New England Hockey Journal is reflecting back on the calendar year 2021, identifying top regional natives who made their mark in Division 1 hockey.
It has been a tale of two seasons for the most part, as 2020-21 was heavily disrupted by the global coronavirus pandemic, while there was a return to (somewhat) normalcy in the fall months. A recent spike in COVID cases has caused postponements of games or restrictions of spectator presence in recent weeks during 2021-22.
The cancellation of the Ivy League season a year ago cost players without junior eligibility an entire year in their development. Other college hockey conferences had seasons in 2020-21, but restrictions and protocols, no fans in the venues and other challenges created an unprecedented environment for the participating schools and their student-athletes.
This list recognizes players who were difference makers in ’21, with the majority having played college hockey in both seasons, but a few who did not and have either moved on to the pro ranks like Spencer Knight (Darien, Conn.), or came from juniors, but have found a way to elevate their individual and collective play in the first semester.
The 2021 series will continue to recognize key performers from the area at other levels of hockey.