By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Jake Stapert has been with the USPHL through many stops along his career, including at the 16U, 18U, Premier and NCDC levels. Most recently closing his time in the league after a season with the Rockets Hockey Club, the ‘02 forward from Flemington, N.J., he is most excited about the next big destination – Salem State University, an NCAA Division III institution in historic Salem, Mass.
“I first started talking to Salem State in late December and got to visit in early January. A couple things the coaching staff liked about my game was my 20- foot game, my speed and overall skill set I bring to the table,” said Stapert. “The thing that interested me the most about Salem State was definitely the amazing facility they have, a gorgeous arena with a huge gym, basketball courts and many more amazing features. On the academic side, Salem State has everything you need to be successful while going there. While I attend Salem I will be majoring in Criminal Justice which has always been something I have been very passionate about since I was young.”
After spending the vast majority of his young life in New Jersey, with the exception of a season playing for the Utica Jr. Comets (2021-22), he is also excited about exploring a whole new territory. Salem is famous for its 1692 Witch Trials, and has since essentially become the Halloween Capital of America, with nearly a million tourists flocking to Salem every October for its haunted houses, costume parades, wax museums, et al. It’s also a short drive or ferry trip from Boston.
“When I visited Salem, I knew it was where I wanted to spend my next four years,” said Stapert. “While walking through campus, [Assistant Coach Jimmy] Currier could not have been more helpful with explaining where everything is and how everything works. Amazing town right on the water, relatively close to Boston and all-around great community.”
Stapert had two separate stints with the Rockets, first playing 16U and 18U between 2018 and 2020.
“After leaving Selects Academy following my 15’s year I came back home and was fortunate enough to play for Noel Rubin my 16’s year with the Rockets. He was a huge contributor to my skill set and my overall development as a player,” said Stapert, who was exactly a point per game player in the USPHL 16U Division in 2018-19 with 25 points in 25 regular season and playoff games. “I will never forget every Tuesday would be a skills session for an hour and a half with the Power edge pro equipment which was a huge factor to my skill and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
“My first year playing in the USPHL my 16’s year was definitely one of a kind playing under Noel Rubin and playing alongside some of the best players in the country. The amount of scouting that was done on our team was outrageous,” Stapert added. “After playing another three years in the USPHL at the 18U, Premier and NCDC levels was definitely the right decision for myself. So many eyes on us every game,” said Stapert. “The USPHL is 100 percent the league to play in. The league has very well prepared me for NCAA Hockey and I could not be more excited to get started at Salem State.”
He is also very thankful to former Rockets Coach Jason Kilcoyne for bringing him back into the fold.
“I would also like to thank Coach Jason Kilcoyne for bringing me back into the Rockets organization during my age-out year. The amount of support and how much he believed in every single one of us was an absolute blessing to be around. An absolute amazing coach and even better person,” he added. “With that being said the overall development model of the Rockets is truly one of a kind.”
Stapert certainly feels ready to attack the college game, but knows that first he has various areas to tighten up during this off-season.
“This off-season, I plan to get myself stronger and faster to make an impact in college hockey right away,” said Stapert. “I plan to work on my agility on the ice and being even more mobile along with my overall skill set.”
The USPHL congratulates Jake Stapert, his family, the Rockets Hockey Club and Salem State University for his commitment.