Kevin Golden will be moving one state to the west next year, when he begins his NCAA college hockey career with the Middlebury College Panthers in Vermont.
Golden, a 2002-born native of Reading, Mass., made his commitment in early December to the school that competes in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). He is a defenseman for the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs NCDC team, playing 26 games this season so far, offensively producing one goal and six points.
“I first started talking with Middlebury after attending their Prospect Camp this past summer, and the conversation continued through this fall,” said Golden. “I think the coaches at Middlebury liked my hockey sense and my reach as a taller defenseman.”
The 6-foot-5-inch, 190-pound Golden certainly likes that winning is the expectation at Middlebury. This is a program that once won five straight NCAA Division III championships between 1995 and 1999 - and then won three in a row from 2004 to 2006. The program, which hits its 100th anniversary year in 2022, has an all-time winning percentage of .595.
“There are a lot of things to like about Middlebury, but what stood out to me the most was the winning tradition they have, and how much the community supports the hockey team,” he added. “Academically, it is also one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country, which catches your eye right away.
“When I visited Middlebury, I came away extremely impressed. The athletic facilities are second to none in D-III and the small school atmosphere and the tight-knit community fit exactly what I was looking for academically,” Golden said. The coaching staff, athletic facilities, and mix between great academics and athletics made Middlebury an easy choice for me.”
Golden plans on pursuing an Economics degree at Middlebury, adding that “the business world is something I’d like to get involved with after I graduate.”
Golden’s first involvement with the Monarchs came back in 2018-19, when he played for their USPHL 16U squad. He scored six points in 29 regular season games, and added an assist in three playoff games.
“The Monarchs organization as a whole is like a family, and the coaches have been awesome to me in my time playing here. My Dad was an assistant with the Monarchs when I was growing up, so it’s been pretty cool to climb the ladder and go full circle with the organization from being a little kid hanging out with the junior team and idolizing those guys, to playing on the NCDC team myself,” he said. “Playing 16U with the Monarchs in the USPHL was a huge turning point in my hockey career, playing against the top teams and players in the country every week.”
Golden has developed into a top two-way defenseman, but is especially strong in his own end, where he has put himself in the way of 25 shots, leading his team in blocked shots.
“Playing for the Monarchs has been great for my development. I’ve been able to play in all situations this year which has helped round out my game as a whole and allowed for me to find my identity as a player,” said Golden. “Playing in the NCDC has been a great experience so far. The pace is very fast and there is a high level of parity in the league, so every game has been a close hard-fought battle until the very end.”
There’s still slightly less than half a season remaining for the Monarchs, and Golden will use every moment on and off the ice until next fall to improve his game towards the goal of becoming a top choice for the Panthers to put out in key situations right off the bat.
“I have to work on all aspects of my game before I arrive on campus next fall, but this off-season, I am definitely going to put some emphasis on improving my physical strength and my skating ability to prepare for the older competition and the Olympic ice sheet at Middlebury,” added Golden.
The USPHL congratulates Kevin Golden, his family, the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs and Middlebury College for his commitment.