College coaches know that a serious amount of talent exists in their backyards and recruit heavily from the league every year.
Providence College, the defending NCAA champion, returns forward Conor MacPhee(Islanders Hockey Club), defensemanLogan Day (South Shore Kings) and goaltender Brendan Leahy (P.A.L. Jr. Islanders) to this year’s squad.
As with every year, Boston College is considered a favorite for both the conference and national titles, and the Eagles boast several USPHL alumni such as the South Shore Kings duo of Chris Calnan, a Chicago Blackhawks draft pick, and Craig Shero as well as longtime Junior Bruins defenseman Josh Couturier.
Also augmenting the Eagles’ lineup is Washington Capitals selection Zach Sanford, whose season with the Islanders Hockey Club propelled him to NHL prospect status.
Up in Maine, the Black Bears take the ice with a healthy contingent of USPHL alumni led by sophomore standout Nolan Veseyand senior captain Steven Swavely (New Jersey Hitmen).
The younger Vesey (older brother Jimmy plays for Harvard) arrived with high expectations after putting up 66 points with the South Shore Kings and hearing his name called by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2014. He proved his worth to the tune of 23 points as a freshman. Swavely previously played for the Hitmen.
Freshman Rob McGovern, a Bay State Breakers alum, is one of the many former Breakers goaltenders in NCAA hockey and looks to be the favorite for the starting job.
Other USPHL alumni on the Black Bears are senior Andrew Tegeler (Junior Bruins), and freshmen Brendan Robbins (Islanders Hockey Club) and Stephen Cochrane (Bay State).
Junior Bruins alum Ryan Cloonan has been impressive in his freshman season at Boston University. The speedy forward had eight points through eight games and has seen time skating with the top line.
Dominic Trento (formerly of the New Jersey Hitmen), jumped out to a better than point-per-game scoring pace this season for the University of Massachusetts Minutemen. Photo by Joshua Boyd
Dominic Trento (Hitmen) was a better than point-per-game player through nine games this year with 11 points at UMass-Amherst. There, former South Shore King Shane Walsh also had 11 points in nine games. They are joined there by former Junior BruinMichael Iovanna and former Philadelphia Flyer Ryan Badger.
The coaches at Merrimack College have always looked to USPHL clubs for players such as South Shore Kings alum Chris LeBlanc, an Ottawa Senators pick.
Recently, the Warriors staff has taken full advantage of the new rink on campus which doubles as the Islanders Hockey Club’s home arena. Islanders alumni Teddy McCarran and Aaron Titcomb are sophomores on the Warriors this year and former South Shore goalie Craig Pantanojoined the team this season.
While the University of Notre Dame is far removed from the rest of the conference, USPHL alumni have contributed to the Fighting Irish cause.
Assistant coaches Brian Mahoney-Wilson(South Shore Kings) and Mason Graddock(Green Mountain Glades) both played for USPHL member clubs prior to beginning their coaching careers. Mahoney-Wilson had also served as the Kings’ goaltending coach during the 2013-14 season.
Former Junior Bruins standout Brian Bowen was earning increased ice time with the University of Vermont, as were former Hitmen Ori Abramson and Conor O’Neil.
At the University of New Hampshire, former Hitman John Furgele is a defensive regular, most often in front of former Junior Bruins goalie Daniel Tirone.
Former Connecticut Jr. Rangers goalieStephen Thulin earned his first career start for UConn on Oct. 10.
More East Coast stars
Given the proximity to USPHL member teams, it is no surprise that Atlantic Hockey coaches make the short drives to USPHL arenas to find recruits.
Worcester, Mass.-based Holy Cross has a considerable USPHL presence both in quantity and contribution.
Captain Matt Vidal played for the Bay State Breakers, and Mike Barrett and Danny Lopez both played for the Jersey Hitmen before joining the Crusaders. SophomoreTommy Muratore spent time with the Hitmen USP3 team, but played in the Premier Division for the Islanders Hockey Club.
Vidal is leading the team with nine points in eight games.
Newcomer and former Hitman Mike Laffin, last season’s leading scorer with 91 points, also made the trip from New Jersey to Worcester. He had seven points this year in eight games. Ryan Ferrill, formerly of the Philadelphia Flyers USPHL squad, is just ahead of Laffin with eight points through seven games.
The U.S. Military Academy has a special profile of players deemed worthy of wearing the Army Black and Gold. The Black Knights seem to have found a contingent of them in Foxboro. Tommy Bessinger, Joe Bruckler, Trevor Fidler,Dalton McAfee and Matt Penta all spent time with the South Shore Kings before heading to West Point.
Across the country at the Air Force Academy, former Portland Jr. Pirate and South Shore King Shane Starrett is splitting time evenly in net as part of a freshman goalie duo.
Mercyhurst University opened the Atlantic Hockey season with a 4-0 conference record, due in no small part to the five USPHL alumni on the roster.
The Lakers feature Jack Riley (Jersey Hitmen), Nathan Ferriero (Islanders Hockey Club), Zach Todd (Junior Bruins), and the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders duo ofTommasso Bucci and Chris Makowski.
Fellow former P.A.L. Islanders bluelinersJames Mazza and Cameron Heath are patrolling Canisius’ back end regularly this year as freshmen.
Robert Morris University senior and Bay State Breakers alum Zac Lynch has had an excellent college career, tallying 101 points in his first three years of college hockey.
As of Nov. 9, he is second in the conference with 14 points in eight total games, and tied for first in AHA games with 11 points in six games.
He is joined on the Colonials roster by Rochester Jr. Americans alum Terry Shafer.
Longtime Junior Bruin Connor Doherty is a staple of the Sacred Heart defense, where ex-Connecticut Ranger Zach Sabatini also plays as a regular forward. Former BreakerJackson Barliant earned his first collegiate point on Halloween night for the Pioneers.
Andrew DeBrincat (Jersey Hitmen) is a regular on the blue line for American International, where former Islanders Hockey Club player Lucas Bombardierscored two points in five games.
Editor’s Note: Come back next week for an overview of USPHL Premier alumni in the ECAC and in the western college hockey leagues!