By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
For one memorable season, Charlie Chinian was able to walk around in shorts and flip-flops even in December and January. He battled all year to become one of the Florida Jr. Blades’ leaders on and off the ice in one of the USPHL Premier’s toughest circuits, the Florida Division.
He couldn’t be more proud and thrilled, however, to trade in that garb for snow pants and winter boots as he returns to his native New England, after recently committing to the NCAA Division III program at New England College. A resident of the central Massachusetts town of Petersham, he’s taking his game about 90 minutes on picturesque country roads to Henniker, N.H., the home of the NEC Pilgrims.
“I got in contact with them in the middle of our season and talked on the phone with the coaches then went in for a visit. They liked that I have size but I also have scoring and playmaking ability with a nose for the back of the net,” said Chinian, who scored 26 goals and 24 assists for 50 points in 43 games for the Blades this year. “I like that it’s a small school with a small campus, but hockey is a big focus, with the rink on campus that players can use whenever they want. I can also tell the coaches really care about the program and developing their players with a winning mindset.”
The Pilgrims men’s hockey team is a big draw for the small NEC student body, which lists just over 1,800 undergraduates in a student body where the majority are actually graduate students (approximately 2,600). NEC is always competitive within the New England Hockey Conference, and has a long history going back to 1969 with three NCAA tournament appearances in its history.
“For classes, it means smaller class size and for the hockey side, [I committed] because the hockey team is a big deal to the other students and community surrounding the school,” he added. “It’s also about an hour from my house so I love being close to home.”
Chinian originally applied for business, but he is planning to switch to a Sports Management major when he arrives on campus in the late summer.
Chinian, who played in three seasons in the USPHL, is extremely grateful to the Coaching staff of Rod Simmons and Doug Rose for helping him elevate his game to become an NCAA recruit.
“I wouldn’t have had this chance without the Blades and the coaching staff. Coaches Simmons and Rose both put all their time into the team, finding the right line combinations as well as making sure each player was individually developing their weaknesses into strengths,” said Chinian. “Development and success isn’t always just on-ice things and on-ice development. What I really loved about the Blades was the way they worked on developing not just hockey players but they work to make every player better people off the ice as well, which showed how much they care about the players and the program.”
As he looks back on his hockey career to this point, he can think of so many people who crafted who he is today in every aspect of his being.
“I also want to add that I wouldn’t have this opportunity without these people and I don’t have words to express how thankful I am for these people: My mom and dad as well as my whole family giving me the ability to move from Mass. to Florida for this,” he said, “and the whole Blades roster of players and coaches, but specifically my roomates Aidan Fenton and Braden Mayer.”
He was a big fan of the Jr. Blades being able to play in a few different USPHL showcases over the course of the season, which helped him get looks from NEC and several other schools this year.
“Showcases are definitely great for college looks. I liked getting lots of games clumped together in one location so coaches and scouts can come watch games,” said Chinian, whose own Jr. Blades host the annual USPHL Florida College Showcase at their home Hertz Arena in Estero, Fla.
He’s excited to be moving back home and to NEC to continue an already fantastic hockey career, but knows he can’t step onto the Pilgrims’ ice with even the great toolbox he carries right now.
“Mostly speed,” he said, when asked what he’d like to work on most this off-season before becoming an NCAA hockey player. “I have good size, good strength and a very good shot, and if I can get to that top level speed, I will be a very dominant player for years to come.”
The USPHL congratulates Charlie Chinian, his family, the Florida Jr. Blades and New England College for his commitment.