By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Daniel Hodowanec is ready to bring his game, that of a hard-nosed, rugged veteran defenseman to the NCAA game. And the beneficiaries of this drive to succeed will be Arcadia University!
Hodowanec brings to Arcadia four junior seasons worth of experience, including being a former lettered captain, an assistant during his time with the former New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (as well as with the Northern Cyclones Academy 18U squad).
For Hodowanec, who put up 10 assists in his 41 games with the Rockets Hockey Club this past season, he can look back on a full season of commitment talk with Arcadia Head Coach Vincent Pietrangelo and Assistant Pat Carroll that worked up to clinching the decision.
“I first started speaking to Arcadia when I reached out to Coach Pietrangelo back in October, telling him my interest in the school and his program. After that, Assistant Coach Pat Carroll came and watched me, and then shortly after I was asked to come on a visit,” said Hodowanec, a native of Watchung, N.J. “What the coaching staff liked most about me was my skating abilities, my first pass out of the defensive zone, as well as how reliable I am in the defensive zone. Off the ice the coaching staff really liked my character, coming from many different teams in my career I was able to adapt to different coaches and teammates quickly. Having me become easy to talk to and work with, as well as always looking after my teammates.”
Moving on to Arcadia alongside Rockets teammate Jack Quigley, Hodowanec made the trek and that also set him on his new NCAA-ready path.
“I really enjoyed the school atmosphere when I went to visit and felt that there were many ways for students to get involved in almost anything they wanted,” said Hodowanec. “What made me decide on Arcadia was the level of comfort I immediately felt with the coaching staff and everyone I encountered on my visit. Right off the bat I felt that I was able to be myself with the coaching staff and once the visit was completed I truly felt that I was at home.”
Arcadia University opened its NCAA program only as recently as the 2021-22 season, but they continue to grow the program and improved year over year in wins in a very tough United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC).
“What interested me the most about Arcadia was being able to grow with a new program. My freshman year will be the third year of Arcadia being in NCAA. And for me being able to be a part of a new team in the UCHC was an opportunity I couldn’t say no to,” Hodowanec added. “As for the academic side, I really liked the small classroom sizes on campus. As a student, I won’t have to compete with thousands of other kids that have the same professor like most big schools. At Arcadia, I felt that I wasn’t going to get lost in the mix as a student and also a hockey player.”
After taking coding courses while playing for the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs during the 2022-23 season, Hodowanec knows that Computer Science will be his chosen field of study.
“I took some coding courses to see if this field was right for me. While playing for Rockets Hockey Club this past season I was able to get a job as a Data Scientist, creating codes as well as writing research on a wide variety of topics in today’s world,” said Hodowanec. “Playing and also working, I feel, got me ready for the college experience and gave me some image as to what is expected from me as a student-athlete.”
He also got a bit of a taste for that while playing with the Rockets Hockey Club this past season, joining a highly structured program with high standards for athletic and academic achievement. The prior year’s Rockets team, for which Quigley skated, had won the USPHL Premier National Championship.
“In my final year of Junior Hockey I was very pleased with what the Rockets Hockey Club had to offer. Jason Kilcoyne right off the bat helped me a tremendous amount to get me ready to play NCAA Division III hockey,” he said. “Without Coach Kilcoyne and the Rockets Hockey Club, I have no clue where I’d be. I think the model that Coach Jason Kilcoyne instills in his team and his players is a model that should be used throughout the league. Our Rockets team this year wouldn’t have gotten as far as we did without Jason Kilcoyne’s leadership and coaching skill set.
“Coach Kilcoyne helped me a lot with the mental side of my game as well as solidifying myself as a shutdown defenseman no matter where on the ice,” said Hodowanec. “These are all pieces of the puzzle that I will use at Arcadia and beyond.”
This past year was not his first time wearing a Rockets jersey. Turn the clock way back to 2017-18, and you’d find Hodowanec playing with the Rockets’ USPHL 16U Futures (now 15U) team.
“Six years ago, I played with the Rockets under Coach Oktay Armagan, which was my first taste of the level of hockey which was considered a job. It got me prepared for what was expected of me in my junior career, as well as life,” he said. “The life lessons and adversity gone through in just my two years at the Rockets helped shape me into the leader and player I am today and will continue to be.”
Hodowanec went from the USPHL 16U Futures to stints at the USPHL 18U, USPHL Elite and ultimately a 106-game Premier career, including regular season and playoff games.
“I think every single level I played at gave me the confidence I needed to further my game and get ready for the next step the following year,” said Hodowanec. “Confidence is everything in hockey and in life and through my time in the league that was something that I was able to recognize very young in my junior career. Over the years, I was able to prove myself at each level and be able to be a shutdown defenseman in my final year with the Rockets. I would also like to thank every other team I played on in this league: the South Shore Kings, Boston Bandits, Northern Cyclones, and New Hampshire Monarchs. Without any of these organizations, my commitment to Arcadia wouldn’t have been possible.”
Hodowanec reflects on his time specifically in the Premier, and how the structure and schedule of North America’s largest junior league helped him prepare for NCAA hockey.
“I think the USPHL Premier league is a fantastic league for players looking for the opportunity to play NCAA Division III hockey,” said Hodowanec. “From my experience with both the New Hampshire Monarchs as well as Rockets Hockey Club, I was given the chance to play for Nic Cota and Jason Kilcoyne. These were both coaches that helped me grow my game and become a more attracting defenseman for NCAA D3 schools.
“The scheduling of the USPHL Premier level is also a major influence in getting me ready to play college hockey,” Hodowanec added. “With practices during the weekdays and for the most part games on the weekend, it is a similar schedule as to what I will be expecting during my time at Arcadia.”
He is also, of course, expecting a much harder game especially considering the UCHC is one of college hockey’s toughest circuits in which to build up wins.
“What I plan on working on the most in the off-season is all around getting stronger as well as my conditioning so I can play to the best of my abilities every single time I get on the ice,” said Hodowanec. “When I’m needed, I want to be able to give 100 percent all the time and that is something I have seriously implemented into my workout plans this offseason.”
The USPHL congratulates Daniel Hodowanec, his family, the Rockets Hockey Club and Arcadia University for his commitment.