By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
A.J. Mule will have to get used to small town living pretty soon. The town in Massachusetts he’s moving to – Paxton, home to NCAA’s Anna Maria College – has five thousandths of a percent of the population of his own home city, the Big Apple, New York City and its 8.5 million residents.
He couldn’t be happier, though, to have been able to clinch his college hockey commitment, especially after working with the USPHL Premier’s Jersey Hitmen after coming over from the EHL.
“On my visit, I enjoyed the campus very much. Being able to walk almost anywhere you need. Also, the smaller class sizes allow me to get more face time with my professors and have them get to know me better,” said Mule, an ‘02 native of NYC. “I decided to make the commitment official because of these reasons as well as the fact that most of the student body are athletes, so I would be surrounded by many people that share my same interests.”
Mule began to talk to AMC later in the season, after moving over to the Hitmen to start January and close the season in late February.
“The coaches were fans of my skating ability and my awareness on both sides of the puck,” said Mule. “I was extremely Interested in the school aspect first, I was interested in their business program and the opportunities it opens up for me after my four years. The first thing that stood out to me about the hockey aspect was how well the athletes are treated and also the extra effort by the coaches and the rest of the staff to meet the players’ needs.”
Head Coach Jim Raymond welcomed Mule to the Hitmen after New Year’s Day and Mule learned about the family aspect and high expectations of the Hitmen culture quickly. He produced seven points over his 14 games with the mostly young Hitmen squad – Mule was one of just two ‘02’s on the final roster.
“I have nothing but great things to say about the Jersey Hitmen organization. From the coaches to the trainers, everyone there treated me amazing. And they also allowed me a place to play and move on to the next level,” said Mule. “I enjoyed the way the Hitmen let me have my own identity inside of their system. This allowed me to stand out as an individual player while also helping the team towards winning games. This allowed me to build confidence and allowed my game to improve from where it was when I arrived in Jersey.”
Soon after joining the Hitmen, Mule helped the team beat two eventual Nationals squads during their trip to the USPHL Tampa Showcase. They defeated the Fort Wayne Spacemen, 3-2, in a shootout and also posted a 1-0 shutout over a Metro Jets Development Program that was more used to doing the shutting out (they posted 11 on the season).
“The USPHL as a league does a great job of putting out a great product with many talented players,” said Mule. “Also, the large landscape of the league allows players to be seen by schools in more parts of the country as opposed to only being seen by local schools.”
Back in America’s biggest big city this off-season, Mule is going to be working on being game-ready for the AMCats when he arrives in Paxton.
“During the off-season, I will be working hard to improve my overall strength and quickness as well as strengthening my ability to play without the puck,” Mule added.
The USPHL congratulates A.J. Mule, his family, the Jersey Hitmen and Anna Maria College for his commitment.