By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
From Victor, N.Y., just on the outskirts of Rochester, Jack McCandless first got his introduction to USPHL hockey in 2018 with the former Rochester Monarchs 16U AAA squad. After one more season with the Monarchs at the 18U level – and his first four career Premier games – he decided to branch out and leave Rochester.
After a season in New Jersey, he made it to Richmond Generals, where he was a key player for the Gens’ drive to the USPHL Premier National Championship tournament. Now, however, it’s time to turn the car back around to upstate New York, as he has committed to the State University of New York at Potsdam.
“I started to talk to Coach [Chris] Bernard at Potsdam a couple months ago and I have been talking to him regularly since then,” said McCandless, who stands at 6-feet-3-inches and weighs in at 201 pounds. “What Coach Bernard likes about my game is that I’m a big power forward who battles and has a knack for getting to the front of the net.”
And those likes intersect well with what McCandless likes about the SUNY-Potsdam Bears.
“What I liked most about the hockey team at Potsdam was obviously the coaches and the culture they want to establish there and get back to being in the SUNYAC playoffs each year,” said McCandless. “For the school side, I really like the small class size, getting to know my professors and classmates. I was able to visit the campus, and the first time I stepped on campus it felt like the right place for me. They also have a great business program.”
He will plan to major in Business and minor in Sports Management. McCandless was all business on the ice, so that makes sense. He put up 18 goals and 19 assists for 37 points in 43 games this year – and then added seven more points in eight playoff games. Three of those seven were registered at Nationals against the Premier’s best competition.
He loved being able to get out to Utica, N.Y., and play because it simply meant more time being with his Generals brethren.
“Playing for the Generals was great. I loved every second of it. The culture they have there is unmatched and I had great teammates and coaches as well,” said McCandless. “The memories I made with the Generals will last a lifetime. The biggest part of the Generals’ development that helped me be prepared for the NCAA is the structure of the practices and the coaching helps improve what you need to work on as an individual as well.”
The grind of the Southeast Division helped as well, as it pushed both the Richmond Generals and Charlotte Rush to make the National semifinals this year. The Rush defeated the Gens in the semis before in turn falling to the Northern Cyclones in the title game. Getting into those high-stakes games – including a three-game series with a must-win Game 3 against the Potomac Patriots just to get to Nationals – certainly makes men men.
“I think the Southeast prepared me very well for college hockey – the intensity of each game, the games were always so close and competitive, and the players were just so good,” said McCandless, one of six NCAA-bound players from this year’s Generals roster, one of the highest counts in the Premier.
Two others on that list are Potsdam-bound goaltender Lenny Perno and forward Jakub Hall. All three get to start their college careers with a lot of familiarity and chemistry amongst each other, to which they will add their Bears teammates quickly.
“Playing with Lenny again is going to be awesome. I’ve played with him since I was 9 years old, and I’m extremely excited to keep playing with him,” said McCandless. Perno indeed was a Jr. Monarchs 16U and 18U teammate as well as this year with the Generals. “Playing with Jakub will be great, too. We lived together this past year and were able to build a great friendship and will continue that at Potsdam.”
Already bringing a power forward frame to the table, McCandless hopes to be in the best shape of his life when he hits NCAA ice this fall for the first time with the Bears.
“The biggest thing I’m going to be working this summer is getting stronger and preparing my body for the NCAA,” said McCandless. “Playing with guys much older and stronger is going to be the biggest adjustment for me.”
The USPHL congratulates Jack McCandless, his family, the Richmond Generals and the SUNY-Potsdam Bears for his commitment.