Months after VJW alum Mike Vecchione led Union College to its first-ever NCAA Hockey Championship, another ECAC school scooped up a Warrior standout.
| Elijah Harris is Bound for Brown|
Elijah Harris, netminder for the VJW ’97 Elite team that advanced to the USA Hockey National Championship in March, announced that he has committed to Brown University beginning with the 2015-16 season.
The junior at Austin Prep will forgo his senior season at Austin Prep and transfer to Kimball Union Academy where he will play for former Maine head coach Tim Whitehead.
“They were the first team that showed interest and that was a big indicator that they thought that I could play at that level,” said Harris, who resides in Haverhill. “You can’t go wrong with the academics, and I had a comfort level with the balance that they offer with academics and hockey.”
Prior to his announcement, Harris was considered the top elite uncommitted goaltender in New England.
“He knows what he wants,” said Steve MacAdams,
the VJW director of program development and the VJW ’97 Elite head
coach. “He wanted to go to a good school and wanted to play Division I
hockey. That is what he wanted to do, and he gave up a lot of other
things and sacrificed to get what he wanted.”
Harris, who has played in the VJW
system for nearly five years, became a household name more than a year
ago when he was simply outstanding during the Super 8 Tournament.
Originally labeled as perhaps too
small (he stands at just 5-foot-8) to compete at the highest level,
Harris proved any remaining naysayers wrong back in 2013 when he emerged
as a late-season star for Austin Prep and led his team to the finals of
the Super 8 Tournament. During that memorable playoff run, Harris
allowed just five goals in four playoff games and turned away 117-of-122
shots for an eye-popping .959 save percentage.
“I have been lucky enough to play
with great teams and play at a high level whether it was the Super 8 or
at Nationals with the Warriors,” said Harris. “ I was also confident
that eventually something good would come around.”
Something good and then great indeed
came around very quickly. Harris earned Boston Herald All-Scholastic
accolades and was selected in the seventh round of the USHL Entry Draft
by the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
One year later, he led Austin Prep to
the Super 8 Tournament finals and helped his VJW ’97 Elite capture a
third Massachusetts State Select Championship title and advance to the
USA Hockey National Championship for the third time in six years.
“You really noticed him at Nationals a
few months ago,” said MacAdams. “He was unbelievable. He made 30 stops
every game, and his compete level is off the charts.”
The scouting report on Harris is
pretty straightforward. He has an uncanny ability to read plays and
shooters’ releases. He also is able to stay calm and steady in the most
hostile and stressful of environments.
“The more pucks he sees the better he
is,” said MacAdams, who also serves as an assistant coach for Austin
Prep. “He is competitive, but his demeanor does not change. There are no
highs or lows. He is even keel whether something gets by him or he
makes 10 saves in a row.”
Much of his innate talent must come from his father, Peter Harris,
who is a former goalie for UMass-Lowell and a draft pick of the New
York Islanders in 1986. He has also worked closely with Brian Daccord
and his staff at Stop It Goaltending since he was a mite.
“What has been great is that he doesn’t train goalies to play the same way,” said Harris of Daccord who is is responsible for all goaltending training for the VJW program.
“He takes what each goalie has initially and builds on what they do
well and focuses on the things that they don’t do well. In doing that,
he has allowed me and other goalies to keep the uniqueness of our
Although he can’t pinpoint one style
that fits his mold, Harris noted that it has been helpful to see and
work with New Jersey Devils netminder Cory Schneider, who is also a Daccord product, as well as other top collegiate and professional players who frequent Stop It Goaltending.
“My style is a mixture of everything I
have seen goalies do that has worked out,” said Harris. “I can watch
another goalie on TV and it is pretty easy for me to imitate and if it
works I keep doing it. Being a smaller goalie, I have to rely on
quickness and am more reactive.”
Harris is quick to give credit to
those around him, including his teammates from both Austin Prep and the
VJW ’97 Elite team and his mother and father who have guided him both on
and off the ice.
“My dad really helped me on the
hockey side of it and put a lot of time in whether it was bringing me to
practices or helping me with my game,” said Harris. “My mom has helped
with the academic piece and made sure my homework was done before I went
to hockey. They always reinforced that academics came first, so I am
happy that it all worked out and I have shown them that what they did
had a positive outcome.”
MacAdams has no doubts that this is just the start of good things to come for Harris.
think that he will be great,” said MacAdams. “He will do well in
hockey, life, school and everything else. That is just the type of kid