By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Three years saw former Islanders Hockey Club forward Jason Seefeldt experience lots of success by his IHC teams, including his three years on the USPHL Premier squad. All three seasons saw the IHC make trips to the USPHL National Championships, and his 2019-20 16U Islanders team competed hard in the playoffs for a championship at that level.
Seefeldt has shown he has what it takes to push a team deep into the postseason, something he hopes to do with his new team, Salem State University, to which he committed in August.
“I first started talking with Salem the last game before Christmas break,” said Seefeldt. “I had to rush to the airport to make a flight home but got a text from my coach that Salem wanted me to go on a tour. Salem’s coaches liked my compete in all three zones and my skating ability.
“Academically they seemed to have a good computer science program – I have decided to major in computer science, in which I hope to excel,” he added. “On the hockey side they have a nice rink on campus and two of my former teammates Ryan Barrett and Dean Hahn, which makes the transition to college easier and I have only heard good things about their experiences.”
Salem State is traditionally a strong program within the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC), and one which has made the NCAA tournament 10 times in its history – three of those coming within the last 10 years. However, Seefeldt will be joining SSU as they head into unfamiliar territory – they will be playing their first season without the legendary Bill O’Neill behind the bench for the first time since 1981. O’Neill retired this past spring. A national search for a new head coach is ongoing.
Seefeldt certainly loved his time with the Islanders, which began ironically in southeastern Florida.
“[Current Islanders NCDC Head Coach] Tim Kyrkostas was my first hockey coach and also coached my now 29-year-old brother when he played juniors in Florida, so I have known him my whole life,” said Seefeldt. “When I was 15, Coach Kyrkostas invited me to play for the Islanders’ 16U program and was able to practice every day with the Premier level as well.
“Every Islanders team I have played for during my time there has treated me like family. They have been able to create three Premier level National-contending teams with great character seen in every person in the locker room,” Seefeldt added. “My time spent with the Islanders has been without a doubt the best years of my life.”
In the end, Seefeldt put up 66 points in 139 combined regular season and playoff games with the Premier Islanders. This included a 33-point season in his first 38 games in 2020-21, a season that saw the IHC shift operations to Florida as part of Hub City Tampa with the other two Islanders junior teams. That move helped the IHC continue its season and play within a closed community concept that helped ensure the health and safety of players during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the amount of ice time they offer really helps develop players,” Seefeldt added. “Coach [Jay] Punsky and the Islanders cared about the players and spent extra time to watch film from every game and find our flaws we needed to work on in practice. He would also do one-on-one video with players whenever they needed it.”
Seefeldt also enjoyed the wider world of playing in the USPHL Premier, which included access to the largest showcase calendar of any junior league, giving him looks at different locations throughout the country.
“I believe that the USPHL has a good reputation for developing players to prepare them for the college level, and the connections they have to bring in college coaches to watch games throughout the year,” he added. “This gave opportunities to every player on my team to showcase their talents and move on to the next level.”
That next level includes some next-level facilities that have been recently added to the Salem State campus, located in an historic seaside town on Massachusetts’ North Shore – and one that has embraced its identity as the Halloween Capital of the U.S., if not the world. Nearly 1 million tourists flood the downtown streets every October for the famous Witch Museum – related to the famous Witch Trials of 1692 – as well as costume parades, haunted houses and other events related to the spookiest holiday on the calendar.
“The campus was beautiful. Most of the buildings were renovated and is in the middle of an historic town that I hope to learn more about during my time there,” Seefeldt added. “I had one more year of eligibility to play juniors, but decided that if I could get into the college I wanted, then it would make more sense for me to go that route.”
And he has been getting ready all summer and is hoping to make an impact for the Vikings right off the bat.
“Parts of my game I have been working on this off-season are my physical strength and confidence in making plays as well as my shot,” Seefeldt added.
The USPHL congratulates Jason Seefeldt, his family, the Islanders Hockey Club and Salem State University for his commitment.