By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Bring on the future. Aidan Flynn is ready for it all.
The two-year Charlotte Rush forward has put in the time with high-level hockey from the Tennessee-based high-level TPH Thunder through Tier II hockey and over these last two years with the Rush in the USPHL Premier. Now, the future holds an NCAA hockey career at Nichols College, an NCAA Division III institution located in Dudley, Mass.
“Nichols was a very welcoming campus. A lot of the buildings are brand new and they have a fantastic business course with many notable alumni,” said Flynn, a 2002-born native of Spring Hill, Tenn. “The facilities for the hockey team are perfect and I couldn’t ask for more. The staff were also very generous and outgoing while on my visit. The hockey team has had a history of high level teams as well.”
One of the nation’s longest-serving NCAA Division III teams, with a history dating to 1931, the Nichols Bison also have declared themselves as NCAA contenders in the 21st century. They have made four national tournament appearances since the 2007-08 season, the most recent being in 2017-18. The team is currently coached by Alex Gacek, who came on at the start of the 2022-23 season.
“I started talking to Coach Gacek around January and went up to Nichols for a visit in February,” said Flynn. “Coach Gacek mentioned to me that he liked my 200-foot game and my playmaking abilities.”
Flynn already felt at home when visiting the rural Nichols College campus.
“It sits on top of a big hill that overlooks western Massachusetts, which is pretty beautiful,” he added. “The atmosphere is almost like a small town where the community is tight knit and everyone knows each other. [Major-wise], I’m looking to start in business analytics my first year and see how I like it.”
Heading there alongside fellow Rush teammates Dylan Ray and Zach Gmerek, he certainly already has that sense of a “team family” built in, so he’ll spend his off-season crafting the right diet and the right fitness program to be at his best this fall.
“I’m working on getting heavier on the puck. That starts off the ice in the kitchen and in the gym, but the biggest difference I see [in college hockey] is how hard people play,” he added.
The Charlotte Rush are pretty well-known for playing the same style of game, heavy on the puck, physical but fast and offensively gifted while very tough to crack defensively.
“At the Rush, we play a very simple game. We stick to our systems and we put our trust in each other to do our jobs and we find success. That’s really all we do,” he said. “We have very talented players that we let make plays but for the most part we are extremely disciplined. This helped me improve my game a ton because I got to know where people would be and I could make plays a lot quicker.”
Flynn posted 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points in 39 games this season. Along with 17 games played last year, he put up 38 points in 56 total regular season games. He also played in 14 playoff games, posting three assists and helped the Rush to the Premier championship game this year.
“There really aren’t words that I could use to describe how much the Rush organization means to me,” he added. “They have done a tremendous job at not only building teams but sculpting each individual person into a better teammate, player, and person.”
He also was happy to spend his final junior days in the USPHL Premier, well-known as the leader among junior hockey in college hockey placement, i.e. Your Path To College Hockey.
“I think the Premier league has a lot of opportunity. For the younger guys, they have a ton of opportunity to improve in this league and likely move on to Tier II or I,” he said. “As for the older guys like me, there’s tons of opportunities for me to showcase my skills in front of hundreds of scouts, even being from the South.”
The USPHL congratulates Aidan Flynn, his family, the Charlotte Rush and Nichols College for his commitment.