The collegiate hockey season is just around the corner, and many of the top teams in this region have deep VJW ties.
All you have to do is look at the 2014-15 Hockey East predictions and you'll see that the Warriors have many of its former players competing for three of the top four ranked teams – Providence, Boston College and Northeastern.
The Warriors also have former players competing on three of the top five teams currently atop the Preseason USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll.
In addition to Providence (#1) and Boston College (#4) - which you'll learn more about below - Union (#5) will look to Mike Vecchione to build off an impressive freshman campaign where he helped the Dutchmen to the program's first-ever NCAA Men's Hockey Championship title.
Here is a quick rundown - with team capsules courtesy of College Hockey News – on each of those three Hockey East teams and the VJW players who have continued the program’s impressive streak of placing its student athletes at top Division I schools.
Overview: Last year, the Friars reached the Hockey East semifinals for the third straight year and made the NCAA
tournament for the first time since 2001. This year, they’re poised to
take the next step. Their 97 returning goals are the most in the
conference, as they bring back their top five scorers and 11 of their
Warrior Impact: Brian Pinho
will be making his Friars’ debut this season after an impressive high
school career at St. John’s Prep (Danvers) and one year playing in the
USHL. Pinho was a longtime Warrior who began his VJW career when he was
just a squirt major. He continued to develop over the years and was part
of the successful 1995 team - led by head coach Bill Franzese -
that not only advanced to USA Hockey Nationals in 1998, but they also
collected four New England Hockey League (NEHL) titles in a six-year
span. Ranked 109th amongst North American skaters, Pinho was selected by
Washington in the sixth round (174th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft.
2. Boston College
Overview: The defending Hockey East regular-season
champs lose more offense than anyone (56.1 percent of last season’s
scoring to be exact), highlighted by the departure of the superstar trio
of Johnny Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold. The Eagles won’t come
anywhere close to last year’s 4.10 goals per game, but the good news is
that they aren’t going to give up too many goals either.
Warrior Impact: It’s hard to pinpoint what is making Eagles nation more excited… the return of sophomore Ryan Fitzgerald (who is said to be transitioning from right wing to center this season) or the emergence of Noah Hanifin
along the blueline. Both are former VJW standouts. Fitzgerald, who was
the 2013 EJHL Rookie of the Year while playing for the VJW Junor A team,
finished as the fifth leading scorer for Boston College last season. He
was selected by the Boston Bruins in the fourth round (120th overall)
of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Hanifin stands as the youngest player in
the history of BC's hockey program and is one of the most highly touted
recruits in college hockey. He scored 45 points in 59 games with the US
National Development Team, splitting time between the U-17 team and the
U-18 team. Hanifin, who was a member of VJW ’97 Elite team, is projected
to be a top 5 pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. In addition to
Fitzgerald and Hanifin, Brendan Silk enters his junior campaign
for the Eagles. He was a Warrior youth standout before he was named to
the U.S. National U-18 team in 2011-12 where he played in 42 games.
Overview: The Huskies are going to score this season, which gives them a little more certainty than most Hockey East teams.
Warrior Impact: Earlier this year, Brendan Collier
- a seventh round selection of the Hurricanes in the 2012 NHL Draft and
a standout on the VJW’s Junior A team during the 2012-13 season–
announced that he was transferring from Boston University to
Northeastern. It was welcome news for the Huskies as Collier played in
29 games for the Terriers last year and led the team in plus-minus.
Collier will be reunited with his former VJW Junior A teammates - Jake Schechter and Gus Harms– who are coming off a strong freshman campaign for Northeastern.
In just 10 years of operation, the Valley
Jr Warriors have placed more than 100 alumni in various Division I and
Division III college programs. In fact, the history of VJW success was
in full display last winter when 10 percent of the players competing
at the 62nd Beanpot Tournament were VJW alumni (click here to read more).
Throughout the season, check back for updates on the many talented
former VJW players who are competing for the nation's top teams!