Glen Allen, Va., native Luke Babilon has spent almost his entire teenage years in the United States Premier Hockey League.
His first year in the league was all the way back in 2015-16 with the Potomac Patriots’ 16U Futures (now USPHL 15U) team. Now, after two years with the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes (and three years in Atlanta in between), Babilon is officially NCAA Hockey-bound, having committed earlier this week to King’s College, of WIlkes-Barre, Pa.
“I began talking with King’s Coach Tom Seravalli at the league’s National Championships after our big win against the Toledo Cherokee to advance us to the semifinals,” said Babilon, who committed to King’s on his 21st birthday, and just over a month after the Jr. Hurricanes season ended in the USPHL Premier National Semifinals. “King’s College has a great foundation for academic success. I really like the small class sizes and that every professor there is a PhD. My favorite thing about the staff, facilities and program at King’s is the culture they have been building.
“The vision created by the new coaching staff has instilled the importance of competing every day and winning,” added Babilon. “All of this will contribute to our success next year along with the work they have put in recruiting.”
Babilon knows an awful lot about putting in work - he has put in the work through a total of 235 regular season and 15 playoff games at the USPHL 15U, USPHL Elite and USPHL Premier levels since 2015. Even prior to becoming an official USPHL player, he played with USPHL Member Organization the Richmond Generals as a 14-year-old on their EJEPL 16U team. (His Generals’ 16U teammate Zac Jones just recently won the NCAA Division I National Championship with the University of Massachusetts and has put together a burgeoning young NHL career with the New York Rangers.)
In 2016, Babilon became a junior player with the former USP3 - now USPHL Elite - Atlanta Jr. Kings, a franchise that would later become the Atlanta Mad Hatters. His coach then - and right until the end of his 2020-21 season - was Kevin St. Jacques.
“I have developed many great relationships, whether I played with or against people for years,” said Babilon. “I was fortunate to play under Coach St. Jacques for all five of my years. It was a test every night playing in the Southeast Division against very talented adversaries.”
Babilon has become a steady player for all three of his USPHL Premier seasons, scoring between 30 and 35 points each year over three seasons in Atlanta and Carolina. He attributes his development into an NCAA player to working with Coach St. Jacques and the rest of the Carolina staff.
“There are so many positive things I could say about the program in Carolina. We have a lot of resources thanks to the funding of our owner Jocelyn Langlois,” said Babilon. “In my opinion, our coaching is unparalleled in this league. Our coaches, Kevin St. Jacques and Brad Gaylord, have a plethora of in-game expertise. They also go the extra mile to make sure everyone is succeeding off of the ice in school, and treat us as if we are their younger brothers. In addition, both of them preached a ‘next man up’ mentality which allowed us to come out on top in tons of close games. We were lucky enough to work with Joe Pearson of The Strength Feed. Lastly, we had an impressive and extensive staff, including Courtnie Gaylord and Nick Bond, that supported us whether at home or on the road.”
During the Jr. Canes’ seven-game playoff run, including four Nationals contests, Babilon was among the leading scorers, posting two goals and six assists for eight points, possibly his best performance in his six-year USPHL career.
“I feel my biggest improvements this year consisted of my playmaking and vision on the ice,” he said. “I had the luxury of practicing against our skilled squad day in and day out which forced me to make smart decisions faster.”
Smart decisions will have to be the norm at the NCAA level - both on the ice and in the classroom. Babilon is excited to take both of these “games” to the next level.
“I plan on majoring in mathematics in the hopes of becoming an actuary in the future,” he added.
The USPHL congratulates Luke Babilon, his family, the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes and King’s College for his NCAA commitment.