A former National Hockey League forward and current pro scout, Mark Mowers joins Kirk Luedeke on the latest New England Hockey Journal’s “RinkWise” podcast.
A native of Decatur, Ga., Mowers played four seasons of Division 1 college hockey at the University of New Hampshire (1994-98) before a seven-year NHL career saw him suit up for four different franchises. Following his retirement, Mowers got into scouting, landing his first pro job with the Montreal Canadiens in 2012. He went on to spend two years in the Buffalo Sabres organization, before starting his current role with the Minnesota Wild in 2019.
Veteran youth hockey coach Bruce Haas also joins the show to talk about his book “Great Game!: D-1 College Hockey: People, Places, Perspective,” an award-winning book on men’s Division 1 college hockey.
Growing up in upstate New York, Mowers played at Whitesboro High before going to the NAHL, where he recorded 70 points in 39 games in his first year of junior hockey with the Saginaw Gears.
The following season, he played in the USHL for the Dubuque Fighting Saints, where a hot start resulted in him garnering some college interest.
UNH was one of the schools that came calling. For Mowers, it stuck out for more reasons than one, including its close-to-home location on the east coast.
“I pretty much fell in love with it instantly, just driving to the campus and arriving on campus,” Mowers, 47, told Luedeke.
“I made the decision that year to become a Wildcat and it was definitely not a bad decision. Best four years of my life.”
By the end of his stay, Mowers had 197 points on 85 goals and 112 assists in 144 games played. As a senior, he served as captain and was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist, as the Wildcats made it to the national tournament, falling to the eventual NCAA champion, Michigan, in the Frozen Four.
What stood out more than his points and the team’s Cinderella run from his time at UNH, however, was the lasting bond that formed within the group, Mowers said.
“It’s the family atmosphere and how it just sticks with you for the rest of your life. You don’t realize it at the time, you’re having fun, but as you’re going through it you form these friendships (that last a lifetime).”
It’s a bit different at the college level nowadays, the pro scout continued.
“It’s more about getting to the pros versus winning championships. Back when I was there, we just wanted to win. UNH has never won, they still have never won a title, and that was our main goal. That’s, for me, what made it special.”
As an undrafted free agent, Mowers inked a pro deal at the end of his senior season, signing with Nashville prior to the team’s expansion season in 1998. He spent four seasons with the Predators before stops with Detroit, Boston and Anaheim.
Now, ten years since retiring, Mowers is on the other side of the NHL landscape, scouring the rinks for the next wave of professional talent.
“Skating, compete level, skill level, hockey sense is a huge one,” Mower said of the main attributes he and his colleagues look for in players.
However, while speed and skating used to be the most important factors, other areas are becoming more enticing for NHL clubs, Mowers said, as the overall skill level and speed of the game have increased.
Take Pat Maroon, for example.
“He’s probably the slowest guy in the league but he fits on that team because they have enough speed and he’s smart around the net and he has good hands around the net. He’s a piece of the puzzle,” Mowers said.
“It’s all situational. You’re not looking for 18 guys that have the same attributes.”
For more insight from Mark Mowers on his playing career, scouting and more, as well as Luedeke’s conversation with Bruce Haas, listen to the full podcast today.
RinkWise is brought to you by Paul Vincent Hockey, Laura Stamm Power Skating, Sacred Heart University, University of Nebraska High School, and Bruce Haas’ “Great Game!: D-1 College Hockey: People, Places, Perspectives.”
(Previously on the podcast: Mark Divver, Paul Cannata, Jeff Cox, Jordan Harris, Bobby Farnham, Steve Jacobs/Paul Pearl, Kent Hughes, Mark Dennehy, Ben Barr, Troy Thibodeau, Swaggy P/Torrey Mitchell/Kevin Sneddon of Elev802, Paul Mara, Chris Collins, Matt Plante/Devin Rask)