On this week’s episode of New England Hockey Journal’s RinkWise podcast, Kirk Luedeke is joined by Northeastern captain and senior defenseman, Jordan Harris.
Harris, a 21-year-old from Haverhill, Mass., is featured on the cover of the New England Hockey Journal’s September/October 2021 magazine, alongside Northeastern head coach Jerry Keefe (Billerica, Mass.), who’s entering his first season at the program’s helm after a decade assisting Jim Madigan behind the bench.
In what will be his fourth and final season at Northeastern, Harris, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound defenseman, is a preseason candidate to win the 2022 Hobey Baker Award. He was a third-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Harris joined Luedeke to discuss a number of hockey-related topics, including his early playing days, players he models his game after, the return of a normal Hockey East season in 2021-22 and more.
After getting his start at the Salem Ice Center, Harris played for the Northern Cyclones organization. He then made his way to the Minuteman Flames, before joining Islanders HC. From there, he enrolled at Kimball Union Academy, where he spent three seasons honing his craft under longtime prep coach, Tim Whitehead.
Playing for him, “is one of the best things that has happened to me in my hockey career,” Harris said of Whitehead. “He really understood the development aspect of young hockey players. He wasn’t trying to over-manage us or anything like that, he let us play and I’m super fortunate that he allowed me to make mistakes.”
“I was a 15-16-year-old kid,” Harris continued. “My game was nowhere near where it needed to be for college or pro or anything like that, but he allowed me to make mistakes and really encouraged me to do new things, but play the game the right way. I’m super grateful for that. He’s a tremendous coach and I met a lot of good people there.”
So, what does playing the game the right way entail?
“As a player, you’re going to make mistakes,” Harris said, “and you’re going to try new things, but the thing with Whitehead that really stuck out was when it comes to playing the right way, it was like, ‘OK you’re going to do this, but you’re going to be a good teammate and you’re going to play hard.’ And if you’re going to make mistakes it’s not because you’re not trying hard (enough) or not competing or not having a team-first mentality, it’s because you fumbled the puck or you were trying to make a play that would lead to a goal.
“It’s those non-negotiables: you’re going to play hard, you’re going to play for your team, you’re not going to turn the puck over on the blue line, you’re going to get pucks in and back-check, play defense, but you’re also going to try to make plays. That was really beneficial.”
In the midst of his third and final season in Meriden, N.H., Harris played five USHL games with the Youngstown Phantoms. His name quickly rose up the draft boards and, months later, he was selected 71st overall.
After looking up to his older Huskie teammates in the past, Harris is eager to pay it forward as NU welcomes in yet another wave of high-caliber talent.
“It’s weird being the old guy in the room,” he said, “but it’s been great. The talent we bring in every year just seems to get that much quicker, that much more skilled and that much more hockey-intelligent, so they’re picking things up on the fly and props to them.
“We’ve been super busy with all the team activities that we’ve been doing so they’ve had a tough schedule but they’ve been picking things up great.”
“I really do like our group this year,” Harris told Luedeke. “It’s very collective. We didn’t get a lot of chances to spend time as a group last year, so I’m really happy to have more time as a group and I think it’s really helped our team thus far.”
Aside from being back in the dorms and once again able to get dressed in the same locker room, one of the biggest differences for the Huskies this season will be fans returning to Matthews Arena.
It will be a welcome sight for everyone, Harris said, when Northeastern’s season begins at home against Bentley on Oct. 2.
“It’s a really fun atmosphere and it really does make a difference. Last year you would score and you would just hear crickets. It was eerie. Not having that takes away a huge aspect of college athletics, so everyone’s so excited to have that back. We’ll see what the levels of attendance are, but it’s going to be a blast and we’re all looking forward to it.”
For more from Northeastern senior captain Jordan Harris on his development, thoughts on the upcoming 2021-22 season and more, listen to NEHJ’s RinkWise podcast today.
The episode, as well as previous episodes, can be accessed on major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify, as well as online at hockeyjournal.com/podcast. Podcasts are typically dropped every Friday morning.
RinkWise is sponsored by the 2021 IceBreaker Tournament, University of Nebraska High School and Bruce Haas’ “Great Game!: D1 College Hockey: People, Places, Perspectives.”