Harrison Chesney’s final NCDC season was over when he got some of the greatest news of the year: Chesney is headed to an NCAA Division I hockey career at Northeastern University in the heart of Boston, Mass.
The road to this good news didn’t begin to get paved until very recently.
“Northeastern first approached me towards the end of the season. It was a rare opportunity for me, with two of their three goaltenders from the year prior leaving,” said Chesney, a 2001-born native of Malverne, N.Y., who completed his second season with the NCDC’s P.A.L. Jr. Islanders. “I was high on their recruiting list at the goaltending position, and when they found out about the two goaltenders not returning, they gave me a call.
Chesney finished his second NCDC season with the Jr. Islanders with a 2.73 goals against average and a .926 save percentage, third best in the Tier II league. In 25 games, he went 12-11-1-1. All of this piqued the interest of the Huskies staff.
“After speaking with the coaching staff, they spoke very highly of my technically sound game, my compete level in the net, and my positive attitude on and off the ice,” he added.
On the other side, Chesney was certainly excited about what he learned in terms of life at Northeastern University, both on the ice and in the classroom.
“Northeastern University is not only a prestigious hockey school but it is also an excellent academic university,” said Chesney. “That is definitely something that stood out to me when the coaching staff expressed interest in me and my game. The facilities are very similar to NHL caliber and I feel I can best improve my game at Northeastern University under a great staff, an excellent program, and professional facilities.”
Northeastern occupies a swath of downtown Boston busy with museums, cafes and a Green Line subway that can take you into the heart of the historic Massachusetts capital city.
“When I visited the campus, I thought it was amazing. I really liked how the campus was in the middle of the city of Boston. It was a nice day on campus when I went to visit, so all of the students were out and about roaming around campus and just hanging out enjoying the nice weather. That was definitely something that appealed to me,” said Chesney. “Coach [Jerry] Keefe, Coach [Mike] Levine, and Coach [Mike] McLaughlin made me feel like a top recruit on my official visit, and someone they were very excited to have to be a part of such a great program. That is what made my commitment decision so easy. I am so excited to play for this staff in the fall of 2022.”
So, just what kind of goaltender will the Huskies be getting?
“For me, the biggest thing is confidence. It is so important to play with confidence and the belief in yourself to win a game for your team,” he added. “Over my last two years with P.A.L., it was easy for me to have confidence in my game because I was lucky to have multiple years of skilled and physical defenseman in front of me, with forwards who were always willing to lay their bodies on the line to block a shot for me.
“Personally, I like to approach each start with the mindset that I will control what I can control, and have confidence and belief in my teammates to do their job for the team,” he added.
Chesney began with the Jr. Islanders’ NCDC team in 2020-21, coming off a season with the Westchester Express. That had followed a season with the Jr. Islanders’ 18U team as well, in 2018-19. He’s enjoyed working with Head Coach Mike Marcou as the Jr. Islanders enjoyed playoff seasons in both his years there.
“There are definitely many different things I’ll miss about my time with P.A.L. I’ve made friendships and memories over these past two years that will stick with me for a lifetime. Playing for P.A.L. was a brotherhood and that’s something I’ll definitely miss. Going out to eat with the guys and hanging out in the locker room before practice is something underrated that I’ll miss.
“Over my three total years with P.A.L., I was blessed to have such great coaching. From Bob Thornton and Eric Conway, to Tony Samms, Mike Orth, and Rudy Sulmonte, to Mike Marcou, Bobby Goepfert, Frank Dichiara, and Luciano Bucci, I was constantly surrounded by people who knew the game and truly cared about their players,” said Chesney. “Although I have grown physically, I believe that the mental side of my game has grown exponentially. Physically, I believe I was able to tie together my big frame with speed in the crease, which has helped my game in a huge way.”
It may seem like a long way to Boston’s Huntington Ave. in late summer from where he stands now here in April, but it’s going to sneak up quickly.
“As a goalie, I always want to be better. Whether it is handling the puck, or battling for loose pucks in the crease, it is always important to stay sharp in whatever category of goaltending that is being worked on,” said Chesney. “I am truly spoiled during the off-season, working with Nolan Schaefer and Steve Valiquette (Clear Sight Development), and Mark Cole, who runs skates two to three times a week on Long Island consisting of professional, NCAA Division I, NCAA Division III and Junior players.”
The USPHL congratulates Harrison Chesney, his family, the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and Northeastern University for his commitment.