The Division 1 hockey schedule for New England teams may be taking a week off, but the action is just heating up for a handful of regional natives competing for spots on the U.S. National Junior Team.
Two of the three Massachusetts natives on the preliminary U.S. roster are in the midst of strong freshman seasons for Hockey East power Providence College in forward Jay O’Brien (Hingham) and defenseman Michael Callahan (Franklin).
Providence head coach Nate Leaman is excited for O’Brien and Callahan, who look to become the second and third Friars to represent the U.S. at World Juniors in the last three years. Thirteen Providence players have competed at the tournament in the past. However, Leaman feels that USA Hockey’s scouting presence, led locally by former Northeastern and Dartmouth head coach Ben Smith (Gloucester, Mass.), was a benefit to his entire team.
“Jay has been on the radar, obviously, for a long time and had a very, very good camp (at the World Junior Summer Showcase),” Leaman said of the former Thayer Academy star and Flyers first-round draft pick who has been limited to just 10 games this season due to injury. “But I was excited for a number of guys because (USA Hockey was scouting) at our last eight games.”