It was a roller-coaster of emotions for Junior Bruins goalie T.J. Semptimphelter as March ended and April began.
First, he and his Junior Bruins took a tough semifinal loss in the NCDC Championship Series in Pittston, Pa., on March 27. The sting of that defeat, however, was soon diminished a bit when Semptimphelter had a whirlwind week of talking with the Northeastern University coaching staff and ultimately committing to the Huskies for this coming 2021-22 as Easter weekend began.
“For me, it came out of the blue. Northeastern had reached out to [Junior Bruins Head Coach Mike] Anderson during playoffs. Right after playoffs, Mike had told me Northeastern was really interested and I had a call with Coach Keefe [Northeastern Associate Head Coach Jerry Keefe],” said Semptimphelter, a 2002-born native of Marlton, N.J. “The very next thing was a Zoom call with Head Coach [Jim] Madigan, Coach Keefe and [Assistant] Coach Mike McLaughlin. Then I committed and I’m going this fall.”
Anderson was certainly happy for the Junior Bruins’ No. 1 goaltender, who continued the long-standing tradition of the organization’s top creaseminder moving to the Division I ranks.
“I am very excited for T.J. and his family. He was a leader for us and, like so many players this year, battled through adversity from start to finish,” Anderson said. “COVID, rink shutdowns, no locker rooms, etc. This season was especially hard on goalies who really thrive on structure for their timing and overall development, and he’s tougher on and off the ice as a result of his experience this year.
“I am very excited to see T.J. compete at Northeastern and I know he will represent himself and our program very well,” Anderson added. “Congratulations to T.J. and everyone in Junior Bruins country is wishing him lots of success at the next level.”
He had also heard about Northeastern from former NU goalie Cayden Primeau, now playing for the Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate the Laval Rocket. Both were from the same southern New Jersey area, and both played for Team Comcast as youth players.
“I train with Cayden, and he talked about the Northeastern program and I am just so excited to go there,” added Semptimphelter. He will enroll in Northeastern’s business school, one of the top in the Northeastern U.S.
“There’s obviously so much to love about Northeastern, with the amazing hockey school that they are, and I’m also very interested in business,” he said. “I began watching highlights of all these great games, like the Huskies winning the Beanpot [three straight between 2018 and 2020]. I know there’s a lot of work ahead before I get there.”
He’s seen a lot of work already in preparing for his college hockey future. He finished second in games played in the NCDC, playing 30 games for the Junior Bruins. He also tied for first in wins at 21, with the Rockets Hockey Club’s Aidan Harper (UMass-Lowell) and the South Shore Kings’ Evan Szary (Army).
“I developed a lot this year. With the guys we had coming back, like Ian Carpentier [Yale] and everyone we picked up, it was obvious that the NCDC was getting even stronger. Seeing guys like Colin Graf [Union] and so many talented players every practice, every lift, every game, I was getting pushed every day,” said Semptimphelter. “It was a very good experience for me. The USPHL did a very good job with everyone coming in this year.
“I think the key to my game is just competing, it’s hard to change that. Every game, every practice, I just want to compete and give 110 percent,” he added. “I feel I’m very quick in the crease, and a very good puck-handler, which helped our team get out of our zone quicker and more efficiently. With all the 2-on-1’s and 3-on-2’s in practice, that helped me so much with the speed and pace of the game.”
“He got close to 40 starts this year and that’s a testament to his consistency and everyone’s commitment to making hockey possible for our players,” Anderson said. “He’s technically sound and makes athletic saves. We had a young team this year and there were a lot of games when he needed to make a save or two to keep the momentum for us or turn it in our favor, and he answered that bell almost every time.”
After a busy and intense season, Semptimphelter reflected on how he and the Junior Bruins first became acquainted.
“Coach Anderson sent me an e-mail just saying ‘I would love for you to look into our program.’ Then, their former goalie Thomas Gale [Holy Cross] reached out to me and told me how amazing the experience was for him, and it obviously worked out really well for him,” said Semptimphelter. “I sat down with my family, my advisor and my goalie coach and we ultimately decided the Junior Bruins was the way to go. Everyone there, from Coach Anderson and Coach Butler, Peter and Chris Masters, they all do such a great job. I’m just super grateful for everything that we’ve accomplished.”
He’ll get a chance in the future to accomplish more alongside at least two of these teammates. Cameron Lund and Jackson Dorrington were among the most talented 2004-born players in the NCDC this year, and both are slated to join Semptimphelter at Northeastern in 2022.
“They are both unbelievable kids and talented players. They both reached out to me right after the news came out and were super excited, as am I to play behind Lund and Dorrington in the future,” said Semptimphelter. “I can’t wait to rejoin them at Northeastern.”
The USPHL congratulates T.J. Semptimphelter, his family, the Boston Junior Bruins and Northeastern University for his commitment.