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Monday, August 31, 2015
Incoming UNH Freshman Ara Nazarian
Ara Nazarian - Forward #22
For the 2015-16 season, the UNH hockey team welcomes six freshmen. The Class of 2019 includes 5 forwards - Marcus Vela, Ara Nazarian, Jason Kalinowski, Chris Miller, and Frankie Cefalu - and defenseman Matt Dawson. Here is a profile of Ara Nazarian, including a new interview with his former coach Dave Allison of the Des Moines Buccaneers.
Last Team: Des Moines Buccaneers
United States Hockey League
DOB: 6-19-1996 Hometown: Boxford, MA
Forward, 5'9", 185 lbs. Shoots Left
Commit to UNH:
4-2-2013 at Age 16 years, 10 months.
Signed National Letter of Intent: 4-21-2015
Throughout the 2014-15 regular season, Ara Nazarian was coached by Dave Allison, Head Coach and General Manager of the Des Moines Buccaneers. Last week, I had an opportunity to interview Coach Allison regarding Nazarian's strengths and readiness for NCAA hockey:
Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): What are Ara's strengths and how did he develop during his season with the Buccaneers?
Coach Dave Allison: Ara was a player that progressed start to finish and became a valuable asset. And I might add what a great kid he was as well. By the end of the season Ara was just starting to kill penalties and accept he could play against top lines. And in order to do that he had to bring a consistent level of compete and competency.
Mike Lowry: What kind of adjustments will Ara need to make as he begins his NCAA career?
Coach Allison: At the end of the year, Ara was able to play vs the top players in the USHL, yet he still needed to learn how to compete and win more battles than he lost against the top players. He needs to solidify this foundation and make it his norm.
"This smart, skilled forward with creative hands can have moments where he looks disinterested in the play but when he sniffs out an offensive chance he becomes hard to handle and aggressive offensively. Has a quick release on a real dangerous shot selection.”
"ESPN Boston’s inaugural Mr. Hockey isn’t a dynamic skater but he’s got outstanding hands and a lot of vision and creativity. He’s been on area watch lists for years."
~ 2012-13 season: ESPNBoston.com "Mr. Hockey" Award - Top Massachusetts High School Hockey Player.
~ Member of 2012, 2013, and 2014 Super 8 Champion Malden Catholic High School. Team's leading scorer as sophomore and junior.
For the 2015-16 season, the UNH hockey team welcomes six freshmen. The Class of 2019 includes 5 forwards - Marcus Vela, Ara Nazarian, Jason Kalinowski, Chris Miller, and Frankie Cefalu - and defenseman Matt Dawson. Here is a profile of Frankie Cefalu, including a new interview with his former coach Jon Lounsbury.
Last Team: Walpole Express
Eastern Hockey League
DOB: 3-13-1995 Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Defense, 5'11", 170 lbs. Shoots Right
Commit to UNH:
1-30-2015 at Age 19 years, 10 months.
Throughout the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, Frankie Cefalu was coached by Jon Lounsbury, Head Coach of the Walpole Express. This week, I had an opportunity to interview Coach Lounsbury regarding Cefalu's strengths and readiness for NCAA hockey:
Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): What are Frankie's strengths and how did he develop during his seasons with the Express?
Coach Jon Lounsbury: Frankie developed a ton in his 2 seasons with the Express. He is one of the most dynamic players I have seen. Coaches often talk about "hockey sense" - Frankie has an incredible feel for the game of hockey. He sees things develop and attacks. This past season Frankie became stronger and took a lot of pride in his defensive play. Those two things were the difference makers for him this season.
Mike Lowry: What kind of adjustments will Frankie need to make as he begins his NCAA career?
Coach Lounsbury: He is going to need to adjust to the new speed of the game, but he also has the ability to dictate the pace of the game while he's out there. He also has to get used to the academic rigors and stress that will come with being a student athlete. Frankie graduated from a prestigious high school (Nichols School, Buffalo NY). He has been out of the classroom for 2 seasons. We are excited for his next adventure and can't wait to see him in a Wildcats' uniform.
Junior Hockey Achievements
~ 2013-14 season: First Team EHL All Star. Second leading scorer in Eastern Hockey League, 1st in assists (17g, 46a).
~ 2012-13 season: Most assists in EHL (46).
For the 2015-16 season, the UNH hockey team welcomes six freshmen. The Class of 2019 includes 5 forwards - Marcus Vela, Ara Nazarian, Jason Kalinowski, Chris Miller, and Frankie Cefalu - and defenseman Matt Dawson. Here is a profile of Matt Dawson, including a new interview with his former coach Pat Mikesch.
Last Team: Green Bay Gamblers
United States Hockey League
DOB: 8-13-1996 Hometown: Tsawwassen, British Columbia
Defense, 5'10", 160 lbs. Shoots Left
Commit to UNH:
7-11-2015 at Age 18 years, 11 months.
Signed National Letter of Intent: August 2015
Throughout the 2014-15 regular season, Matt Dawson was coached by Pat Mikesch, Head Coach and General Manager of the Green Bay Gamblers. This week, I had an opportunity to interview Coach Mikesch regarding Dawson's strengths and readiness for NCAA hockey:
Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): What are Matt's strengths and how did he develop during last season with the Gamblers?
Coach Pat Mikesch: Matt is a very good first pass defenseman that provides offense by joining the rush late and by using his shot from the blueline. He earned more responsibilities last year as he improved his defensive game.
Mike Lowry: What kind of adjustments will Matt need to make as he begins his NCAA career?
Coach Mikesch: Matt will need to continue to work on his defensive game against bigger and faster opponents. His understanding of the game and work ethic will help his development.
Junior Hockey Achievements
~ 2013-14 season: Leading scorer among the Surrey Eagles defensemen (6g, 28a). Among all BCHL defensemen, tied for 10th in scoring, T-7 in assists.
~ 2012-13 season: As a 16-years-old, played on Surrey Eagles team that won the Western Canada Cup and advanced to the semifinals of the Royal Bank Cup.
For the 2015-16 season, the UNH hockey team welcomes six freshmen. The Class of 2019 includes 5 forwards - Marcus Vela, Ara Nazarian, Jason Kalinowski, Chris Miller, and Frankie Cefalu - and defenseman Matt Dawson. Here is a profile of Marcus Vela, including a new interview with his former coach Bobby Henderson.
Last Team: Langley Rivermen
British Columbia Hockey League
DOB: 3-3-1997 Hometown: Burnaby, BC
Forward, 6'2", 200 lbs. Shoots Right
Commit to UNH:
9-25-2013 at Age 16 years, 6 months.
Signed National Letter of Intent: 4-21-2015
Throughout the 2013-14 and 2014-15 regular seasons and BCHL Playoffs, Marcus Vela was coached by Bobby Henderson, Head Coach and General Manager of the Langley Rivermen. This week, I had an opportunity to interview Coach Henderson regarding Vela's strengths and readiness for NCAA hockey:
Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): What are Marcus' strengths and how did he develop during last season with the Rivermen?
Coach Bobby Henderson:
It was a treat coaching Marcus the past two seasons. Marcus is a very versatile two way forward. His physicality and hockey sense our his two best attributes in my opinion. Right of out the gate as a 16 year old we were able to use Marcus in a primarily defensive role. He played head to head against teams top lines and was relied heavily on as a penalty killer.
As the season progressed and into his second season, Marcus really started to produce consistently. He was on our top line all year as well as on our top power play unit. We also continued to use him in all defensive situations like the season before. He was our guy in key defensive zone face offs, penalty kill and shut down situations.
Mike Lowry: What kind of adjustments will Marcus need to make as he begins his NCAA career?
Coach Henderson: Marcus has all the tools to make smooth transition to college hockey. I think like any player there will be a bit of a transition period as he adjusts to the pace of play. With his work ethic and character it shouldn't take long for the UNH staff to have confidence to use him in all situations.
~ Drafted in the 7th Round (170th Overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks.
~ Played for Team Canada West in the 2014 World Junior A Challenge and the 2015 Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game.
~ BCHL "Player of the Week" March 3, 2015
~ Regular Season: 3rd Leading Rivermen Scorer (49 pts) and goal-scorer (20).
Defenseman Matthew Dawson Commits to UNH for This Fall
Incoming UNH Freshman
18-year-old Matthew Dawson (DOB: 8/13/1996), a left-shot defenseman from Tsawwassen, British Columbia (outside of Vancouver) has committed to play for UNH in the 2015-16 season. Last season, the 5'10", 160 lbs. Dawson was the second-highest scorer among the Green Bay Gambler defensemen with 5 goals, including one game-winner, and 8 assists. Green Bay won only 18 games and had the second fewest points in the United States Hockey league.
Dawson played youth hockey with the South Delta Minor Hockey Association and Junior B hockey with the Delta Ice Hawks (same as Chicago Blackhawk defenseman Brent Seabrook). As a 16-year-old rookie with the Ice Hawks in the 2012-13 season, Dawson played against 20-year-olds and performed well enough to be called up for five regular-season games by the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League. Ice Hawks head coach Dave McLellan described Dawson's strengths:
"He moves up the ice really well and is a good fit for our system too. We need guys who can play a possession type game and can break trapping teams with speed."
At the end of the regular season, Dawson joined the Surrey Eagles for their successful run through the playoffs. He played in three playoff games as the Eagles won the 2013 BCHL Championship. In the 2013 Western Canada Cup, which pits the champions of the three western province Junior A leagues against each other, the Surrey Eagles won and Dawson played in all 5 games. In the ultimate championship tournament - the Royal Bank Cup - Dawson and the Eagles advanced to the semifinal round but lost in overtime. Shortly after the RBC, Dawson committed to play for Surrey in the 2013-14 season. In the announcement, Eagles' Head Coach and General Manager Matt Erhart said:
"With the departure of some of our key blue liners from last season, we're excited to have Matthew join our club as a young puck moving defenceman. Matthew performed beyond his years during our run to the RBC Cup, and we're looking forward to him being a part of our team for the 2013-2014 season."
In his rookie season in the BCHL, Matt Dawson lead the defensemen on the Surrey Eagles in the regular season with 6 goals, including 4 power play goals, and 28 assists. Among all BCHL defensemen, he tied for 10th in scoring and tied for 7th in assists. Surrey lost in the opening round of the 2013-14 BCHL playoffs. In 6 playoff games, Dawson scored 2 power play goals and added 2 assists. Dan Sallows, head scout for the Merritt Centennials that season, compiled this highlight video of Matt Dawson's play in the 2013-14 season:
I asked Dan Sallows, who is now the British Columbia interior regional scout for the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League, for his evaluation of Matt Dawson:
"Matt has a good quick first step, is excellent at walking the blueline and quarterbacking the PP, isn't overly big but utilizes his IQ, active stick and good body positioning when defending, has decent shot, reads the play well, rarely panics, good at moving the puck and transitioning up the ice, and generally makes smart decisions."
I had an opportunity to interview Matt, via email, about his background and commitment to UNH:
Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?
Matt Dawson: The main reasons for my choice of the University of New Hampshire were the amazing campus and facilities - as well as the coaching staff.
Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering?
Matt Dawson: I was recruited by other programs but never got into a serious talk about attending. I have always planned on attending a U.S college for hockey. It's a big part of your life and you want it to be the right fit and I think I've found that with UNH.
Lowry: Will you be enrolling as a freshman at UNH this fall?
Dawson: Yes, I'll be enrolling this fall. Lowry: Late in the 2012-13 season, when you were 16 years old, you were called up to play for the Surrey Eagles in the British Columbia Hockey League. You got to play in all of the games as Surrey won the Western Canada Cup and advanced to the semifinals of the Royal Bank Cup. How did you respond to the pressure of playing in the most prestigious tournaments in Canadian Junior A Hockey at such a young age?
Dawson: As you mentioned, I was called up at the end of the season to play in the playoffs. It was a big step in my junior hockey career but the veteran players on the team made the adjustment much easier for me. The coaching staff of Matt Erhart and Peter Schaefer also were a huge help in making the adjustment and playing me in the right positions. Lowry: In the 2013-14 season, you were the leading scorer among the Surrey Eagles defensemen with 6 goals and 28 assists. Among all BCHL defensemen, you were tied for 10th in scoring and tied for 7th in assists. At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?
Dawson: My strengths are my hockey vision and my ability to make the first pass out of my zone. The areas I am trying to improve on are my strength and ability to get in front of pucks in my zone. Lowry: The year before coming to UNH, defenseman Dylan Chanter moved from the BCHL to the USHL. Last year, you made a similar move from the BCHL to the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. What was that transition like and did you notice any differences between the leagues?
Dawson: The transition was smooth. Green Bay is a fantastic organization that helped develop my game. The leagues are very similar, the only difference I would notice would be the USHL has a little more depth in every team. Lowry: You scored 5 goals and 8 assists in 57 games for the Gamblers last season. Which defensive pairing did you play on and did you play on the Gamblers' special teams?
Dawson: I played most of the year with Grant Frederic (a Miami University commit), which I enjoyed a lot. I did play on the power play throughout the year. Lowry: Where did you graduate from high school? What major do you plan to pursue at UNH?
Dawson: I graduated from South Delta Secondary in Tsawwassen, BC Canada. I plan to pursue a major in Kinesiology. I'm extremely excited to start a new chapter at UNH and look forward to everything that the next few years have to hold.
"He's going to his alma mater and he's going to work for a coach I have the utmost respect for. Dick Umile, when you look at not only his success as a hockey coach, but how he mentors his players, he's a coach I can honestly say truly cares about every kid who comes through his program. Mike couldn't have a better mentor over the next couple of years before he takes over as head coach. It's a wonderful opportunity and I'm really happy for him. It will be a seemless transition when Dick decides to retire. I told Dick I would support it if they were going to move him to head coach. Dick said, 'That's our plan.' I was very happy. I have a great relationship with Dick. He's an upfront, honest guy. I know he cares about Mike like a son."
In today's announcement, Coach Umile did not address his retirement or the possibility of Coach Souza replacing him as head coach.
The relationship between Dick Umile and Mike Souza dates back to the mid-1990's when Umile recruited him to play at UNH. At the time, Souza was a star hockey player at Wakefield (MA) High School. In the late 1960's, Umile had been a high school hockey and football star in the neighboring town of Melrose, MA. Souza graduated from Wakefield High in 1996. He scored 97 goals and 107 assists in three seasons and was inducted into the Wakefield Warriors' Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
In the story of UNH's 40-year quest to win the NCAA Division I Ice Hockey National Championship, the most compelling chapter involves Coach Umile and his star player Mike Souza. On April 3, 1999, Souza drew the UNH Men's hockey program as close to the National Championship as it has ever been. Umile was in his ninth season as head coach and his first line of Mike Souza (left wing), Jason Krog (center), and Darren Haydar (right wing) was the top scoring line in the country with a combined total of 86 goals. Entering the third period of the 1999 championship game in Anaheim, California, the University of Maine lead UNH 2-1. Just over three minutes into the final period of regulation, Haydar (#20) intercepted a clearing effort in the corner to the right of Maine goalie Alfie Michaud and back-handed a pass behind the net to Hobey Baker winner Jason Krog (#28). Krog one-timed his 51st assist of the season to a wide-open Mike Souza in the low slot. Souza banged the puck over Michaud's right pad for the game-tying goal.
For the remaining 16 minutes and 30 seconds of regulation and more than 10 minutes into overtime, UNH sought the elusive game-winning goal which would have earned them the first National Championship. But it wasn't to be. Marcus Gustafsson beat All-American goalie Ty Conklin at the 10:50 mark of overtime. For the last 16 years, diehard UNH fans have been left to wonder what might have been.
Mike Souza had also scored 2 goals in UNH's 1999 semifinal win over Michigan State. He lead all scorers in the Frozen Four games with 6 points. Souza, along with Jason Krog and Jayme Filipowicz, were named to the 1999 All-Tournament Team.
In his four-year career at UNH, Mike Souza played in 156 games and scored 66 goals and 90 assists. In his sophomore season, he tallied 25 points for the 1997-98 team that advanced to the Frozen Four. Souza was the Wildcats' captain in his senior year and was named a Hockey East Second Team All-Star.
Souza's Professional Playing Career
Soon after Mike Souza finished his freshman season at UNH, he was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 3rd Round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Souza was the 67th overall selection - the same as Warren Foegele in the 2014 NHL Draft. After graduation, Souza played left wing for the Norfolk Admirals, the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate, for two years. In his third AHL season, he was traded to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Over that span, Souza averaged 14 goals and 15 assists per season.
After two more seasons of splitting time with AHL and ECHL teams, Souza went to Germany and Switzerland to play professionally in the 2005-06 season. He then played five seasons in Italy-A, the top professional league in Italy. He lead SG Cortina in scoring during their 2006-07 Championship season. Souza also played for the Italian National Team in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships from 2008-2011. The highlight was 2010 when Souza lead Team Italy in scoring (1g, 4a) as they competed in the Elite Division of the IIHF Championship. Former UNH star Stevie Moses and Team USA recently won the bronze medal in the 2015 edition of this prestigious tournament.
Souza's Coaching Experience
The backstory of Mike Souza's transition from playing to coaching, described by Dan Guttenplan in the New England Hockey Journal, sheds more light on his 20-year relationship with UNH Head Coach Dick Umile. By the end of the 2010-11 season in Italy, Souza realized his playing career was coming to a close and, with a wife and two young daughters, he needed to make a career decision. He sought advice from Coach Umile:
"He was pretty frank with me about the ups and downs (of coaching). Coming from playing I realized I'd have to grind it out for a program in a transition phase. (Umile) was one of the most influential people in my life, and I wanted to be like him. Here's a guy year after year who has a tremendous amount of pressure on him, and he has a stoic nature to him. He doesn't let the kids know what's going on behind the scenes."
Coach Umile referred Souza to Brown University Assistant Coach Mark White, a former teammate and roommate of Mike's at UNH. White, in turn, recommended Souza to Head Coach Brendan Whittet for the vacant assistant job at Brown. Souza was hired and spent the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons with the Brown Bears. His primary responsibilities included recruiting, coaching the forwards and overseeing the power play. Coach Whittet credited Souza with "having a keen eye for talent and an ability to connect with recruits of all backgrounds."
Near the end of Souza's second season with Brown, Whittet offered this glowing assessment:
"I think he has all the traits to be a head coach. He's a guy that really gets it. He understands kids. He puts in the work. Obviously you have to pay your dues like all of us have. There has to be some ability to translate overseeing an organization from being an assistant. That's a reality for Mike. I'm so excited he's part of our staff; he's invaluable to Brown hockey."
Around this time, Coach Umile said this about Souza:
"Mike has a tremendous personality. People enjoy him, and he's a great competitor. He was a great player and he did a lot for the program, on and off the ice. He's quickly become very well-respected in college-coaching circles."
In May, 2013, the University of Connecticut took a bold step in its preparation for joining Hockey East with the hiring of Boston College Assistant Mike Cavanaugh to be their head coach. A month later, Coach Cavanaugh hired Mike Souza to be his assistant coach at UConn. For the past two seasons, Souza has been primarily responsible for coordinating the Huskies' power play and directing the team's recruiting.
Less than two months ago, Coach Cavanaugh promoted Souza to the position of associate head coach. In the official announcement, Cavanaugh said:
"I am pleased to announce that Mike Souza has been promoted to Associate Head Coach at the University of Connecticut. Mike's extensive playing experience and coaching skills continue to enhance our program. He was an integral part of our success competing in our first year in Hockey East and will continue to be a key part of the growth of this program."
3 Former UNH Captains - 3 UNH Coaches
With Mike Souza on board, the UNH men's hockey coaching staff is comprised of three former team captains and members of the UNH Century Club. Coach Umile captained the 1971-72 squad and scored 144 points in three seasons (freshmen were not allowed to play varsity hockey). Associate Head Coach Glenn Stewart, who is 44 years old and was hired by Umile last August, was the Wildcats' Alternate Captain in the 1993-94 season. UNH qualified for the NCAA Tournament in Stewart's sophomore and senior seasons. Stewart scored 102 points in four seasons before embarking on a 9-year professional playing career.
Mike Souza's return to his alma mater as the Associate Head Coach of the UNH Wildcats is also a home-coming, of sorts, for his wife Kelly. The couple met at UNH and she played for the UNH women's hockey team. Kelly has coached hockey and lacrosse at St. Mary Bay View Academy in East Providence, RI. The Sousa's have two daughters, Ella and Ava. The love of hockey is spread throughout their extended family. Kelly's sister Krissy played hockey for Brown University. Her other sister Kim is married to Chris Bourque who plays in the AHL and is Hall-of-Famer Ray Bourque's son. Mike Souza is the cousin of former UNH star and current New Jersey/Albany Devils' forward Paul Thompson.
Marcus Vela, Incoming UNH Freshman, Drafted by San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks Draft UNH's Marcus Vela
Power center Marcus Vela is on his way. On June 27th, the 6'1", 205 lbs., right-shot forward was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the 7th Round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He was the 170th pick overall. Next month, Marcus will leave his hometown of Burnaby, British Columbia for the cross-continent journey to Durham, New Hampshire for his freshman year at the University of New Hampshire.
Less than two years ago, at the age of 16, Vela (DOB: 3/3/1997) went to play Junior A hockey for the Langley Rivermen in the British Columbia Hockey League. Two months into his rookie season in the BCHL, Marcus Vela verbally accepted a scholarship offer from UNH. Over the course of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, Vela netted 32 goals and added 42 assists for the Rivermen. Last December, he played for Team Canada West in the 2014 World Junior A Challenge.
"Key on the power play and penalty kill … plays a responsible two-way game … very strong on the puck … solid on face-offs … brings a physical element … plays with a purpose … good vision … high compete level.”
"An offensively gifted power center that takes the game as it comes to him. Good hockey sense and possesses the positive character traits that indicate versatility in a lineup; scouts look for these intangibles in players. Decent skating ability, but knows what he can and can't do. Knows how to direct plays and realizes when and how he can step in to make a difference - whether it be through a little bit of rough stuff or with a clutch goal. All-in-all, the type of well-rounded player that can compliment his linemates well, and knows how to make an impact in a game.”
On NHL Draft day, Marcus Vela was at home in Burnaby, British Columbia with his dad Dave and mother Liz. I had an opportunity to interview Marcus, via email, about his selection in the NHL draft:
Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your selection in the 7th Round of the 2015 NHL Draft. I understand you were at home in Burnaby, British Columbia on draft day. Would you describe what it was like as Day 2 of the draft began?
Marcus Vela: As Day 2 began I knew that if I were to be selected in the 2015 NHL Draft that it would be on this day. I woke up in the morning and started to watch the draft with my family. Once the draft reached the 5th round mark, I started to watch a little closer because that was where I was projected to go. But, by the beginning of the 7th round my name didn't pop up.
I wasn't too upset because my current mindset is to be ready for my freshman year at UNH this coming fall. I knew that if I didn't get drafted, my journey would not end but in fact I would have the chance to play collage hockey and develop my game further. Once I saw my name pop up, I was excited and honoured to have been selected by the San Jose Sharks.
Mike Lowry: Since last September, the NHL Central Scouting Service has consistently identified you as a prospect likely to be drafted this year. Now, the San Jose Sharks have drafted you and you are the only player from the British Columbia Hockey League to be drafted this year. As the draft progressed into the later rounds, were you concerned that you might not hear your name called?
Marcus Vela: Yes, I started to get concerned as the rounds went on but for me the draft wasn't everything. Obviously, the draft is a huge deal and a great accomplishment but I knew whether I got drafted or not I would be playing collage hockey and would have a chance to develop my game much further. As I found out, I had been selected I was honoured and proud to have been picked by San Jose.
Lowry: Did the scouting staff of NHL clubs interview you ahead of the draft? Did you have a sense that San Jose might draft you?
Vela: Yes, I was in contact with a few teams, one of them being San Jose. I had a feeling San Jose had more interest in me but I did not know how much interest there really was.
Lowry: What are the skills that you think might make you a successful NHL forward in the future?
Vela: My style of play is a 2-way power center. I am responsible in my own end and have a physical element to my game. I can also chip in offensively and help in that area of the game. Aside from the need to develop further before starting a professional career, I believe that being a responsible 2-way power center can make me successful in the future.
UNH Recruit Mike Robinson - 3rd Round Pick of San Jose Sharks
San Jose Drafts Goalie Mike Robinson in Third Round
Mike Robinson, UNH's "Goalie of the Future", has been drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. On Saturday, Robinson was seated in the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, home of the Florida Panthers, when he heard his named called. The 6'4", 200 lbs. goalie from Bedford, New Hampshire was the 86th overall pick and the 7th goalie selected in the draft.
Mike Robinson (DOB: 3/27/1997) verbally accepted an athletic scholarship offer from the University of New Hampshire last August. He has been training with Mike Buckley of Goaltending Development Services(GDS) for 10 years. Coach Buckley is the goalie development coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins and was formerly UNH's goalie coach. Robinson plans to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2016.
Over the years, UNH fans have been fortunate to watch seven UNH goalies who were NCAA All-Americans:
Rod Blackburn 1958-61 – NHL Draft began in 1963.
Cap Raeder 1972-75 – 1973 NHL Draft, Round 12, 167th Overall.
Jeff Levy 1990-92 – 1990 NHL Draft, Round 7, 134th Overall.
Ty Conklin 1997-2001 – Not drafted.
Mike Ayers 2000-04 – 2000 NHL Draft, Round 6, 177th Overall.
Kevin Regan 2004-08 – 2003 NHL Draft, Round 9, 277th Overall.
Brian Foster 2006-10 – 2005 NHL Draft, Round 5, 161st Overall.
Mike Robinson's selection in the 3rd Round makes him the highest, NHL-drafted goalie in UNH history.
UNH "Goalie of the Future"
Robinson is committed to play for the Junior Bruins Premiere team in the United States Premiere Hockey League next season. Last season, in his junior year in high school, Mike played every game for Lawrence Academy in the New England Prep School Hockey Conference. While the team struggled with a record of 7-16-2, Robinson posted a Save Percentage of .902 and a Goals Against Average of 3.20. In May, Robinson was drafted by the Lincoln Stars in the 7th Round of the USHL Phase II Draft. However, he did not attend Lincoln's recent Tryout Camp and does not currently plan on playing in the USHL next season. Robinson did participate in USA Hockey's Warren Strelow National Team Goaltending Camp in early May.
I had an opportunity to interview Mike, via email, about his selection in the NHL draft, his strengths, and plans for enrolling at UNH:
Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your selection in the 3rd Round of the 2015 NHL Draft. Would you describe what it was like sitting in the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida as Day 2 of the draft began?
Mike Robinson: Sitting and waiting for my name to be called was very nerve racking. I tried to stay calm through the whole process and not let myself get too nervous about waiting though.
Mike Lowry: When the NHL Central Scouting Service came out with its "Players to Watch" list last November, you were not included. Now, the San Jose Sharks have drafted you in the 3rd round and you were the 7th goalie selected - ahead of other top goalie prospects. What are some of the factors you think lead to your rapid climb up the draft ladder?
Mike Robinson: I feel very honored to be selected by such a great organization like the San Jose Sharks. And being selected by them in the 3rd round is an honor. I feel like from not being on the list in November for Central Scouting, to be drafted in the 3rd round is just a reflection of all the hard work I have put in this year. And I have my teammates at Lawrence Academy to thank, for all the hard work they put in every practice to make me better.
Lowry: Did the scouting staff of NHL clubs interview you ahead of the draft? Did you have a sense that San Jose might draft you?
Robinson: I was interviewed by Florida and Colorado down in Florida before the draft. I did have a feeling that San Jose might pick me. They had a lot of interest in me when they interviewed me, just after the season.
Lowry: What are the skills that you think might make you a successful NHL goalie in the future?
Robinson: My strengths as a goalie are that I have a big frame, being 6'4", but along with that is my athleticism in the net. Those aspects I feel set me apart from other goalies.
Lowry: Now that you've been drafted by San Jose, are you still planning to enroll at UNH in either the Fall of 2016 or 2017?
Robinson: I've talked to Coach Umile. I will be a freshman in 2016.