The call came a bit late - mid-August, with school less than a couple weeks away - but it was one of the best calls former Connecticut Jr. Ranger Troy Kobryn ever received.
Merrimack College, an NCAA Division 1 institution in North Andover, Mass., had an opening for a goalie and were interested in bringing Kobryn into the Warriors’ fold. A couple days later - over the second August weekend - he made his commitment to the Warriors.
“I’m really happy, it’s a dream come true to play for a Hockey East school and Merrimack is a great program,” said Kobryn, a ‘99 from Hillsborough, N.J. “I’m looking forward to competing for a hockey east and hopefully national championship.
“It was kind of out of the blue. Last week they reached out, and I decided to accept the offer,” said Kobryn. “They said the’d watched me numerous times.”
Kobryn was a member of the Rangers in the NCDC throughout the 2017-18 season and in the early portions of this season, before being called up to Tier 1 hockey. During his season and a half in Connecticut, he registered a .922 save percentage and a 3.12 goals against average.
“I think [this commitment] is a long time coming for him. Troy is a tireless worker, his work ethic is off the chart,” said Rangers head coach Jim Henkel. “It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, he puts his time in in the gym, puts his time into preparation and on the ice.”
There isn’t much time before Kobryn reports at the end of this month on campus. He knows the college commitment is just the start of a marathon involving lots of time in the gym, on the ice and in the classroom.
“I just have to keep working hard. I’ve applied and done all of that, so now I just have to focus on the hockey part and working hard every day and competing, and focus on getting a spot on the team and then getting playing time,” Kobryn added.
Kobryn had nothing but high praise for his Rangers coaches, both Henkel and Vincent Montalbano.
“They were great coaches and great people. They gave me a chance two years ago when no one else would give me a chance,” Kobryn said. “That kind of led me to everything else. Everything is great about the program, from the coaches to the facilities to how they run the program on a day-to-day basis.”
Henkel got to see firsthand just how much Kobryn can set the tone not just in one game, but over a whole weekend.
“We went to the Jersey Hitmen’s Ice Vault and took three of four points, which is virtually impossible,” said Henkel. “He stopped 52 of 53 shots in our 2-1 win, then stopped another 40-plus shots including the shootout in a shootout loss. He’s a great kid from a great family, and I think he still has some really good years ahead of him.”
Kobryn expects to hit the books hard right away, and is planning on a mathematics/economics major when he gets to campus. Everything will be new for him, but that’ll be the story for the majority of the 2019-20 Warriors.
“The team’s trending in the right direction, and with 16 freshmen this season, all good players, Merrimack is going to be good for years to come,” said Kobryn. “Coach [Scott] Borek is a great coach, very enthusiastic, and he wants to get the best out of all his players.”