By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Filip Tjarnhell became a big fan of the North American style of hockey these past two seasons, so much so that he’s coming back this side of the Atlantic Ocean to start up his NCAA hockey career.
Tjarnhell, an ‘02 from Sweden, will be joining the NCAA team of New England College, of Henniker, N.H., starting this fall. Tjarnhell is coming off two seasons in the USPHL Premier, most recently with the Twin City Thunder.
“Coach Steele had been talking with NEC for some time but everything sped up when I contacted Bluechip and that’s when I made the commitment,” said Tjarnhell from Sweden, via WhatsApp. “The coaches liked my ability to find open ice, my attitude/work ethic and my shot.”
That shot rang up 18 goals – and his passes led to 12 assists – for 30 points in playing all 44 games for the Thunder this past season. He also put up 13 goals and 23 points in 43 games one season earlier with the Hershey Cubs. All of this two-way excellence led him to his current situation of being a rising NCAA athlete.
“Before I started playing in the USPHL, I knew I wanted to go to college in the U.S. and New England College was one of the first programs I came across when looking online, so they’ve always been a program I’ve had interest in,” Tjarnhell said. “After this season, I contacted a company in Sweden called Bluechip, which helps European players get into schools that are a good fit. I got in contact with Coach [Tom] Carroll through them and I instantly liked the way he runs the program. Academics-wise, I saw that their cybersecurity program is one of the best and since that’s what I want to study it was a good fit in all aspects.”
He was unable to physically visit NEC during the recruiting process, but is excited after what he has seen online and from what he’s heard second-hand.
“I was unfortunately not able to visit before I had to head home. I have looked at pictures, reviews and asked a teammate that visited how it was,” said Tjarnhell. “Everything pointed to it being a great campus that I would enjoy being at. I decided to make the commitment official after getting admitted and talking to Coach Carroll since the school and team ticked all my boxes.”
Tjarnhell has come a long way, considering that as of mid-September 2022, he was not sure what jersey he’d be pulling over his head for 2022-23.
“I was in a weird situation last year which led to me not having a team in mid-September. So I reached out to a couple of teams in the league and [Thunder Head Coach Colt] Steele was one of the first to reply,” he added. “I started talking to him and he seemed to really be interested in having me. We kept chatting for a bit and everything felt good, so I signed there. He and Coach [Caleb] Labrie really put effort in to help us grow as players and prepare ourselves for the next step.”
He has been able to soak in the experiences of Coaches Steele and Labrie, who bring college hockey experience from Liberty University and Becker College, respectively.
“Both coaches Steele and Labrie played college hockey so they know what it takes to get there. I think it was very beneficial for me to have both of them being able to tell me tricks and what I need to improve on to be able to succeed at the next level,” he added.
He was also happy to have played his first two North American seasons within the USPHL, and credited the league’s unmatched USPHL Showcase Series and high visibility to colleges.
“I think the league does a great job of exposing players to schools from all levels. There’s always schools at the showcases and even last year when I wasn’t an age-out you’d get some looks,” said Tjarnhell. “It’s also been great for me, as a European player, to be able to play on the smaller ice surface for the last two years. I think the league is very good at promoting a more North American style which really helps us coming from the bigger rinks.”
Along with his work to get used to the North American game the last two years, Tjarnhell is working on quite a bit back home in Sweden.
“Obviously as a junior player going into college you will have to improve all parts of your game,” he said. “But the ones I’ll focus the most on are speed and endurance. I feel like those parts will give me the best ability to have a positive impact on the team from the get-go.”