By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Opponents of the University of Wisconsin at Stout better be on their guard, as Jake McAlpine is headed their way. If he can produce even a fraction of what he produced in the USPHL Premier this past season (as well as during his stint in the NCDC), a lot of headaches will be felt by Stout opponents.
McAlpine started the 2022-23 season with the expansion Minnesota Squatch, of Elk River, Minn., on a tear. He posted 36 goals and 25 assists for 61 points – in just 17 games. His 3.59 points per game average was the best of any player in the USPHL Premier of 2022-23. He got too good for the Premier and spent the remainder of the season with a now former NCDC team, the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.
By the time he went to New Hampshire, where he had also played in 2021-22, he’d already begun talking with UW-Stout about a future in NCAA hockey.
“I first started talking to the University of Stout about five games into the 2022-23 season,” said McAlpine, a native of Mounds View, Minn., who closed his Premier career with 116 games in 59 Premier games. He also scored 28 goals and 40 points in 68 NCDC games the last two years. “[Stout’s coaches] said they really like my scoring ability and how I shoot the puck. I was interested because they have a hands-on learning style and have a very good hockey team.”
Stout’s program was founded in 1969 and made its NCAA tournament debut in 2007-08, making the semifinals the following season. Second-year head coach Mike MacDonald took the Blue Devils to their highest wins total since that NCAA Division III Frozen Four season in this past 2022-23 campaign.
“I visited the campus and liked the town and the tight-knit community. I talked to a lot of colleges and it was hard to make a decision,” said McAlpine. “I am not sure what I want to study yet. I have to do my [general education requirements] anyway.”
McAlpine had previously worked with the Squatch’s Jason Wood when the latter was an assistant coach with McAlpine’s former Premier team, the Minnesota Blue Ox. He played with the Blue Ox in 2020-21, prior to a full NCDC season in 2021-22 with New Hampshire. Wood and Chic Pojar helped to build the Squatch last year.
“I have a really good relationship with Chic Pojar and wanted to play for him,” said McAlpine, who added he contacted Pojar after being a late cut from a different Tier II league. “He is a really good coach and a better guy. He gave me a chance to play my game and score a lot of goals.”
He scored one goal in his first game this past season, two in his second, four in his third and then put up a 6-1-7 line in his fourth game. Out of his 17 Premier games, six saw him post at least three goals.
“I think the USPHL is a better league than it gets credit for. There are a lot of good players and teams. I had a lot of fun playing in the league,” said McAlpine. “The USPHL gave me the opportunity to move up leagues and play in the NCDC, which gave me more of a challenge and confidence.”
McAlpine knows that he’ll have to bring a full, 200-foot game to have his best success at the college level.
“This off-season, I’m going to work hard on my skating ability and my defense,” said McAlpine.
The USPHL congratulates Jake McAlpine, his family, the Minnesota Squatch and the University of Wisconsin-Stout for his commitment.