It's hard to imagine that a slow August day of fishing would be the starting point for a hockey whirlwind that propelled a New England prep player into national prominence.
Jay O’Brien of Hingham, Mass., was casting for stripers with his hockey bud Luke McInnis (also from Hingham) when he saw his iPhone light up. It was a text from area code 719, Colorado Springs, and O’Brien’s heartbeat picked up the pace. USA Hockey operations director Marc Boxer might as well have been Santa Claus dropping off a much-awaited gift. "Congratulations, you made the Prospects Game." The two teens clinched in an emotional bro-hug. McInnis knew exactly how O’Brien felt — he had been selected one year prior, and ended up scoring the game-winning goal.
The All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo is a premier showcase for NHL draft-eligible players in the U.S. "Getting that text was pretty nice," said O’Brien, a Thayer Academy senior and the top returning prep scorer in New England. "It was something that was on my mind, something I wanted to make." Forty-two Americans made the 2017 game, the majority from the USHL and USA Hockey’s national team in Michigan. Only two New England prep players made it — O’Brien and Jordan Harris (Haverhill, Mass.) of Kimball Union.