By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Hunter Berry might be running out of pins for his North American map of states and provinces in which he’s played: Texas, Colorado, Ontario, Virginia, North Carolina. Luckily, he’s leaving one more pin for his trip later this summer to Boston, Massachusetts.
Berry is going to be joining the Suffolk University Rams NCAA Division III program after closing a very impressive two-year career, one that he ended at the very last possible game of the season, the USPHL Premier National Championship final.
Over two seasons – first with the Hampton Roads Whalers and then with the Charlotte Rush – the future Suffolk player put up a combined 67 points in 79 regular season and playoff games.
His best single season was this past year, when he put up 51 points in 39 games for the Rush, and added three points in nine postseason contests.
“The Charlotte Rush has always had a great reputation. [GM] Trevor Jewell was very convincing in his recruitment last year and honestly it was not all that hard of a decision. Charlotte plays in the best division in the USPHL Premier and they have a proven history of winning. They instill a winning mindset in all their players,” said Berry. “It starts with the little things they do to help prepare you to be successful like requiring players to make their beds every day. It seems odd but it helps get you prepared for your day.”
It also helped him prepare for his upcoming NCAA adventure. Suffolk actually came up as bit of a surprise in his school search.
“I had not talked to them throughout the season, but I was visiting some other schools in the Boston area with [teammate] Shane Adler, and he scheduled the visit to Suffolk,” said Berry. “After seeing the campus and talking with the coach, I knew this was where I wanted to be. [Coach Shawn McEachern] mentioned he liked that I am good in the faceoff circle, and he also likes my play-making ability.
“The school has a great reputation and as Coach McEachern mentioned, there are a lot of intern possibilities given the location of the college in downtown Boston near large corporations, so that is a big plus. I really like the idea of being right downtown,” added Berry, an ‘02 out of Colleyville, Texas. “It is funny because Suffolk really was not on my shortlist but after visiting the school and talking with Coach McEachern, I knew this was where I wanted to be. All the buildings are nice, and I liked the convenience of being downtown. The atmosphere is impressive and extremely high energy.
“Also, who would not want to play for a coach with the credentials that Coach McEachern has? He won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins playing alongside Mario Lemieux and Jaromír Jágr. He also played in L.A. alongside Wayne Gretzky,” added McEachern. “I am sure I can learn a lot from him, and I am extremely excited about that opportunity.”
Berry will enroll in Suffolk’s Sports Management program, and hopes that because of its location, myriad opportunities will open up for future internships and potential employment.
“I’m hopeful that the location of the university will allow me opportunities for internships and career opportunities over the next four years,” he added.
He’s also excited that he’ll be able to go to Suffolk with a few close friends from the last couple years in the USPHL Premier, including Rush teammate Carter Schram.
“Carter was a great friend and teammate last season. I knew Suffolk had given him an offer and after I committed, I was hoping he would too. It looks like we might end up being roommates so that will be good,” added Berry. “It is also nice to know that Kannon Flageolle will be there, the former goalie from Hampton Roads [2021-22]. When I played at Hampton last year, Kannon and I billeted together. He’s a great goalie and also a good friend so it will be nice to have both of these guys as teammates for the next four years.”
It has been a great run the last couple years for Berry, and he feels especially indebted to the Rush coaches and hockey operations department.
“The Rush coaching staff does everything with a purpose, and they set those expectations on the players as well. They are always prepared with pre-ice meetings to review what we would be doing at each practice. This helped set expectations for all players so we could focus and get the most out of each practice,” added Berry. “The entire organization is extremely focused on winning and the coaching staff provides you the tools to accomplish that. I learned a lot this year playing for the Rush.
“ I was fortunate to have billeted with Head Coach Troy Schwab. Troy is a great coach, and it was nice to be able to talk with him away from the rink about my game. He was always willing to talk and give me tips and advice to help me improve as a player and person,” said Berry. “I still talk with him and his three boys on a regular basis. Trevor Jewell and Trevor Kleckner were also great coaches and incredibly supportive. As I mentioned earlier, Trevor Jewell played a big part in getting me to the Rush and he also provided a lot of assistance in getting me connected to colleges.”
He felt confident that staying with the Rush would send him in the right direction for an NCAA career, because of its position as a top team in the USPHL Premier and a competitor in the always tough Southeast Division.
“I think the USPHL is a great league. If you are fortunate enough to play in the Southeast division, you will get consistent competition in every game which will help prepare you to play at the next level,” he said. “Being able to play against top players in the league every game helps you get noticed. College coaches are aware that the Southeast division has the toughest and most competitive division and I know college coaches scout this division heavily.
“The whole Rush organization has a winning mindset, and that winning mindset is instilled in all the Rush players,” he added. “I went to Charlotte with the goal of winning a National Championship, and unfortunately we came up one game short, but it was still a great season.”
A great season is what Berry wants coming up in NCAA college hockey as well, so preparation back home in Colleyville is absolutely key.
“Speed and quickness are the two main things I will be working on this summer because each level you move up the speed and quickness improves, and I want to be able to make an impact as a freshman,” he said.
The USPHL congratulates Hunter Berry, his family, the Charlotte Rush and Suffolk University for his commitment.