Once Coleman Jenkins saw the writing on the wall - with the help of Boston Junior Bruins Head Coach Mike Anderson - his college hockey destiny was written as well.
Jenkins, an ‘03 out of Mansfield, Mass., had been waiting for his prep school team to announce its return-to-play plan, but when October came around, there was still no word on a season. He had talked to Coach Anderson during the summer, and knew the Junior Bruins were in the end the best option for him. After 28 combined regular season and playoff games with the Junior Bruins, Jenkins has committed to the NCAA Division I program at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
“Coach Anderson saw [the cancelation of the prep season] from a mile away. I realized he was a man of his word and texted him, and he gave me the opportunity to join the team,” said Jenkins. “It was a great opportunity because everyone [i.e. college coaches were] watching a few leagues and the NCDC was one of them.”
Incoming Holy Cross Head Coach Bill Riga - who was the Junior Bruins’ Assistant Coach and Director of Recruiting from 1996-2003 - was certainly one of those coaches watching the Junior Bruins and in particular Jenkins.
“They reached out in midseason with the old coaching staff. Bill Riga saw a list of recruits from the old coaching staff and they reached out to me about a week later. After that, we just went through the process,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins was a strong all-around performer for the Junior Bruins, posting six goals and six assists for 12 points in 26 regular season games.
“Coach Riga sees more scoring potential from me. He feels like that’s in my game. I just have to get more reps and become more of a scorer,” said Jenkins. “I also have a good stick in the defensive zone, and a quick release as well. I feel like Coach Riga is going to bring a new way to Holy Cross, especially after his success as Associate Head Coach at Quinnipiac. He expects to win and see a rise in the program the next few years. I’m excited for that.”
Moving to Holy Cross in Worcester, Jenkins won’t have to travel far from his Mansfield home - and only a few more miles down I-290 from the Junior Bruins’ home in Marlborough. He is excited to join the Holy Cross campus community and find his educational passion there.
“It’s in the city of Worcester, and you expect a city campus, but it’s a very nice, compact campus that makes it feel like one community,” he said. “The academics are second to none and it’s one of the top 50 schools. After going there, I’ll have a set life for after hockey, whenever that ends. Holy Cross really sets you up with their alumni program.”
He will be a valued alumni of the Junior Bruins and USPHL when he advances to this next chapter in his hockey and educational career. He certainly appreciated the USPHL’s dedication to keeping the NCDC season going through the Hub City Tampa event. There, the Junior Bruins joined all 12 of their fellow NCDC teams in playing for six weeks in Florida. In Florida, he even had the extra added bonus of playing in the NCDC NHL Prospects Game and scoring a goal in that amazing event.
“At first, we were wondering ‘Will we have to shut down?’ But then once COVID-19 got going, I was busy 24-7 and that was the best part for me, still being in class [online],” said Jenkins. “With COVID, I didn’t want to let my mind wander. The USPHL had it all scheduled and structured.”
With the Junior Bruins, Jenkins felt like he certainly improved in every facet of the game, from IQ to speed.
“I feel like I’ve gotten faster and better on my skates. I was definitely playing with better guys, so there was more physicality, better plays, quicker decisions,” said Jenkins. “It was pretty nice to see the quick side of my game and decision-making improve.
“Before I go to Holy Cross, I definitely want to work on my puck protection, get more of an accurate shot and you can always work on the hockey IQ,” he added.
While the Junior Bruins certainly helped make his NCAA Division I commitment happen, he was already a USPHL alumni even before pulling on the Black and Gold jersey. In 2018-19, Jenkins played a full USPHL 16U season with the South Shore Kings.
“That’s a great program. Upstairs [at Foxboro Sports Center], they have Edge Performance Systems [dry-land training facility], and that was the best way to develop physically and strengthen my game overall,” said Jenkins. “Skating three to four times a week there was also beneficial to developing my overall game.”
The USPHL congratulates Coleman Jenkins, his family, the Boston Junior Bruins and the College Of The Holy Cross for his commitment.