By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Hunter Dunn is just fine with tests, so bring on the tests of university life.
After all, he joined with his Northern Cyclones teammates on facing what looked like absolute elimination during the semifinal round of the National Championship tournament. The Cyclones rebounded to tie against the Florida Eels with 7.2 seconds remaining and came back to win the Championship one day later.
So, no challenge is too great now for Dunn to face and get past, whether it’s on the ice or in the future in classrooms at his NCAA ice hockey destination, Fitchburg State University. The 2003-born two-year Cyclones forward is excited about what he and his future Falcons teammates can accomplish.
“What interested me about Fitchburg was my father went there and the recruiting class that is coming in. Next year there will be a big group of freshmen coming in all together. It gets me excited about being able to build something that will last forever over the next four years,” said Dunn. “On the academic side it is an instate school that offers my major so it was the perfect fit.”
Dunn, who said he is looking to be an Accounting major, first started talking to Fitchburg State early in the season, when he opened with the NCDC Cyclones.
“It was at the USPHL start of the season showcase [i.e., the BJB Shootout] at the New England Sports Center against the Jersey Hitmen,” said Dunn. “Coach [Dean] Fuller and Coach [Tom] Patty didn’t tell me what they liked about my game at that time but told me they were interested.”
His ability to compete and succeed against the odds might have had something to do with it. He said that just comes with being a member of the Northern Cyclones.
“My overall thoughts on the Cyclones is nothing but high praise. At every level, they preach the importance of winning. I have really bought into that and plan on bringing that intensity with me to Fitchburg,” said Dunn. “The Cyclones also have a state of the art training facility and ice time available like no other place.”
Dedication to all aspects of the game, including mental toughness, preparation for all game situations and conditioning are taken into account in the Cyclones all-encompassing development model.
“A key factor in our run was when we lost to the Bridgewater Bandits in Game 1 of the second round of playoffs for us to get to Utica. After that loss, we had our backs against the wall and every single person on the roster knew we were one loss away from going home,” added Dunn, who had 13 points in 11 postseason games. “That really set everyone up to be locked in for the eight-game win streak we went on to achieve.
“My thoughts on the journey to become National Champions this year started with the leadership Coach Bill Weiand selected and the people the boys voted on to be our leaders. Every day they were the backbone on being dedicated to win the whole thing,” said Dunn. “Another important factor was the practices Coach Weiand ran. Everyday it was high paced with game-like scenarios. We would practice for an hour, get off for an ice cut, and then come back out for another hour, sometimes more. I truly believe with doing that everyday that was the reason we won we Nationals. No team was more conditioned than us.”
He is almost envious of future Cyclones players, who enter into an even larger development system that includes the organization’s purchase of the former Daniel Webster College facilities.
“The Cyclones’ development model is like no other. They have fully moved to Daniel Webster College starting next year and I think it’s going to make it even better. The ability to live in the dorms with all your teammates and the other guys on other teams really gives you the ability to bond and become extremely close as a group,” Dunn added. “The on-ice portion of developing is also great as they have Coach [Fred] Hein as a skills coach. He teaches you not only the basics a great hockey player should master, but he also pushes you out of your comfort zone to become more creative.”
Add to that the ability to play in the largest junior league in North America if not the world, the USPHL Premier, and the already well-rounded Cyclones player gets to face different styles of hockey from the South, Midwest and West Coasts. This diversity of styles also draws college coaches from across the country to see how its players respond to the unknown.
“The USPHL Premier as a league is a well-organized league that seems to attract college coaches to come watch,” said Dunn. “I didn’t really play much of the regular season, but in Utica [at Nationals], the level of play was high paced for the most part, with the majority of the players having a good skill level.”
The level of play takes another jump up when you enter the NCAA level, and Dunn is excited about how he can become even better with the Falcons.
“I was able to go on a visit with some of my teammates and the school and training facilities they have are extremely nice,” said Dunn. “What made me commit was how genuine the coaching staff is in wanting to win and their love for the players. Another key factor was how many freshmen are coming in.
“The part of my game I feel I really need to work on to have success in college is getting stronger,” he added. “I felt this year I was weaker than most of the people I went against in the corners and felt like I didn’t win puck battles like I should. If I can achieve this, I feel I can have success because I believe in my myself that when I have the puck, I can make the right play but also can become creative to set up scoring chances.”
The USPHL congratulates Hunter Dunn, his family, the Northern Cyclones and Fitchburg State University for his commitment.