By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com
Owen Swanbon never minded packing bags if it meant finding the best place for his hockey development and recruiting potential for NCAA college hockey. For him, it meant heading out of Massachusetts to play the 2022-23 season with the USPHL Premier’s Hampton Roads Whalers in Virginia.
Swanbon, a native of Maynard, Mass., had played a number of years in the EHL and EHL Premier, but it was with the USPHL Premier’s Whalers that he saw his greatest development – and the NCAA college commitment to go with it. He is heading this fall to Framingham State University in his home state, and he couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.
“I reached out to Coach [Mike] Bailey in early November. We communicated through e-mail up until Thanksgiving break, where I then went home and was able to attend one of Framingham’s games,” said Swanbon. “After the game, we had a really good conversation and went from there. I think that Coach Bailey liked the experience I was gaining playing in the toughest division in the USPHL.”
The Whalers play in the Premier’s Southeast Division, home to three of the past five USPHL Premier champions – and two of those (2018 and 2019) were the Whalers themselves.
“The Whalers are a first class organization with a great staff and support system. Coach Colten Teubert was a fantastic coach to have during my age-out season and I am so happy that I chose to play for the Whalers in my last year of junior hockey. We are truly treated like professionals and we have some of the most passionate fans in the league,” said Swanbon, who went 7-11-2 and put up a .904 save percentage. “The USPHL is a great league for preparing young men to play college hockey. For me, playing in a really competitive Southeast Division has prepared me to make the jump to NCAA Division III hockey.”
Part of the system the Whalers utilize to prepare their players for the best possible college opportunity is the pressure cooker of having two teams of players working to suit up for the Premier team. There is constant motivation to play your best, as your roster spot is always up for grabs.
“The development model of the Whalers is really strong. Throughout the year, we had players get called up from our Elite team and prove that they were able to hold their own at the Premier level. This speaks to the level of coaching we have from Head Coach Colten Teubert and Assistant Jeff Morgan,” Swanbon added. “Our goalie coach, Dalton Stol,z would run goalie sessions every two weeks, which helped me stay on top of my game throughout the season.”
That performance caught the eye of Framingham State, and the university itself quickly caught Swanbon’s eye for being just the right fit.
“What interested me most on the hockey side was the level of skill and pace of play. When I attended Framingham’s game in mid-November, I knew right away that the level of hockey was perfect for me to continue developing my game,” he added.
“Academically, the smaller class sizes at Framingham State will be a smooth transition from the small high school I attended,” Swanbon said. “What made me decide to make my commitment official was the school’s proximity to home. To have the opportunity to play college hockey in front of my family and friends was a huge factor in my decision.”
You don’t just flick a switch and become an NCAA athlete, however. Swanbon knows he has some work to do to get ready for Day 1.
“I am going to continue to work on getting bigger and stronger during the off-season. I will be doing power-skating lessons as well as goalie training at Merrimack College with Stop-It Goaltending to help get me prepared for NCAA hockey,” he added.
The USPHL congratulates Owen Swanbon, his family, the Hampton Roads Whalers and Framingham State University for his commitment.