canaan, CT) twenty-three points on nine goals and fourteen assists pace his squad in scoring.

 

  1. Springfield Jr. Pics (4-9-0-2) - Losers of all three of their contests last week, the Pics have dropped nine of their last eleven games and have fallen into last place in the USPHL. Sam Levin (Simsbury, CT) has scored five goals and four assists to lead his club in scoring.

 

  1. Vermont Lumberjacks (5-10-0-0) - This EHL expansion club has won three of its last five tilts and look  ready to gain ground on its North Division rivals. Tucker Cobb (South Burlington, VT) is leading the way in team scoring with four goals and nine assists totaling thirteen points.

 

  1. New England Wolves (3-8-0-1) - Another team that is in its first year in the EHL, the Wolves have struggled thus far and are in last place in the North Division. Mike Kelleher (Tewksbury, MA) has netted six goals and has assisted on four others to give him a team leading ten points.   




 

Junior Hockey Games of the Week and Power Rankings

Thursday, October 23, 2014, 8:27PM

Hockey Loses One of its Own

Although this is a page that focuses on junior hockey, we would like to take a moment to express our sadness and deepest sympathies to the family, friends and teammates of Joe Robichaud, who tragically passed away recently in an auto accident in his home province of Quebec, Canada.

Joe was a student/athlete at Connecticut’s Pomfret School and also a member of the Neponset Valley River Rats 18-Under Premier hockey team. He was popular with all of those who had the privilege of knowing him and will be missed by the entire hockey community on both sides of the border.

Games of the Week:

In the USPHL, the contest all eyes will focus on will take place at Merrimack College’s Gallant Arena on Sunday, October 26th at 9:00 am. This game will feature the second place Philadelphia Flyers versus third place Boston Jr. Bruins. Three points separate the clubs that split a two game series last week in Philadelphia.

In the Eastern Hockey League, the match up between the Valley Jr. Warriors and the Northern Cyclones will be a battle clubs that are tied in the league’s overall standings with 12 points each. This will be the first meeting of the season between the two squad’s and it takes place on Saturday, October 25th at 5:30 pm at Cyclones Arena in Hudson, New Hampshire.

New England Junior Hockey Power Rankings:

  1. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (11-1-0-0) - The Monarchs continue to be the Eastern Hockey League’s top team thanks to an 11 game win streak. Goaltender Cole Burak is a big reason why the Monarchs have risen to our poll’s top spot. The Texas native leads all Eastern Hockey League puck stoppers with a 5-0-0-0 record. He has registered two shutouts to go along with a .959 save percentage and a league leading 1.22 goals against average.

  1. South Shore Kings (9-3-0-0) - The Kings rebounded nicely last week to defeat USPHL rivals Springfield and Bay State. Goaltenders Craig Pantano (5-0-0-0) and Shane Starrett (4-3-0) have made the big saves when called upon this season.

  1. Boston Jr. Bruins (9-3-0-0) - The Jr. Bs visited the City of Brotherly Love for the weekend and returned home with a series split (winning one and losing one) versus the Philadelphia Flyers in USPHL action. Daniel Tirone is getting the bulk of the playing time in the crease for Boston and has a 6-2-0-0 record to accompany a .936 save percentage and 2.16 goals against average.    

  1. Islanders Hockey Club (8-5-0-2) - Last week’s number one team in our rankings lost both USPHL games to league leading Jersey last week. With a 6-2-0-0 record, Anthony Tirabassi is emerging as the number one netminder. The native of Niagara Falls, NY carries a 2.48 goals against average and a save percentage of .921.

  1. Walpole Express (8-1-2-0) - The Express went 1-1-0 last weekend and remains in first place in the EHL’s Boston Division. Goaltender Connor Rodericks is second in the league with a 1.30 goals against average. A native of Franklin, MA, he also boasts a 4-0-0-0 record and a stellar .964 save percentage.

  1. Connecticut Oilers (7-5-0-0) - Winning four of their last five contests have allowed the Oilers to climb within two points of the second place New York Bobcats in the EHL’s Central Division. Chris Bastone has handled the majority of minutes between the pipes. A native of Greenwich, CT, Bastone is 4-3-0-0 with a goals against average of 2.65 and a save percentage of .910.

  1. Boston Bandits (6-3-0-2) - A weekend that saw the Bandits lose both of its games was forgotten with a victory over the Northern Cyclones Wednesday. They sit in second place in the EHL’s Boston Division. Billy Palmer, who hails from Cranston, RI has been the main man in the crease and he has responded by posting a 3-2-0-2 record accompanied by a 1.91 goals average and a .934 save percentage.

  1. Valley Jr. Warriors (6-5-0-0) - A four game win streak propelled the Jr. Warriors into third place in the Boston Division of the EHL. Colin Soucy, of the North Andover, MA Soucys, has handled most of the workload in the crease and has a 4-2-0-0 record, 2.58 goals against average, and .916 save percentage.

  1. Northern Cyclones (5-3-2-0) - Losers of three consecutive contests, the Cyclones have fallen 10 points behind first place New Hampshire in the EHL’s North Division. In eight games, netminder Alex Gross, who is from Forth Worth, TX, is 2-0-1-0 on the season and has a 3.08 goals against average and a .880 save percentage.

  1. Bay State Breakers (7-8-0-0) - BSB has dropped six of their last eight contests and occupy seventh place in the USPHL. Goaltender Jake Bryniarski, a native of Rochester, NY, has won seven of thirteen games played this season. He carries a save percentage of .921 and a goals against average of 3.82  

  1. Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (5-4-0-1) - The fourth place team in the Central Division of the EHL, went 1-1-0 last weekend. Puckstopper Tyler Ellor, who comes to the Wolfpack from Saratoga Springs, NY, has compiled a 3-2-0-1 record, a 2.71 goals against average, and a .920 save percentage.

  1. Connecticut Jr. Rangers (4-9-0-2) - Two wins last week, resulted in CJR moving out of last place in the USPHL and climbing two spots to ninth place. Jake Thoubboron, out of Glen Rock, NJ, has picked up four wins against seven losses while protecting the twine. He also owns a 3.56 goals against average and a .904 save percentage.

  1. Boston Jr. Rangers (5-6-0-0) - BJR dropped its only game on the schedule last week and fell into fourth place in the EHL’s Boston Division. University of New Hampshire recruit, Mike Robinson, has been between the pipes for five games, his record is 3-2-0. His goals against average is 2.69 and his save percentage is .921.

  1. Springfield Jr. Pics (4-7-0-1) - Coming up on the wrong end of the ledger in two games last week, saw the Pics drop from eighth place to tenth place in the USPHL. In the crease, the puck stopping duties have been split between Jake Moore and Mike Dion. They have combined for a goals against average of 3.71 and a save percentage of .895.

  1. East Coast Wizards (4-8-1-0) - A 2-1-0 week has seen the Wizards move to within one point of the Boston Jr. Rangers in the EHL’s Boston Division. Woburn, MA native Connor Maloney has seen the majority of action in the crease for the Wizards. He has compiled a 2-3-1 record accompanied by a 3.72 goals against average and an .896 save percentage.

  1. Vermont Lumberjacks (4-8-0-0) - Winners of four of their last five contests, which includes a three game win streak, has seen Vermont move to within four points of the Northern Cyclones in the EHL’s North Division. Anthony Giordano, who hails from Ellington, CT, has a four wins against six losses. He also possesses a 3.51 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

  1. New England Wolves (3-6-0-0) - Winning two of their last five games is a step in the right direction. The Wolves trail Vermont by two points in the EHL’s North Division standings. Canadian natives Eric Bogart and Simon Jasmin have combined for a 3.60 goals against average and an .868 save percentage.  

  1. Portland Jr. Pirates (3-10-0-2) - The Jr. Pirates have lost 10 of their last 11 games and reside in last place in the USPHL. Teddy Loughborough, a native of Wellesley, MA, has seen the most time in the crease. His record is 1-8-0 and he carries a goals against average of 5.10 and a save percentage of .894.

 

HEHJ Junior Power Rankings

Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 12:02PM

Games of the Week:

In the United States Premier Hockey League, all eyes will be focused on two games this week when the first place Jersey Hitmen travel to North Andover, Massachusetts for a weekend series with the third place Islanders Hockey Club.

First place will be on the line in this early season showdown between two of the league’s elite teams. Game one of the series will be on Saturday at 3:30 pm with the second game taking place on Sunday at 1:00 pm.

The Eastern Hockey League will feature the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs visiting the Northern Cyclones on Sunday in Hudson, New Hampshire. The hockey is always fast and furious when these two New Hampshire rivals meet. Opening faceoff is scheduled for 10:00 am.

HEH Journal Junior Hockey Power Rankings:   

  1. Islanders Hockey Club (8-4-0-1) - Three wins and one lost last week were all were all that was needed for the Islanders to jump from sixth place in the USPHL to third place. They trail the circuit’s first place Jersey Hitmen by just three points.

  1. Boston Jr. Bruins (8-2-0-0) - A 2-1-0 week is a good week in any league but in the USPHL, it was not good enough for the Jr. Bruins to hold on to third place in the circuit as they sunk to fifth place but are only one point in arrears of the Islanders Hockey Club.

  1. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (9-1-0-0) - A nine game winning streak has NHJM in first place overall in the Eastern Hockey League. They have not lost since opening night of the season and are getting stronger with each outing.

  1. South Shore Kings (7-3-0-0) - The weekend was a mixed bag for the Kings. They defeated the Connecticut Jr. Rangers but fell to the Philadelphia Flyers and are in sixth place in the tightly grouped USPHL.

  1. Walpole Express (7-0-2-0) - A 3-0-0 weekend, including a win over Central Division leader New York Bobcats, saw the Express open a five point lead over the Boston Bandits in the EHL’s Boston Division.

  1. Northern Cyclones (5-1-1-0) - As predicted two weeks ago, Northern has risen through our rankings in quick fashion. A 3-0-0 weekend saw the second place club in the EHL’s North Division increase their lead over the Vermont Lumberjacks by five points.

  1. Boston Bandits (5-3-0-1) - The weekend did not go well for Boston. They won just once in three tries but still hold a slim one point lead over the Boston Jr. Rangers in the Boston Division of the EHL.

  1. Connecticut Oilers (5-5-0-0) - Two victories in three contests, allowed the Oilers to rise from fifth place in the EHL’s Central Division to third place. They trail second place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton by six points.

  1. Bay State Breakers (6-6-0-0) - The Breakers are falling through our rankings almost as fast as Northern is rising and that is not good for BSB. Bay State has lost three consecutive tilts and currently reside in seventh place in the USPHL.

  1. Boston Jr. Rangers (5-5-0-0) - For the first time this season, the Jr. Rangers make an appearance in our top ten and do so by winning two games over the weekend. They also lost one but were able to move up from thirteenth in our poll. The Rangers are in third place in the EHL’s Boston Division.

  1. Springfield Pics (4-5-0-1) - The Pics lost to Philadelphia but rebounded with a win over Rochester Jr. Americans last week. They occupy eighth place in the USPHL. Springfield has won two of its last three games and may be on the rise.

  1. Valley Jr. Warriors (4-4-0-0) - Gaining two of a possible three wins over the weekend is the reason for  Valley’s rise from fifth place in the EHL’s Boston Division to fourth place.

  1. Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (4-4-0-1) - After losing three consecutive tilts, Hartford has won three of its last four. The ‘Pack is beginning to overcome early season losing streaks but currently occupy fifth and last place in the EHL’s Central Division.

  1. Portland Jr. Pirates (3-9-0-1) - A four game losing streak has seen Portland unable to gain ground in the USPHL standings and sit in tenth place.

  1. Connecticut Jr. Rangers (2-9-0-2) - A six game losing skein has resulted in CTJR finding itself in last place in the USPHL, however, five of those losses have been by two goals or fewer.

  1. East Coast Wizards (3-7-0-0) - An 0-3-0 weekend saw the Wizards drop from third place in the EHL’s Boston Division to fifth. East Coast trails Valley by two points in the division.

  1. Vermont Lumberjacks (3-8-0-0) - Victorious in two of three contests last weekend, this club is beginning to show signs of steady improvement. VT is currently in fourth place in the EHL’s North Division.

  1. New England Wolves (2-6-0-0) - The Wolves went 1-2-0 last weekend but it was not enough to climb out of fifth place in the North Division of the EHL. They trail Vermont by two points in the standings.      

 

     



 

HEHJ Junior Power Rankings

Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 10:34AM

HEH Journal’s Junior Games of the Week and New England Power Rankings 10/7/2014

Games of the Week:

The scouts will flock to this week’s United States Premier Hockey League’s top game between the Jersey Hitmen and the Islanders Hockey Club on Friday October 10th at the Ice Vault in Wayne, New Jersey. The puck drops at 4:30 pm.  

The Eastern Hockey League’s game that will attract the scouts will see the Walpole Express - the first place club in the Boston Division - face off versus the New York Bobcats - who occupy second place in the Central Division - at 10:00 am on Sunday October 12th at the league’s Columbus Day Showcase at Cyclones Arena in Hudson, New Hampshire.

New England Junior Power Rankings:

  1. Boston Jr. Bruins (6-1-0-0) - Boston is in a three-way tie for third place in the USPHL but trail league leading Jersey Hitmen by only two points with three games in hand.

  1. South Shore Kings (6-2-0-0) -   Dropping their only game of the week to the Islanders Hockey Club resulted in the Kings dropping into the tie for third place in the USPHL.

  1. Islanders Hockey Club (5-3-0-1) - An offensive explosion saw IHC score 13 goals in wins over Portland and South Shore last week. It also propelled the Islanders into sixth place in the USPHL, however, they trail the Kings by one point in the circuit’s standings.

  1. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (6-1-0-0) - The top team in the EHL’s North Division, and overall in the league, defeated the Boston Jr. Rangers and the Northern Cyclones last week to extend its win streak to six games.

  1. Walpole Express (4-0-2-0) - The first place club in the Boston Division in the EHL, and tied in points with the Jr. Monarchs in the league’s overall standings, lost their first two games of the season but have won four consecutive tilts since then.

  1. Boston Bandits (4-2-0-0) - A win over the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers gave the Bandits a modest three game win streak. Boston trails Walpole by two points in the EHL’s Boston Division.

  1. Bay State Breakers (5-4-0-0) - Losing two USPHL contests last week resulted in the Breakers dropping from third place to seventh place in the league.

  1. Springfield Pics (3-4-0-1) - Defeating Bay State broke a three game losing streak for the Pics, who occupy ninth place in the USPHL.

  1. Portland Jr. Pirates (3-5-0-1) - A win over Bay State last week brought a four game losing skein to an end. The Jr. Pirates are in tenth place in the USPHL.

  1. Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (3-3-0-0) - A loss to the New York Bobcats and a victory over the Valley Jr. Warriors moved Hartford into fourth place in the EHL’s Central Division.

  1. Connecticut Oilers (3-4-0-0) - Losing their only game last week to Walpole forced the Oilers to fall into fifth place in the Central Division of the EHL.

  1. Northern Cyclones (2-1-1-0) - The week saw the Cyclones register their second win of the season over Vermont accompanied by a loss to New Hampshire. Northern is in second place in the EHL’s North Division. They trail the Jr. Monarchs by seven points.

  1. Boston Jr. Rangers (3-4-0-0) - BJR defeated the Connecticut Oilers and loss to New Hampshire but Boston was able to move into fourth place from fifth place in the EHL’s Boston Division.

  1. East Coast Wizards (3-4-0-0) - A loss to the New Jersey Titans and a win over the New Jersey Rockets were enough to see the Wizards move up from fourth place into third place in the EHL’s Boston Division.

  1. Connecticut Jr. Rangers (2-6-0-2) - Three consecutive losses have forced Connecticut to fall into eleventh place in the USPHL.

  1. Valley Jr. Warriors (2-3-0-0) - All it took was a loss to Hartford to see Valley descend into fifth place in the Boston Division in the EHL.

  1. New England Wolves (1-4-0-0) - Losses to the New York Bobcats and New York Applecore kept the Wolves in fourth place in the EHL’s North Division. All of New England’s losses have been by two goals or less.

  1. Vermont Lumberjacks (1-7-0-0) - The Lumberjacks have dropped seven consecutive contests and hope to change that this weekend versus the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers and/or the Philadelphia Little Flyers.     

 

HEHJ Junior Power Rankings

Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 3:02PM

HEH Junior Game of the Week and Weekly New England Power Rankings 9/30/2014



We at High End Hockey take great pride in training and developing players who advance to the highest levels of hockey.  We believe those players deserve recognition for their achievements, therefore, the High End Hockey Journal is proud to announce that we will preview the junior hockey Game of the Week and New England Junior Power Rankings. These features will be brought to you weekly along with an article designed to highlight various players and teams from the Eastern Hockey League and the United States Premier Hockey League.

 

We hope you enjoy these exciting features and, as always, if you have an idea for an article, feel free to suggest it to us.

 

Shawn Hutcheon

Editor-In-Chief

High End Hockey Journal    



Junior Game of the Week:

 

In the United States Premier Hockey League, two old time rivals the South Shore Kings and the Islanders Hockey Club will face off at 1:00 pm Sunday October 5, 2014 at Gallant Arena on the campus of Merrimack College.

 

This will be the second meeting between the first place Kings and seventh place Islanders. South Shore won the first game 2-1 on September 19th.

 

In Eastern Hockey League action, the main attraction will see the Connecticut Oilers visit the Walpole Express at Walpole’s Rodman Arena on Saturday October 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

 

The Oilers are 2-1-0-0 on the road while the Express is 1-0-2-0 at home.

 

 

New England Junior Power Rankings:

 

  1. South Shore Kings (6-1-0-0) - The Kings began the season with a five game winning streak and claimed a share of first place in the USPHL with the Jersey Hitmen. Boston Bruins draft pick Ryan Donato, who hails from Scituate, MA leads the club with seven points.

 

  1. Boston Jr. Bruins (5-1-0-0) - The defending USA Hockey Tier III national champions occupy third place in the USPHL. The club is currently enjoying a four game win streak and is paced by veteran Ryan Cloonan, a resident of East Longmeadow, MA, who has amassed nine points.

 

  1. Bay State Breakers (5-2-0-0) - Bay State has been on a roller coaster ride to start the season. The Breakers won their first three tilts, lost their next two, and have won the last two. They occupy fourth place in the USPHL but trail South Shore by only two points. The Breakers are led by New Mexico native Jackson Barliant’s seven points.  

 

  1. Walpole Express (3-0-2-0) - What a difference a year makes. Last season, the Express was one of the doormats but have rebounded to be the number two team overall in the Eastern Hockey League and reside in first place in the circuit’s Boston Division. They have yet to lose in regulation time. San Mateo, California native Nick Balboa and EHL veteran Frankie Cefalu are the club’s top point producers with ten points each.

 

  1. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (4-1-0-0) - The Monarchs are an eastern junior hockey power year in and year out and this season should be no different. The Monarchs are in first place in the EHL’s North Division. The Monarchs have assembled a four game winning streak and are paced by Luke Babcock’s seven points in five games.

 

  1. Islanders Hockey Club (3-4-0-1) - After losing their first four games of the season, the Islanders have reeled off three consecutive victories to climb to seventh place in the eleven team USPHL. Cleveland, Ohio’s Liam McDermott and Billerica, MA native Ross Olsson lead the squad with six points each.

 

  1. Boston Bandits (3-2-0-0) - Winners of three of their last four contests, the Bandits reside in second place in the EHL’s Boston Division. They trail Walpole by two points in the race of first place. Forwards Davis Zembergs and Clay Berger have posted five points each to take the lead in team scoring.

 

  1. Springfield Pics (2-4-0-1) - New to the USPHL this season, the Pics have a long history as one of junior hockey’s most successful franchises but they have taken their lumps thus far. They occupy eighth place in the circuit. Trumbull, Connecticut’s Bryan Platt and Boston’s David Lackner have registered four points each to lead the club in scoring.

 

  1. Connecticut Oilers (3-2-0-0) - The second place squad in the EHL’s Central Division are four points out of first place. Eagan, MN native Jim Buckingham is the team’s leading scorer with 5 goals and 2 assists in five contests.

 

  1. Portland Jr. Pirates (2-5-0-1) - After suffering through a long 2013-2014 inaugural season in the USPHL, the Jr. Pirates are hoping to make an impact in the league this season. They are currently mired in a three game losing streak and in ninth place in the circuit. Maine native Brady Fleurent sits atop the squad’s scorers with five points.

 

  1. Valley Jr. Warriors (2-2-0-0) - Sitting in third place in the EHL’s Boston Division, the Warriors are looking to rebound from a disastrous ‘13-’14 season. Andrew Irving has posted a total of seven points in three of his team’s four tilts and leads Valley in scoring.  

 

  1. Connecticut Jr. Rangers (2-6-0-1) - A new name has not changed the fortunes of the franchise once known as the Connecticut Yankees. The Jr. Rangers dropped the first five games of the season before getting into the win column. They are in tenth place in the USPHL. New Canaan, CT resident Ryan Harper has paced his club with 12 points in eight games played.  

 

  1. Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (2-2-0-0) - It has been a season of streaks up to this point for Hartford. The team won its first two games but it has lost its last two contests. They are in fourth place in the EHL’s Central Division. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Ben Mariano is the club’s leading scorer with nine points in four games.

 

  1. East Coast Wizards (2-3-0-0) - A new member of the EHL, the Wizards won their first game then dropped their next three consecutive tilts before getting back on the winning track in their last game. They are in fourth place in the circuit’s Boston Division and are led in scoring by Connor Demore, who hails from Watertown, MA and has notched five points.

 

  1. Boston Jr. Rangers (2-3-0-0) - Another club that is hoping to register a winning season after a disappointing 2013-2014, the Jr. Rangers have lost two consecutive tilts and are in fifth place in the EHL’s Boston Division. Three players, Andrew Etheridge, Thomas Evans, and Derek Mecrones, lead the club with six points each.

 

  1. Northern Cyclones (1-0-1-0) - Northern has played just two games and has yet to lose in regulation time. They are in second place in the EHL’s North Division. Keep an eye on this club. They should rise in the rankings quickly. Amherst, NY native Sean Brown has registered four points on the young season and leads the Cyclones in that category.

 

  1. New England Wolves (1-2-0-0) - A new addition to the EHL, the Wolves played an independent schedule during the last two seasons. They will need time to adjust to one of the top junior leagues in the USA but have enough talent to make some noise before it’s all said and done. Mike Kelleher’s three points leads the team in scoring.

 

  1. Vermont Lumberjacks (1-4-0-0) - After upsetting the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs in its season opener, the expansion Lumberjacks have lost four consecutive games and reside in fifth place in the EHL’s North Division. Gabe Flood, who hails from Onalaska, WI, leads the squad with six points.   




 

Knocking on the NHL's Door and What It Takes to Get There

Monday, September 8, 2014, 8:50PM
Riley Wetmore

In the game of hockey, like all professional sports, the elite rise to the highest levels. In hockey’s case, those elite athletes play in the National Hockey League. They are the best of the best but have you ever wondered what kind of effort it takes to become labeled as one of the best?

Former University of Massachusetts Lowell captain Riley Wetmore is on the fast track to joining hockey’s elite athletes but he has not achieved his success by simply wishing for it.

Wetmore, a two-time recipient of UMass Lowell’s Male Student-Athlete of the Year award (2012 and 2013) and was named to the Hockey East All-Conference Second Team (2013), signed with the New York Islanders after posting 111 career points at UML and was assigned to New York’s American Hockey League affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, where scored his first professional goal during his three game stint at the end of the 2012-2013 season.

Wetmore returned to Bridgeport for the 2013-2014 season and saw action in 38 games, in which, he scored three goals and eight assists before suffering a concussion. The Islanders had the forward rehab and complete the season with the East Coast Hockey League’s Stockton (CA) Thunder, where Wetmore scored two goals and three assists in fifteen contests. He followed that up with one goal and one assist in nine postseason games for the Thunder.

If you are not that one in 10 million, who is selected as a top five pick in the NHL Entry Draft, chances are you will need to find that one thing that gives you the edge over all others that will propel you to the NHL.

Riley Wetmore has had to put in hour upon hour of hard work and perspiration to be on the NHL’s doorstep. Recently, he sat down with the High End Hockey Journal and discussed his journey to professional hockey.

“I grew up in Vermont,” Wetmore began. “In the town of Swanton, which is about six miles from the Canadian border. I played high school hockey there during my freshman and sophomore years. I just knew I wanted to play at the higher levels so I spoke with my coaches and they told me I had to make a choice, either keep playing high school hockey or move on and try to make the junior team that was in Vermont (Green Mountain Glades). So, I made the decision to play midget AAA 16-Under that year and was called up to the junior A team right around Christmas time. I played around 30 games with them then the full year the following season, which was my senior year of high school. Then, I took two years off from school and continued to play junior hockey. I wanted to try to, eventually, play in Hockey East. I grew up a University of Vermont fan and watched them play a lot so I wanted to see if I could play at that level.”

How did the young hockey player, who had hoped to attend the University of Vermont, find his way to Lowell, Massachusetts?

“Two of my best friends on the Glades ended up going to UMass Lowell and told me how much they loved it,” Wetmore explained. “I went there on a visit and met some of the players and the coaching staff and ended up going there.”

While skating for the River Hawks, Wetmore flourished under the tutelage of the team’s present head coach Norm Bazin.

“I played for (head coach) Blaise MacDonald during my freshman and sophomore years and Norm Bazin came in for my junior and senior years,” the 25-year-old forward said.

Wetmore continues to communicate with his former coaches.

“I talk to Norm once per week and have stayed in touch with all the coaches there,” he said. “UML is a great organization.”

In a world where some players need to make the choice whether to pursue hockey through the college route or move to Canada to play in one of the three major junior leagues, Wetmore, not surprisingly, urges players to get their education while chasing the dream.

“I would tell kids if they had the choice to play major junior or college hockey, I would always say go to college because I had such a great experience in college, however, I understand that some kids take a different route (major junior) and that may be better for them but at the same point, from my experiences and those of other guys, I think the college route is the way to go,” Wetmore said.

As many can attest to, after four years of college, it is time to experience the “real world.” After graduating from UMass Lowell, Wetmore quickly learned there are significant differences between the college and pro hockey lifestyles.

“I feel in college, you always know where you’re going to be for four years,” the Eastern Junior Hockey League alum said. “You kind of get a comfort level where you get to know the guys, there’s camaraderie in the locker room. I’m going to stay in touch with people I went to college with for life.”

“In the pros, it’s different;” Wetmore continued. “I was a 24-years-old rookie with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and it’s a different spectrum in the locker room. There are guys who have families, guys who don’t. It’s a lot tougher because when you’re done with practice, guys are going in all different directions. In college, guys are going back to the same dorm or you live in the same house, you’re together in the same classes so you’re seeing the guys more. It was different in pro hockey because you don’t have homework. I loved that but it was different. I had to learn a different hobby, I mean, you can watch TV but that gets boring after a while and you can only go to the mall so many days. You need to find ways to keep yourself busy. Some guys learn to cook. You do other things but overall, it was a good experience.”

Hockey, like all professional sports, is a business and the harsh reality is that management makes decisions that can be out of your control and you need to be prepared for it.

“One thing I learned is you can be there for one day then be sent somewhere else,” Wetmore said. “You need to be a team player, be a team guy in the locker room as well but you’re there to really play for yourself and just work as hard as you can because you never know when you’ll be sent down to the lower level team (ECHL) or called up (to the NHL) and if you get sent down, it’s all a mental thing. Some guys who get sent down say, ‘What’s the difference?’ Well, you gotta stay healthy, that’s the number one thing and mentally, you have to be tough. You have to fight through some of the adversity. The guy who makes it (to the NHL) looks at being sent down as a positive.”

Wetmore knows of which he speaks and discusses what it is like to be sent down to a place like Stockton, California to continue his career.

“It was neat,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I had been out for a little while with a concussion. I knew I was going to be sent out there which wasn’t bad. I wanted to keep playing and in Bridgeport, we didn’t make the playoffs, unfortunately, so I was sent out there and it was great. The guys were great. The weather was, obviously, awesome. You wake up every day and it’s 75 degrees and sunny. That’s the toughest thing but you gotta stay focused and not let up and that’s one of the tough things about pro hockey. It’s a great lifestyle and a lot of guys like the lifestyle but don’t want to put in the hard work.”

The Golden State made a pretty good impression on Wetmore.

“California hockey is great,” he continued. “There are a lot of pro teams out there and I really enjoyed my time there.”

After the season ended, Wetmore decided to move on from the Islanders organization and became a Columbus Blue Jackets prospect.

“I’ve signed with Springfield (Columbus’ AHL affiliate) and accepted a tryout offer to go to the NHL (Blue Jackets) camp on the 17th of September,” an, obviously, very happy Wetmore said. “They just told me to work hard this summer and come into camp in great shape so I’ve been trying to get into the best shape that I can and prove myself. They’ve said that it doesn’t matter if you’re a first round draft pick or not drafted at all, just work hard and they’ll take the best players and that’s good enough for me. I just gotta prove myself. If you have a bad day, you just gotta grind it out. You can’t just be one type of hockey player. In any pro league, as a forward, you need to be good at left wing, right wing, and center because you never know what position is going to be open and you want to be able to move up as fast as you can.”

As with all hockey players, Wetmore admires NHL players, past and present and hopes to follow their footsteps to The Show.

“I like Patrice Bergeron,” he said when asked to whom he pays close attention. “He plays defensively, he play offensively but growing up, obviously, I liked to watch (former Philadelphia Flyer) John LeClair because he’s from Vermont and I liked the way he played. Just a big, strong player, who shot the puck a lot. He was tough. I also really liked to watch (retired Colorado Avalanche captain) Joe Sakic but overall, in the last few years, I’ve really paid attention to Bergeron.”

In looking to become the best player he can be, Wetmore has spent the last two summers training away from home.

“My move down to Massachusetts within the last couple of years just to train has been great,” Wetmore explained. “Working with High End Hockey’s Jon Hutcheon and Xcelerated Performance’s Pat Gigante has been awesome. With Pat, I had a little bit of a hip problem. He knew that so he had me do one legged exercises such as squats and also focussing on improving my posture. As a hockey player, you’re always sort of bent over so I focus on keeping my shoulders back. Pat’s been great. He’s kept me healthy and I feel really good and that’s thanks to Pat.”

“On the ice, Jon has helped me with my shot and the little things like skating down the wing, keeping my shoulders square and getting a consistently hard shot on goal with the intent that you always shoot to score,” continued Wetmore. “He’s helped me with my (shooting) release and I feel really good when I do it the right way. When I don’t, I get kind of lazy and he teaches you how to focus so that won’t happen.”  

“I can feel the difference on and off the ice so it’s been great,” he concluded.

With the summer workout schedule behind him, there is always something more that can be done in order to achieve the goal of playing in the NHL.

“I need to stay healthy and if I get called up, I’ll need to just play my game and hopefully, stick with the big club but, as I said, I need to prove myself at the American League level and prove that I can handle it and be ready if I am called up to the NHL,” Wetmore explained.

Knowing that young players of all ages have the desire to be paid to play. Wetmore is quick to offer advice when asked how does one become a professional hockey player.

“Work hard and play other sports,” he said, adamantly. “Growing up and even now, I go and play golf or ping pong. The little things that will help you become a better athlete. Baseball is good for developing eye-hand coordination. Soccer helps with footwork.”

“Overall, play other sports and just have fun,” Wetmore continued. “Once hockey becomes a job and you get paid to play, it’s still fun but you can’t take it so seriously that you’re not going to love it when the new season comes around and you do that by playing other sports. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I made the decision to pursue hockey more than the other sports but, because of the seasons, I still get to play golf and I love it.”

Riley Wetmore is living the life so many dream of living. It did not, and does not, come easy but with sacrifice, perseverance, talent, and good old fashioned hard work, he is knocking on the NHL’s door. You will find him skating in an NHL arena near you, very soon.

 

 
 
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