The GBL Boston Junior Bruins announced recently that three of their 2018-19 players have committed to play Division 1 NCAA hockey.
Forward Arlo Merritt committed to Ohio State, forward Kyle Penney to Cornell and - just this August - forward Brian Carrabes accepted an offer from Boston University.
All three started their season playing against a mix of EHF Selects and non-league opponents at the Tier-1 Labor Day Faceoff in Massachusetts over Labor Day weekend. EHF Selects is the split-season Midget Division of the United States Premier Hockey League, and includes some of the top National-bound programs in the United States.
Merritt (Halifax, Nova Scotia), who is a senior at Kimball Union and is playing in his first season with the Bruins, is slated to start playing for the Buckeyes in fall 2019 but could end up playing a year of junior.
I'm going to have to adjust to that [college] level, and this league is definitely one to prepare for that.
Like Merritt, Penney is also from Halifax, is also a first year Bruin, and is also a senior at Kimball Union. He is likely to start at Cornell in 2019.
Carrabes (North Reading, Mass.), a junior at St. John's Prep, will start with the Terriers in 2020.
"I was really excited!" Merritt told USPHL.com, about his commitment to the Buckeyes. "I had some interest for a while and I was kind of nagging myself to get it out of the way. Once I was out at Ohio State and I met the coaching staff though and then saw the campus I knew I wanted to go. It was a really good feeling and I'm happy with my decision so far."
Merritt, a 6-3, 190-pound center who had 18 goals and 10 assists in 37 games for Kimball Union last season, knows that even despite his large frame, he will need to get and play stronger to survive at the college level.
"I'm going to have to adjust to the physicality a lot," Merritt acknowledged. "I'm a big kid but I'm definitely not as strong as those guys yet. So, I'll have to adjust to the speed and physicality when I get there. It should be difficult at first, but once I get used to it I should be fine adjusting."
Merritt said that the new EHF Selects Division in the USPHL should be a great proving ground before he moves on to college.
"It should be a pretty good league, with all those leagues [EHF and Mass. Selects League] merging in one, there will be a lot of competition, not just the same teams," said Merritt. "It'll be a really good experience in terms of development and playing all those good players.
"I'm hoping to get stronger, faster, and get a lot of games under my belt here, and playing against a lot of good competition," he added. "I'm going to have to adjust to that [college] level, and this league is definitely one to prepare for that."
As for playing for the GBL Jr Bruins this season, Merritt is looking forward to the opportunity and already has some familiarity with the head coach Bret Tyler, since Kimball Union head coach Tim Whitehead coached Tyler at UMaine.
"It's going to be great competition," Merritt said. "Our coach Tim Whitehead pushes for us to play in this league and knows the GBL Bruins coach so there is a familiarity there and it should be a great experience."
Penney, a 6-5, 185-pound forward who had four goals and 19 assists in 34 games for Kimball Union last season, was thrilled to get the offer and accept to play for The Big Red.
"It was a pretty amazing feeling!" Penney said. "After all that hard work you put in on and off the ice, to get the call from a place that in my opinion fits me perfectly, it's a pretty good feeling. I'm not quite there yet, but to know that I'm that much closer to Division 1 hockey, it's a pretty amazing and fulfilling feeling."
Penney prides himself on being a solid two-way player but would like to round out his scoring touch before he arrives at Cornell.
"I've always thought of myself as a good 200-foot player," Penney said. "This year, going into the season, I'd definitely like to add to my scoring and scoring ability and being able to score from different positions and different places. I'd also like to add to the physical aspect of my game as well. I've been working on those things over the summer."
Carrabes is still on cloud nine after accepting to play for the Terriers in mid-August of 2018.
"It's always a dream to play for BU and the history behind it," Carrabes said. "The feeling to get that offer and accept was something I never felt before and probably one of the best days for my family and I. However, at the same time, we all know that the real work is just starting and I'll have to work harder than ever before."
The 5-10, 178-pound forward who scored 21 goals and had 13 helpers in 23 games for St. John's Prep last season, plans on continuing to play bigger than his size.
"I like to do it all," Carrabes said. "I don't just like to score or pass. I like to do everything and at 5'8, I like to play physical with a bigger game and really up tempo."