NCAA 2022-23 Season Also Saw Alumni Honored With 80 Captaincy Positions;172 Alumni Win Championships
By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
The National Collegiate Development Conference and the United States Premier Hockey League as a whole is looking forward to another huge NCAA hockey season in 2023-24, especially after research has shown that it is truly the home of #CommittedLeaders. Several leagues see college commitments every year, but NCDC and USPHL alumni stand out with the sheer amounts of winners in several categories of NCAA hockey honors across the NCAA Division I, II and III landscapes every year. The 2022-23 season was no different.
Individually, there were 208 individual NCDC and USPHL alumni who earned awards, ranging from weekly prizes to major awards, including Players of the Year in various conferences and multiple Hobey Baker Nominees in the Division I realm.
Additionally, NCDC and USPHL alumni were instrumental in helping their teams to conference as well as National Championships. More than 170 alumni were members of regular season, playoff and/or National Championship teams.:
- Five members of Quinnipiac University’s NCAA Division I championship team played in the NCDC, including Hobey Baker Top 10 finalists goaltender Yaniv Perets and forward Collin Graf. Both were former Boston Junior Bruins players – and Perets won the Dineen Cup with his former team in 2019. Perets also won the 2023 ECAC Goaltender of the Year award and QU teammate Samuel Lipkin (Rockets Hockey Club) was named ECAC Rookie Of The Year.
- The Northeast-10, the nation’s only NCAA Division II-level hockey conference, saw no less than 19 USPHL alumni on the Saint Anselm College regular season and playoff championship roster. This included Co-Captains Matthew Hayes (South Shore Kings) and Andrew Andary (Islanders Hockey Club).
- At the NCAA Division III level, National Champion Hobart College featured 16 USPHL alumni – including Northeast Hockey Conference Player of the Year Luke Aquaro and NEHC Rookie of the Year Damon Beaver (both former Jersey Hitmen), Captain Zach Tyson (South Shore Kings/Jersey Hitmen) and Alternate Captain Artem Buzoberya (P.A.L. Jr. Islanders/Jersey Hitmen).
Leadership and grace under pressure continues to be a hallmark of former NCDC and USPHL players, as seen by the fact that no less than 80 alumni wore either a “C” or an “A” on their jersey during the 2022-23 season.
- There were 17 captains for either the 2022-23 season or announced for 2023-24 among the league’s alumni playing NCAA Division I hockey. Domenick Fensore (P.A.L. Jr. Islanders) was a Captain with the Hockey East Association Regular Season and Playoff Champion Boston University Terriers, and was also a First Team All-Hockey East selection in 2022-23. Dartmouth College Captain Tanner Palocsik (Jersey Hitmen) was an All-Ivy League Second Team Selection and a New England Hockey Writers All-Star. Former USPHL 16U standout Paul DeNaples (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights) wore the “C” for a second full season for the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Big Ten Conference, and won the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
- A total of 68 NCAA Division II and III players either wore a letter for 2022-23 or have been announced as wearing a “C” or “A” for 2023-24. Former Connecticut Jr. Rangers 16U player Donnie Feldman will be Captain of Arcadia University for his second straight year in 2023-24. Teammate Cam Parrott (Charlotte Rush) will wear the “A” for a third straight season next year. Salem State University saw enough maturity in three-year Islanders Hockey Club USPHL Premier star and former captain Ryan Barrett to bestow an “A” on him as a freshman in 2022-23! USPHL and NCDC alumni occupied 100 percent of the captaincy positions for Salem State, as well as numerous other teams. In fact, all five of Utica University’s letter-wearers in 2022-23 were USPHL alumni!
Individual awards, as mentioned above, seemed to be magnetically drawn to NCDC and USPHL alumni during the 2022-23 season, as 208 alumni won in-season and post-season honors. Some of the Division I highlights:
- In addition to the aforementioned individual honors won by members of Quinnipiac University’s National Championship team above, former Junior Bruins 16U player Sean Farrell was named ECAC Player of the Year and joined Graf as a First Team East All-American East selection. Perets was named a Second Team East All-American, giving the Junior Bruins organization all three of the ECAC’s All-Americans. Farrell, Perets and Graf also formed about 33% of the Hobey Baker Top 10 field. Farrell followed up his success by signing with, and playing for, the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens after the conclusion of the NCAA season, and Perets signed his first pro contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. USPHL alumni won 13 of 22 monthly honors in the ECAC in 2022-23.
- Former NCDC blueliner Hunter McDonald – a Philadelphia Flyers Draft Pick – was named Best Defensive Defenseman in the Hockey East and joined Northeastern University teammate and former Junior Bruins NCDC player Cameron Lund – a San Jose Sharks Draft Pick – on the Hockey East All-Rookie Team. NCDC and USPHL Alumni won 16 weekly awards and seven end-of-season honors in the Hockey East.
- NCDC and USPHL alumni won seven postseason all-conference and all-rookie team spots in the Atlantic Hockey Association. This included First Team Selections Blake Bennett, of American International College and a Charlotte Rush alum, and former USPHL 16U standout Neil Shea, who were both also among the first announced nominees for the 2022-23 Hobey Baker Award.
Division II/III Individual Award Highlights:
- Players Of The Year in three different conferences came from the NCDC and USPHL. In the Commonwealth Coast Conference, former Twin City Thunder Andrew Kurapov, of regular season and playoff champion Endicott College, was named Player of the Year. • Two College of St. Scholastica players earned Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year nods. Former New York Aviator Arkhip Ledenkov won Offensive Player Of The Year, and former Minnesota Mullets goaltender Jack Bostedt won Defensive Player Of The Year. Both were named as First Team All-Americans and were joined in that honor by CSS teammate and former Aviator Filimon Ledenkov – Arkhip’s twin brother.
- As aforementioned, Hobart’s Luke Aquaro (Jersey Hitmen) was named the Player of the Year for the NEHC, as well as a First Team All-American.
- NCDC and USPHL alumni were named as Rookies of the Year in five NCAA Division III conferences – the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference chose former NCDC standout Colton Friesen, who has moved to NCAA Division I Augustana University for 2023-24; the United Collegiate Hockey Conference chose former Twin City Thunder Caden Smith, of Chatham University, as their ROTY; the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference tabbed former Charlotte Rush Zach Dill, of Salem State University; the Commonwealth Coast Conference selected as its ROTY former Florida Eel Gage Dill, of Curry College; and the NEHC, as aforementioned, chose former Hitmen goalie Damon Beaver.
- Overall, NCDC and USPHL alumni had better than 50% of major individual award-winners in five different conferences.
- In terms of postseason all-conference honors distributed throughout 2022-23, NCDC and USPHL alumni won 50% or better of all available spots in the UCHC, MASCAC and CCC. They also had at least 50% of such spots on the NEHC First Team, NESCAC First Team, SUNYAC Second Team and 50 percent or better on both the Northeast-10 Second Team and All-Rookie Team.
The NCDC and USPHL wish all of their alumni continuing or beginning their NCAA college hockey seasons in 2023-24 the very best of luck and we know they will continue to show just how well our leagues produce #CommittedLeaders!
To pave Your Path To College Hockey today, go to NCDCHockey.com and fill out an NCDC Prospects Form!