Liam Hennessy made the big decision to move from the traditional hockey market of his hometown Calgary, Alb., to Fort Myers, Fla. After all, who wouldn’t want to move to a Florida Eels program that has moved more than 330 players to college hockey?
The move has paid huge dividends as Hennessy is officially set to move on to NCAA Division III Rivier University, of Nashua, N.H., next year.
“I first heard from Rivier the last week of January but didn’t fully get an offer until about midway through February,” said Hennessy, an ‘02-born forward. “The coaches had an understanding for me right away after looking at my film, which was the fact that I am a big-bodied two-way forward.”
He’s a big-bodied forward who can do serious damage on opposing defenses, given his 28 goals and 29 assists for 57 points in 42 games. That’s certainly going to help bring a boost to Rivier, and Hennessy can’t wait to see how he’ll be able to work with the Rivier staff and his teammates.
“I really liked all of my conversations with the coaches and how honest they were with me from the get-go. I loved the location as well which held a place in my ultimate decision to join the school,” said Hennessy. “On the academic side, the business management program had all the tools for me to be successful after my next four years with Rivier.”
Of course, Hennessy chalks much of his success in sealing up an NCAA commitment to the organization and systems of the Florida Eels of Fort Myers, 2,400 miles from Calgary.
“You wouldn’t think Florida would really be the place to play good hockey, which I was very skeptical about when signing before the start of this season, but if you are wanting to fulfill a dream to play college hockey then the Eels are the real deal,” said Hennessy. “I have never seen any organization work harder to create a positive space for its players then the Eels, from cCach Frankie going through video day in and day out just help the team get better together, to GM Frank Scarpaci having his phone glued to his ear getting these players the looks they deserve. I will forever hold a special place in my heart for this organization and everything they have done for me.”
When you go to Fort Myers to sign with the Eels, don’t expect much beach time. It’s hard work and constant focus on the end goal of an NCAA commitment.
“When signing with the Eels last year after the Chowder Cup, I was asking questions on what the daily schedule would look like and Frankie looked at me and said ‘it’s not going to be easy but we are going to make you a college hockey player,’” added Hennessy. “Coming into training camp, he was not kidding but I wouldn’t have done it any other way because it showed me what it takes to get to the next level.
“Working six to seven hours a day at your craft every single day is definitely something we all had to buy into, but the coaching staff gave us all the motivation we needed to carry through with our plans as a team, which were to continuously get better every single day.”
This all helped the Eels make the National Semifinal this year, reaching the last four USPHL Premier teams for the third straight year. Hennessy has extra praise for the league that provided the platform for him to hone his game into an NCAA-ready product.
“I can tell that the USPHL is working very hard to make a name for themselves and they are definitely in the conversation of creating college hockey players, through the NCDC, and the Premier level, even the Elite division as well, they have shown amazing coverage,” he added.
The next phase of his life is about to begin, Hennessy headed back to Calgary and he’ll be focused on being physically and mentally ready, as well as getting in the reps on the ice to be an impact player at Rivier from Day 1.
“I am a strong believer that you need to constantly be developing very aspect of your game, not just one specific thing,” said Hennessy. “There is always something to work on every day, but I feel like if you work on all five aspects of your game, you will continuously become more mature within the aspect of the game. Obviously, the NCAA is a big leap, but my biggest adjustment will have to be my decision-making within the games.”
The USPHL congratulates Liam Hennessy, his family, the Florida Eels and Rivier University for his commitment.