Within Michigan, Kalamazoo to Plymouth is a straight two-hour drive on Interstate 94.
So you can understand why the Kalamazoo-based Western Michigan University Broncos hockey coaches would make it a point to scout the Tier 1 15 Only National Championships in Plymouth to check out future prospects.
One player, the New Jersey Rockets 15U’s Gleb Veremyev, so impressed the Broncos that after a few days, Veremyev committed for the 2022-23 season to Western Michigan.
“It all happened so quickly, all right there at Nationals,” said Veremyev, an ‘03 forward from Somerville, N.J., who scored 43 points in 21 USPHL 15U regular season games. “Obviously, I went there in hopes of winning Nationals with the Rockets. I was really hoping to win, but I committed there, so I’ll take that.”
Veremyev and his family did their research in a short time, and Veremyev said he loved the campus and saw that the school was strong academically. To top it all off, the Broncos play in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, home to the last three National Champions and a pair of 2019 Frozen Four teams, as well.
“The team had a great [3-1] run at Nationals, which enabled Gleb to show well and play well,” said Rockets head coach Noel Rubin. “We both agreed that Western Michigan being in the top college hockey conference would be a great conference to play in. They didn’t have a lot of players of his caliber - a physical, big, left winger - and he ended up being a really good fit.”
Indeed, Veremyev has a big frame for his age, standing 6-feet-3.5-inches and weighing in at 150 pounds. As aforementioned, he uses his size to produce offense in vast amounts at his age level, and he also produced a goal and an assist in three games up with the Rockets’ 16U team.
“I use my size to my advantage. I feel like Evgeni Malkin is a good comparison - using your size, playing physical while also being a playmaker,” said Veremyev. “I feel like I’m a hard worker in practice. It’s hard to out-compete me.”
“Gleb is a strong, two-way player who is hard on the puck, and has excellent hockey sense down below the dots,” said Coach Rubin. “He plays a mean, tough, two-way game.”
Veremyev said he understands that the masses might cry that making a commitment as a 15-year-old is too early, but he sees it as terrific motivation for his future.
“With the offer I got at Western and for me, I can’t say anything bad about it. I have to keep working every year, and it shows my commitment as both a player and as a student until I reach that school,” said Veremyev. “My goal is first to play for the Rockets’ 16U team next season, then [Tier-1 junior hockey] and then I’m going to show Western Michigan what I have.”
Veremyev’s hockey path has already taken him to a few destinations, but with the Rockets, he’s found a happy home.
“My family and I moved when I was 6. We were living in Brooklyn, N.Y., so I started out with the New York Aviators, then I played for the Ducks, Stars, Titans and Colonials before joining the Rockets,” he added. “This year’s team was really amazing. It starts with the Rockets’ owners, they’re a great family - anything you ever needed, ice time or extra time in the gym, they were there for us.
“Coach Noel Rubin is the best coach I’ve played for so far,” Veremyev added. “With a coach like that and a team like we had, we were close-knit. We came up short in the USPHL finals [in February], but that was good for us in the end. We went back and defeated North Jersey in the District finals, then went 3-0 at Nationals before facing the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies [in the National semifinals]. We felt we dominated the game, but they just got the lucky bounces. The Hockey gods were on their side, I don’t feel bad about it. Our season was just remarkable.”
The USPHL congratulates Gleb Veremyev, his family, and the New Jersey Rockets on his NCAA Division 1 college commitment to Western Michigan University.