Widespread Conference Schedule Exemption

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Jun 202018
 

Proposed New Schedule Exemption

It is time for a new exemption in college hockey: If you play in a geographically diverse conference, all non-Alaska members can play one home series each season that can be exempted from the visitors’ schedule maximum.

The Alaska Exemption

College hockey fans generally know about “the Alaskan exemption” if you schedule games at either Alaska or Alaska-Anchorage, those games do not count against your 34-game maximum, and as such you can schedule 36 games against Division I opponents.  For men’s ice hockey, the relevant section of the 2017-18 NCAA Division I manual is 17.13.5.3 Annual Exemptions, item (i).

(i) Hawaii or Alaska.  Any games played in Hawaii or Alaska, respectively, against an active Division I member institution located in Hawaii or Alaska, by a member located outside the area in question;

which is to say that UAA and UAF can’t exempt their four games against each other.

This rule exists to maintain NCAA member school viability in far-flung locales (Puerto Rico is often included in these exemptions despite its geographic proximity to Florida).  The thinking goes that a team that makes the trip to Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico can then schedule an extra home game (or weekend), allowing it to recuperate some or all of the cost of the travel.  For the remote schools, it allows them to play a fuller Division I schedule without saddling them with a travel budget many times what their continental counterparts would require.

The Alaska Concentration

College hockey fans generally know that both UAA and UAF are in the same conference, which wasn’t the case as recently as five years ago, when the CCHA still existed and hated biscuits.  Now the WCHA has the worst far-flung travel schedule of all of the conferences, and it’s frankly not even close.  Behold:

Atlantic Hockey’s geographic midpoint is in Allegany, NY.

Atlantic Hockey Geographic Midpoint

The Big Ten’s geographic midpoint is in Climax, MI.

Big Ten Geographic Footprint

The ECAC’s geographic midpoint is in Rensselaer, NY.

ECAC Geographic Footprint

Hockey East’s geographic midpoint is Windham, NH.

Hockey East Geographic Footprint

The NCHC’s geographic midpoint is in Webb, IA.

NCHC Geographic Footprint

The WCHA’s geographic midpoint is Falcon Beach, MB.

WCHA Geographic Footprint

The Far-Flung Problem

The WCHA has all three of the longest road trips in the country: Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Huntsville.  Furthermore, all four Michigan schools are far from well-traveled airports, and Bemidji State is equidistant from Winnipeg and Minneapolis.  Only one WCHA member school — UAA — is served by a large airport with regularly scheduled flights capable of easily carrying a full hockey team and their gear.  If you travel to most any other school via air, you’ll be riding a bus for a couple of hours at minimum to and from the airport.  (Yes, this is true of Huntsville: despite being the conference’s largest metropolitan area, proximity to Atlanta, Nashville, and Birmingham means that HSV is pretty small.)

In theory, each non-Alaska WCHA school can exempt two games a season, and in some years, you get to exempt four. WCHA schools have had an issue getting home dates to make use of the exemption, largely nullifying the value of being in a conference with UAA and UAF.  The WCHA will have 63 (up to 65) non-conference games in 2018-19, and just 25 of those are at home.  The breakdown of those 25 games are: AHC (3), ASU (2), Bi7 (5), ECAC (2), HE (4), NCHC (9).  Just four of those (SCSU @ UAA 2x, CC @ UAF 2x) are exemption-sourcing games.

The availability of WCHA schools to schedule two or four extra games hasn’t proved to make it easier to get home dates.  Furthermore, the current constitution of the WCHA as the leftovers thrown into one western conference means that seven schools are saddled with the difficulties of traveling to three programs, costs that are difficult to offset without an incentive for schools to visit them (or to offer lucrative pay dates).  For the three eastern conferences: the three AHC games are with teams in the western half of the conference (MC, RMU); the HE trips are BU and Merrimack, and the ECAC trip is Cornell to NMU, which isn’t an arduous journey.  It’s telling that the two top-flight trips — BU-MSU, CU-NMU — are to teams at the top of the WCHA last season.

Proposed Solution

Simply put: Rather than a state-based solution, make it a geographic-based one.

  1. If you are at least 1,000 miles from your conference’s geographic center, you can award all visiting schools a one-series, two-game exemption from their schedule maximum.
  2. If at least half of a conference’s member schools are at least 500 miles from that conference’s geographic center, all non-Alaska schools can award one visiting school a one-series, two-game exemption from their schedule maximum.

The net effect of this proposal is as follows:

  1. Air Force and Alabama-Huntsville would additionally be able to enable visiting schools to exempt games as long as conference affiliations are in their current configuration.
  2. Atlantic Hockey and WCHA schools would become able to designate one home, non-conference series as eligible for exemption each season.

Rationale

If the goal is to increase the amount of teams playing Division I sports in general, including supporting programs outside of the traditional geographic footprints of those sports, schedule exemptions are a great way to increase travel to these far-flung member schools.  Adding Air Force and UAH to the list of schools that grant exemptions not only allows them to schedule more home games, but it allows members of their parent conferences to offset the costs of having a distant member in their midst.  The costs of travel to these distant destinations can be offset with a home weekend, but if your program struggles to get home weekends — and AHC and WCHA schools do — this gives you another arrow in your quiver.

Let us again consider this season.  Would WCHA schools be seeing just 18 games against top-four leagues, most of those between in-state teams that are long-standing foes?  If you’re Ohio State, don’t you consider a two-and-two rather than a one-and-one with BG because you could pick up another three home games out of the deal?  If you’re Western, don’t you try to play Ferris State every year?

Exemptions for all WCHA and AHC members allow them to get bigger schools to schedule them for games.  While these two leagues are pretty widespread, the hearts of each league are near hockey hotbeds, so getting exempt games generated locally will help these schools.

As for Air Force and Alabama-Huntsville, they both benefit greatly.

Air Force would cement its place in AHC, because it moving somewhere else collapses the league into a footprint centered on Binghamton, NY, one that takes the exemption away from all of those schools.  Air Force would be virtually guaranteed home games with in-state foes DU and CC every season, and it’s likely that some schools would make a Colorado trip and do single games with Air Force and either Denver or Colorado, using the exemption on the other in-Colorado game and keeping a home seris in pocket.

Alabama-Huntsville has historically struggled to get quality home opponents; its best such series came only when local boy Nic Dowd was a senior at St. Cloud and got Bob Motzko to bring him down.  A full-exemption home non-conference slate would likely see the team playing 18-20 home dates a season, which would greatly help attendance and send a message that Huntsville is a home for hockey.  UAH could even have seasons where its only road series were in conference play.

Atlantic Hockey members would benefit as well, as many of these schools are short bus rides away from HE, ECAC, and Bi7 schools, who would be much likelier to schedule road dates to those schools.

A Survey of the Distances of Each School to their Conference’s Geographic Midpoint

All distances courtesy of Daft Logic’s Distance Calculator.  They are direct-line distances between each and do not reflect road availability or travel times.

In short, four schools (Air Force, Alabama-Huntsville, Alaska-Anchorage, and Alaska) are more than 1,000 miles from their league’s geographic midpoint, and two conferences (Atlantic Hockey, WCHA) have at least half of member schools playing at least 500 miles from the geographic center.

Atlantic Hockey (average distance 648 miles, standard deviation 333 miles)

  • Air Force, 1,398 miles
  • American International, 302 miles
  • Army, 239 miles
  • Bentley, 372 miles
  • Canisius, 763 miles
  • Holy Cross, 402 miles
  • Mercyhurst, 825 miles
  • Niagara, 769 miles
  • Robert Morris, 855 miles
  • RIT, 700 miles
  • Sacred Heart, 507 miles

Big Ten (206, 157):

  • Michigan, 82 miles
  • Michigan State, 55 miles
  • Minnesota, 431 miles
  • Notre Dame, 61 miles
  • Ohio State, 199 miles
  • Penn State, 400 miles
  • Wisconsin, 215 miles

ECAC (108, 52):

  • Brown, 132 miles
  • Clarkson, 153 miles
  • Colgate, 92 miles
  • Cornell, 141 miles
  • Dartmouth, 104 miles
  • Harvard, 136 miles
  • Princeton, 165 miles
  • Quinnipiac, 97 miles
  • RPI, 6 miles
  • St. Lawrence, 153 miles
  • Union, 15 miles
  • Yale, 101 miles

Hockey East (65, 59):

  • Boston College, 33 miles
  • Boston University, 32 miles
  • Connecticut, 84 miles
  • Maine, 195 miles
  • Massachusetts, 69 miles
  • Massachusetts-Lowell, 12 miles
  • Merrimack, 11 miles
  • New Hampshire, 30 miles
  • Northeastern, 32 miles
  • Providence, 68 miles
  • Vermont, 150 miles

NCHC (398, 183):

  • Colorado College, 586 miles
  • Denver, 563 miles
  • Miami, 584 miles
  • Minnesota-Duluth, 301 miles
  • Nebraska-Omaha, 126 miles
  • North Dakota, 358 miles
  • St. Cloud State, 185 miles
  • Western Michigan, 482 miles

WCHA (877, 733):

  • Alabama-Huntsville, 1125 miles
  • Alaska-Anchorage, 2207 miles
  • Alaska, 2138 miles
  • Bemidji State, 155 miles
  • Bowling Green, 804 miles
  • Ferris State, 623 miles
  • Lake Superior, 552 miles
  • Michigan Tech, 357 miles
  • Minnesota State, 387 miles
  • Northern Michigan, 425 miles

What about realignment?

Discussions of the effects of this proposal on realignment (or realignment on this proposal) might be done at a later date.

West returns to UAH as assistant coach

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Jun 112018
 

Lance West will be back behind the UAH bench this fall, joining Mike Corbett’s staff as an assistant coach, the school announced Monday.

West was the interim head coach at Alaska last season. He was a finalist to be the permanent head coach, but Alaska hired Erik Largen, who was one of West’s assistants. West was an assistant coach at Alaska under Dallas Ferguson for nine seasons prior.

West played for the Chargers from 1991-95, scoring 113 points in 108 games.

After graduating from UAH in 1995, West served as a volunteer assistant for the Chargers from 1995-1998, when the Chargers captured two Division II national championships. He served as an assistant coach under Doug Ross from 2000 to 2007.

West takes the place of Matt Thomas, who was named director and under-18 coach for the Washington Little Capitals.

Quenneville named club team coach: Mike Quenneville, who played and coached for UAH’s varsity program, will be the head coach of the new club hockey team.

Quenneville was a two-time SECHC and ACHA Div. III Coach of the Year for the club team at Alabama, where he was head coach from 2010-16.

Quenneville played for the Chargers from 1987-89, scoring seven goals and 30 points in 53 games. He was an assistant coach for Doug Ross from 1996-98, during UAH’s two NCAA Division II national championships.

The club team is currently raising funds for its first season this fall.

WCHA gets new streaming deal: The WCHA on Monday announced a multiyear partnership with FloSports to stream every game hosted by a WCHA member institution live and on-demand.

FloSports takes the place of Stretch Internet. To watch WCHA games online, a monthly or annual pro subscription to FloHockey.tv will be required.

Hoof Beats: Teets named Academic All-District; hockey fundraisers set

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May 182018
 
John Teets

John Teets (UAH Athletics)

John Teets, a junior majoring in finance with a 4.00 GPA, represents UAH on the 2017-18 Academic All-District
Men’s At-Large Team.

The teams are selected by CoSIDA and presented by Google Cloud. Teets made the first team in District 4, which covers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and South Carolina.

First-team Academic All-District honorees advance to the Academic All-America ballot. First- and second-team Academic All-America honorees will be announced in June.

Teets played in all 37 games for the Chargers this season, scoring three goals and six assists for nine points. One of the goals was on a shorthanded breakaway that proved to be the game winner in UAH’s 4-2 win at Michigan Tech on Oct. 21. Teets was third on the team in blocks with 48.

Larson transfers: Jordan Larson, who missed most of the 2017-18 season with an injury, is transferring to Lakehead University in Ontario.

Larson, who is from Fort Frances, Ontario, moves closer to home after playing only 10 games and scoring two assists in his sophomore season. As a freshman in 2016-17, he played in all 34 games, scoring four goals and 11 points.

Larson will have three years of eligibility in CIS (the Canadian equivalent of the NCAA) and will pursue a kinesiology degree.

Frenchy Open set: The 2018 Frenchy Open, the biggest summer fundraiser for the UAH hockey program is set for June 23 at RTJ at Hampton Cove.

The golf outing fundraiser is presented by Maynards Capital Services and The Select Group.

Registration is $150 per individual and $600 per team. Hole sponsorship is $100.

Raffle prizes, door prizes, a registration gift, and hole-in-one prizes will be given away.

For more information, contact director of hockey operations Tim Flynn: 256-824-2485 or tim.flynn@uah.edu.

Club team begins fundraising: The UAH club hockey team is trying to raise funds to compete this coming season.

The club, the first at UAH since the original team was upgraded to varsity in 1985, has created a fundraiser at GoFundMe to receive donations.

The funds are needed for  ice rental, uniforms, travel, and other related costs.

Zirnis’s Mudbugs win title: The Shreveport Mudbugs, coached by UAH alumnus Karlis Zirnis, won the Robertson Cup as NAHL champions on Monday.

The Mudbugs defeated the Minot Minotaurs 2-1 in the championship game in Blaine, Minn. The game featured several players committed to WCHA teams.

Zirnis, who scored 119 points in 133 games at UAH from 1999-2003, finished his second season as the Mudbugs’ head coach.

Chargers’ 2018-19 schedule released with 16 home games; season begins Oct. 6

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May 092018
 
Christian Rajic

Christian Rajic and the Chargers open WCHA play against Lake Superior for Homecoming on Oct. 26-27. (Photo by Todd Thompson)

UAH and the WCHA released their 2018-19 schedules on Wednesday. The Chargers will play their 34th varsity season and 40th overall with 36 regular-season games, with 16 at home.

The schedule is much more balanced in terms of home and away than last season’s, which had two long road trips and two long home stands. In addition to the 28-game WCHA schedule, UAH will play eight non-conference games against six opponents.

UAH starts the season at their closest NCAA opponent, Miami, in Oxford, Ohio, on Oct. 6-7. The Chargers last faced the Redhawks toward the end of the 2011-12 season, and in the 2010 NCAA Midwest Regional semifinals before that.

UAH visits two more teams from the NCHC in Colorado the following week. First, the Chargers go to Colorado Springs to take on Colorado College on Oct. 12, then visit Denver to play the Pioneers on Oct. 13. UAH head coach Mike Corbett and assistant coach Gavin Morgan are Denver reached the NCAA tournament last season as NCHC tournament champion.

“Once again we have a very tough non-conference schedule,” Corbett said. “We need to be ready to put ourselves in position to help our league with some non-conference wins.”

The Chargers have their home opening series on Oct. 19-20, hosting Arizona State in a non-conference battle of the Sun Belt. Last season, UAH split a series with the Sun Devils in Tempe. ASU, the newest Division I program, is an independent.

Homecoming is the following weekend as UAH faces Lake Superior State to start WCHA play. Michigan Tech, which won the WCHA playoff championship in March, comes to Huntsville on Nov. 2-3 to complete a six-game home stand.

The Chargers make their only trip to Alaska with a visit to Fairbanks on Nov. 16-17. After Thanksgiving, UAH hosts Bowling Green on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, followed by trips to Bemidji State and Michigan Tech heading into the holiday break.

UAH will play in the Catamount Cup at Vermont just before New Year’s. The Chargers will face the host Catamounts on Dec. 28 and NCAA tournament participant Northeastern on Dec. 29. UAH’s only other appearance in the holiday tournament was in the 2009-10 season, when the Chargers finished in third place.

It’s conference play the entire second half of the season. The Chargers begin 2019 hosting Ferris State on Jan. 4-5, then go to Lake Superior State the next week. UAH hosts both Alaska schools to finish off January.

The Chargers will face a tough final stretch. They go to WCHA regular-season champion and NCAA tournament participant Minnesota State on Feb. 1-2, then host WCHA playoff finalist Northern Michigan on Feb. 8-9. After a week off, UAH will need to withstand the Dawg Pound of Ferris State and the Bleacher Creatures of Bowling Green to finish the regular season.

“We have some good rest dates and will have to win some games on the road down the stretch,” Corbett said.

Official releases: UAH | WCHA

2018-19 UAH Hockey Schedule

Home games in bold.
* WCHA game.

Oct. 6-7 at Miami
Oct. 12 at Colorado College
Oct. 13 at Denver
Oct. 19-20 vs. Arizona State
Oct. 26-27 vs. Lake Superior* (Homecoming)
Nov. 2-3 vs. Michigan Tech*
Nov. 16-17 at Alaska*
Dec. 1-2 vs. Bowling Green*
Dec. 7-8 at Bemidji State*
Dec. 14-15 at Michigan Tech*
Dec. 28 at Vermont (Catamount Cup)
Dec. 29 vs. Northeastern (Catamount Cup)
Jan. 4-5 vs. Ferris State*
Jan. 11-12 at Lake Superior*
Jan. 18-19 vs. Alaska Anchorage*
Jan. 25-26 vs. Alaska*
Feb. 1-2 at Minnesota State*
Feb. 8-9 vs. Northern Michigan*
Feb. 22-23 at Ferris State*
March 1-2 at Bowling Green*
March 8-10 WCHA Quarterfinals (best-of-3)
March 15-17 WCHA Semifinals (best-of-3)
March 23 WCHA Championship
March 29-31 NCAA Regionals
April 11 & 13 NCAA Frozen Four (Buffalo)

Season Recap: 2018-2019 Recruiting Class

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Apr 262018
 

With the USHL recently wrapping up its regular season, it’s time to recap the seasons of all the future Chargers. In this piece, we’ll focus on the incoming 2018-19 recruiting class, which recently grew with the commitments of defensemen Dayne Finnson, Bailey Newton, and Simon Chen. All in all, another solid recruiting class for Coach Mike Corbett:

Forwards

Bauer Neudecker, 5’7, 160, 1998, St. Louis Park, MN, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) – Following a mid-season trade to Sioux City from Dubuque, Neudecker really took off. In 36 games with Sioux City, he put up over a point per game with five goals and 15 assists, improving his point totals to conclude the season with a respectable 60/5/21/26 slash-line on a below-average Sioux City team. All things considered, his numbers really don’t reflect how good of a season he had. Buried on the depth chart in Dubuque and flanked by younger and less experienced players in Sioux City, Neudecker became a legitimate force in the country’s top junior league by season’s end. His speed, hockey IQ, and creativity served him well in his first (and only) full season of junior hockey, and suggest he’ll continue to get better as he gets bigger and stronger. I expect him to step into a top-nine role immediately and be asked to contribute offensively to a team that’ll have lost its top three point getters up front. Arguably the crown jewel of this recruiting class, Neudecker’s signing is major boon for the program – akin to Max McHugh’s four years earlier. He’s a leader who’ll quickly become a fan favorite.

Jack Jeffers

Jack Jeffers, 6’0, 185, 1997, Oakville, Ontario, Markham Royals (OJHL) – Jeffers had a superb final season of junior hockey scoring 23 goals, 56 assists, and 79 points in 54 games played – good for fifth overall in the OJHL. He was a fixture on Markham’s top line all season long and factored heavily in the team’s success. After he suffered an injury during Markham’s second playoff game, the squad was quickly eliminated from contention. A Second Team OJHL All-Star, Jeffers still exhibits many of the same attributes that had him on NHL Central Scouting’s radar in 2016: exceptional speed, lateral quickness, offensive instincts, and playmaking ability. These skills, combined with four years of high-level junior hockey experience, should result in a quick transition to college hockey. Like Neudecker, he’ll be counted on to help fill the void left by departing seniors Josh Kestner, Tyler Poulsen, and Brennan Saulnier.

Tyr Thompson, 6’0, 180, 1998, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Whitecourt Wolverines (AJHL) – The long-time commit will finally be heading south this fall following three successful seasons in the AJHL. In 2017-2018, he had 16 goals, 30 assists, and 46 points in 54 regular-season games to go along with a goal, seven assists, and eight points in 14 playoff games for a strong Whitecourt team.  Tyr, who is originally from Alberta, played youth hockey all across the continent as his father, Rocky, a former NHL tough-guy and current head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, worked his way up the coaching ladder. The ever-changing hockey melting pot that he grew up in is reflected in his play: He’s a versatile playmaker who does everything well and can contribute up and down the lineup. As the son of a former enforcer and current coach, it should not come as a surprise that he also has a good hockey IQ and an edge to his game when needed. I anticipate Tyr will be a jack-of-all-trades for Coach Corbett, providing a steady presence both on the ice and in the locker room.

Ben Allen, 5’9, 170, 1997, Allen, TX, Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) – The Texan began the season with the vaunted Penticton Vees in the BCHL, but was traded midseason to the Melfort Mustangs, a team in the neighboring SJHL, where he’d get more playing time. The trade paid dividends, as Allen plotted seven goals and seven assists in 16 games down the stretch for Melfort. He’s another guy whose got a high hockey IQ, really understands the game, and can skate. Similar to Tyr Thompson – who was ironically a teammate of Allen’s in minor hockey – his versatility, leadership qualities, and mature approach make him a welcome addition to the 2018-19 Charger squad.

Defensemen

Dayne Finnson, 5’10, 190, 1997, Arborg, Manitoba, Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL) – Make no bones about it, after losing three of his top six defensemen, Coach Corbett had to sign an impact defenseman who could step in and play top-four minutes. Fortunately, he was able to do just that when he secured Dayne Finnson’s commitment back in March. Finnson, a farm boy from rural Manitoba, plotted an impressive 41 points, including five goals and 36 assists, in 56 games played for the Victoria Grizzlies in the BCHL. His point total was first among defensemen on the Grizzlies, and good for sixth overall in the entire league. He continued his strong play on into the postseason, with two goals, five assists, and seven points in 12 playoff games before the Grizzles were eliminated in the second round.  In sum, this past season was Finnson’s second with the Grizzlies, who brought him out west following a 2-year stint of prep hockey with the New England powerhouse Salisbury School in Connecticut. An excellent skater with good vision and a strong first pass, Finnson will remind many Charger fans of outgoing senior Brandon Parker given his stature and ability to jump up into the play from the back end. Don’t let his height fool you, though: Finnson is tough as nails and can dish out absolutely bone-crushing hits like this one back in November of 2016:

 

Drew Lennon, 6’2, 180, 1998, Bloomington, IL, Lone Star Brahmas (NAHL) – Given the Chargers’ aforementioned need for defensemen, it likely came as a huge relief to the coaching staff when Lennon announced his commitment to UAH towards the beginning of the season. As noted when he first committed, Lennon, who is originally from Illinois, has played junior hockey all over North America these past few years. After a year in Connecticut playing for the Connecticut Oilers (EHL), Lennon went to the opposite coast with Prince George in the BCHL in ’16-17, and then to Texas this season. Regardless of where Lennon’s gone, he’s put up solid numbers and continued to improve. Although the two goals, 16 assists, and 18 points he notched for Lone Star in 58 games this year may not jump off the page, they’re pretty good considering the shutdown role he often played for his team. In keeping with the theme of this class, Lennon is also a strong skater who works hard and plays a heady game. As one scout put it, “his value lies behind the red line,” but he still has some serious upside offensively. It’ll be up to Coach Corbett and whoever replaces Matty Thomas as the defensive assistant coach to unlock Lennon’s offensive potential. In any event, expect Lennon to get playing time early and often as a freshman.

Bailey Newton, 5’11, 190, 1998, Halton Hills, Ontario, Oakville Blades (OJHL) – Newton, a physical blueliner who served as Oakville’s captain this past season, recently pledged his commitment to UAH where he’ll be reunited with former Blade Christian Rajic. Widely lauded for his work ethic, leadership qualities, and character, Newton is bona fide defensive defenseman who does a lot of little things on the ice that are necessary for a hockey team to be successful. The former draft pick of the OHL’s Erie Otters shadows other teams’ top players, kills penalties, and stands up for his teammates, as evidenced by the 124 PIMs that he piled up during the regular season. He wasn’t tasked with being an offensive contributor, and his goal, 16 assists, and 17 points in 53 games reflect that. However, Newton could very well develop into more of an offensive threat, as he – like everyone else in this recruiting class – is a good skater with ample hockey smarts. Hockey abilities notwithstanding, this is a kid who’s been team captain just about everywhere he’s played and is revered by both teammates and coaches alike. There’s no reason to think that won’t be the case in college.

Simon Chen, 5’10, 180, 1997, Beijing, China, Cowichan Valley Capitals (BCHL) – This kid has to have the most unique background of any UAH recruit, ever. Born in China, Chen played minor hockey there until his desire to develop his game exceeded his country’s limited hockey resources. Not knowing that New England prep schools typically recruit their players, he enrolled at the Brooks School and ended up being the only “walk-on” to make the team. Later, after playing for a couple of different U18 teams in the Northeast, he headed out to British Columbia to play for the Cowichan Valley Capitals in the BCHL, where he spent the past two seasons. After his first season with Cowichan, he was invited to attend the Vancouver Canucks Development Camp, where he got a chance to compete with a number of top NHL draft picks and prospects, as well as share his unique hockey background with a larger audience.

His 52/2/9/11 line this year belies the improvements he made in his second season of junior hockey. And given the fact that Chen has really only played top-flight hockey for a few years, he’s got a tremendous amount of room to grow as a player. It’ll be fun to watch him get better, and, hopefully, achieve his goal of playing for China in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. For more detailed info on Chen’s background, check out these other pieces done on him:

That all for this year’s incoming recruiting class. Stay tuned for a write-up about UAH commits for 2019-20 and beyond.