Johnny Mulera has unfinished business with the Junior Bruins as the 2019-20 USPHL season approaches.
That’s saying a lot, coming from the guy who scored the title-winning goal in the Dineen Cup Final to give the Junior Bruins the 2019 NCDC championship. It just goes to show how much he wants to improve his game, continue to grow with his teammates, and extend a winning tradition with the team based out of Marlborough, Mass.
He’s also going to be molding his game into that of an NCAA Division 1 player for when he arrives at the University of Connecticut to join the Huskies in the fall of 2020. Mulera committed to UConn this summer.
“Going into a third season, it’s already been a really fun and good two years,” said Mulera, a 1999-born native of Rockville, Md. “The Junior Bruins have definitely helped develop my game. I’ve loved all my teammates and everyone I’ve met there. It’s definitely an organization that knows how to win.”
Mulera, who has also played in the past for USPHL organizations the Skipjacks Hockey Club and Eastern Mass. Senators, was an NCDC All-Star in 2018-19.
He finished as the tuition-free division’s goal-scoring champion with 27 tallies through 49 regular season games. That doesn’t include the four additional goals he scored in eight playoff games, including the big one at 13:48 of the second period on April 1, Game 3 of the Dineen Cup finals.
“I just remember I found space, went right in the slot and shot it,” Mulera added. “People made really nice plays that game. We had really good players making good plays all over the ice.”
“I think Johnny has tremendous puck skills,” said Junior Bruins head coach Mike Anderson, himself a UConn (Class of 2001) graduate. “Whether it’s at the junior hockey or college level, there are very few players that have an opportunity every time they touch the puck to have a scoring chance, and Johnny is one of those players.
“Johnny’s goal for this year is to get himself a little bigger and stronger, protect the puck a little more on the wing in order to better deal with the bigger and stronger guys on the half-wall,” Anderson added. “He has a great first two steps and is super-skilled.”
Being a third-year player in this coming 2019-20 season, Mulera’s skill and work ethic made him a top choice for a leadership role. He will wear an “A” as alternate captain this year.
“That’s definitely a nice thing to have,” said Mulera. “It feels good. I think we have a lot of good returners on the team that can be leaders. I won’t take it lightly. I’ll work hard and push myself every day and push my teammates.”
Mulera added he is truly excited to spend this year preparing for his future in NCAA Division 1 hockey with the Huskies.
“It feels nice. I just really love the coaches and the awesome campus at UConn, and they have great facilities. They care a lot about hockey there,” Mulera said. “They came out and watched me a few times last season and I started talking to them this summer a few months ago. I visited campus, and then I committed.”
“He came to me towards the end of the year and felt he wasn’t completely sure of where he was at [in terms of going to college],” said Anderson. “We wanted to find an opportunity that would be a good fit for the type of player he is. UConn presented itself, and he was really excited about it.”
There’s a lot of excitement overall, as the season begins for the Junior Bruins in one month - they drop the puck on Sept. 14 in Utica against the Utica Jr. Comets, a week before raising the Dineen Cup banner prior to their home opener at the BJB Shootout.