Blackwell Prepares for 2012 National Junior Evaluation Camp
While many players are taking time off this summer, one former VJW star is hard at work preparing for a challenge of national proportions!

Colin Blackwell
, who proudly wore his VJW jersey from Mites through Midgets U17, was one of 46 players who were invited to take part in its National Junior Evaluation Camp this August in Lake Placid, New York. Blackwell will be battling for a spot on the U.S. National Junior Team that will take part in the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2012-Jan. 5, 2013, in Ufa, Russia.

“When I got the call, I couldn’t have been happier,” said Blackwell, who is coming off a sensational freshman campaign at Harvard University. “You get to go to camp and have this great opportunity in front of you to wear the USA on your chest… It’s going to be an interesting experience and I couldn’t be more happy, honored, humbled and excited to prove myself.”

Throughout this past season at Harvard, Blackwell has been honing his skills in front of NHL and USA Hockey scouts. He traveled to Cambridge following an impressive high school career at St. John’s Prep (Danvers) where he was a three-year most valuable player and two-year captain. He was also named the 2010-11 Massachusetts High School Hockey Coaches Association Robbie Ftorek Player of the Year and was the 2010-11 ESPN Boston's "Mr. Hockey" Player of the Year. Despite his success as a youth player, Blackwell still had to get used to the challenges of collegiate hockey.

“When I got there, everyone was bigger, faster and stronger,” said Blackwell. “I was an 18 year old kid and I was playing against guys who were 25 years old. It was an age difference that I had never experienced before. It took a few practices and a game or two to get used to it, but I eventually became more comfortable with the speed of the game.”

In November, Blackwell scored his first collegiate goal against Colgate, netted the tying and winning goals in a comeback against New Hampshire and earned ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week honors. He continued to be an offensive weapon for Harvard Head Coach Ted Donato down the stretch as Blackwell registered four assists in 6-1 defeat of Cornell in the ECAC semifinals (March 16), becoming the first Harvard player since 2002 to record four helpers in a game.

“One of the things that I learned during my first few practices and games was the importance of winning the one-on-one battles,” said Blackwell, who – while at SJP - set a single-season school scoring record with 66 points (33 goals, 33 assists) as a senior and graduated as the fourth-leading
all-time scorer. “We needed to be focused on winning those battles against the person next to you. If you could win those battles you could help your team go further.”

Blackwell also managed to balance his schoolwork with Division I hockey as was evidenced by his being an ECAC Hockey All-Academic selection.

“I leave my room at 3 and I don’t get back until 8 and then you have your opportunity to start your work,” said Blackwell. “You have to be organized and time management was a key trait to have.”

This summer, Blackwell has been focusing his efforts on preparing for the next challenge that lies ahead in Lake Placid. He has been making near daily treks to Cambridge to work with the Harvard strength training coaches and also getting ice time in here on the North Shore.

He will – later this month – participate in the San Jose Sharks Prospect Camp. He was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Along the way, he also has found time to visit his old coaches at the Haverhill Valley Forum and work at the Valley Jr Warriors Summer Camp in August.

“Whenever I am home I try to show up and say hello,” said Blackwell. “I played with the Warriors all of my life. If it wasn’t for the support that my coaches gave me, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Blackwell credits the coaching staff – including Fred Devereaux, Peter King, Andy Heinze and Mike Holubowich – for helping him grow over the years through competitive league and tournament play and the weekly team and skills practices.

“I went through a time when everyone else was going through a growth spurt,” said Blackwell. “Everyone was getting bigger and faster, but the Warrior coaches stayed with me and worked me hard and believed in me. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The weekly skills sessions with Coach Devereaux that I participated in from an early age were important. I still use those same drills and lessons to this day.”

And Blackwell’s advice for those youngsters coming up through the program?

“I have been in the shoes of the younger players,” said Blackwell. “If I can do it, they can do it. The Warriors have the coaching staff and the facilities to allow those young players to do the same thing.”

Click here for a complete schedule of play at the 2012 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp.
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