Friday, September 28, 2012

Adam Clark: UNH's Goalie of the Future

Scott Campbell, radio voice of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, announced that 6'5", 210 lbs. goalie Adam Clark (DOB: 3/23/1993) has committed to play for the University of New Hampshire. In an online interview, Clark explained his reasons for choosing UNH:
"It's a great program, great hockey. I mean the school is gorgeous. It's a great fit for me; (after) talking to the coaches and everything, it just clicked for me. It was a great opportunity. I'm looking to get into business. I did my research and a lot of their team is studying in business. It's just something I've always wanted to get into so it was a pretty easy choice for me."

Adam Clark is from Sherwood Park, Alberta, a suburb of Edmonton. UNH Captain Connor Hardowa is from Edmonton. Adam played his youth hockey at the Sherwood Park Kings Athletic Club. From an early age, he was a tall goaltender relative to his peers. As a 14-year-old, he was six feet tall and backstopped the Sherwood Park Bantam AAA Flyers. That team won the 2008 Alberta Provincial Championship and Adam was named the top goaltender in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League. Adam Clark and the Flyers went on to win the 2008 Western Canadian Bantam Championship.

At age 15, Adam Clark advanced to midget major hockey with the Sherwood Park Kings AAA team and posted a save percentage of .915% and goals against average of 2.00 in 10 regular season games. In his third season in midget majors, Clark split goaltending duties with Matt Tomkins, who went on to be drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks. The tandem helped lead the Kings to the 2011 playoff finals in the Dodge Division of the Alberta Midget Hockey League.

Last season was Adam Clark's first in the British Columbia Hockey League. As an 18-year-old rookie, Clark was the Salmon Arm Silverbacks' backup goalie to 20-year-old Kurt Williams. The Silverbacks struggled throughout the 2011-12 season, finishing with the second fewest points in the league and scoring the third fewest goals. In the 22 games that Clark played in goal, the Silverbacks managed to win only 5 times. Clark's save percentage for the season was .855% and he allowed an average of 4.33 goals per game.

Determined to take his game to the next level and earn an NCAA scholarship, Adam Clark enrolled in the prestigious Elite Goalies Mentorship Program this summer. Mike Valley, the head instructor and owner of Elite Goalies, has also been the goalie coach for the Dallas Stars for the last three years. In an extensive article, Justin Goldman - founder of the independent goalie scouting service The Goalie Guild - provided an analysis of Adam Clark's progress throughout the program. Fans interested in understanding the intricacies of goaltender style and technique, as well as the specific improvements Clark made, are encouraged to read the entire report. In general, the goal of the instruction was to help the big, tall Clark utilize his size more efficiently. Goldman summarized Clark's progress as follows:
"Ultimately, what I liked most about Clark is that he wasn’t just a big lumbering goalie out there; he displayed good natural instincts, quality skating skills, and quiet body language. He will definitely remind you of (Mike) Smith (Phoenix Coyote goalie) when watching him make saves, and that’s a really nice compliment for a goalie that’s still learning how to utilize his size more effectively...Despite the fact he’s an undrafted 19-year-old prospect just hoping for a chance to earn a college scholarship, only the sky is the limit for this kid."

In the following interview, Adam Clark describes his background and his commitment to UNH:   

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. When did you begin to consider UNH as a potential destination?
Adam Clark: It has always been an aspiration of mine to be a part of an elite Division 1 NCAA program and as of this year when UNH approached me things just fell right into place. With a great hockey and academic program UNH couldn’t have been a better fit for me and I am extremely excited to be a part of such a prestigious program.

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): What other college programs were recruiting you?
Adam Clark: I had talked to a couple of other schools, but none for myself or my family were as clear of a choice as UNH.

Lowry: Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?
Clark: As of now I have committed for the 2014/2015 season, after completing my final year of junior hockey.

Lowry: Are you acquainted with UNH Captain Connor Hardowa who is from Edmonton? If so, was that a factor in your decision to commit to UNH?
Clark: I have not met Connor, but have heard great things not only from the staff at UNH but also many people back home who knew him from his days as a Spruce Grove Saint.

Lowry: When did you start playing goalie and where did you play before you joined the Silverbacks last year?
Clark: I started playing goalie at the age of five. My family lived in Florida for a couple years and the age groups were much larger than those in my hometown of Sherwood Park. Being the youngest in that age bracket, barely able to skate, they stuck me in net and my passion for the position only grew from there. I played the majority of my minor hockey in Sherwood Park Alberta for the Kings Athletic Club, which I owe a lot of my success today as an athlete and a person to.

Lowry: Professional goalie scout Justin Goldman has likened your style to Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes. What are the strengths of your game? What areas do you plan on improving this season?
Clark: I would have to say some of my strengths would be the ability to use my size, speed and agility within my crease, puck handling ability and my sense of leadership. There are always little things that I will adjust throughout the season , but as a whole, physically and mentally preparing myself to play at the NCAA level is the biggest thing I will work on.

Lowry: In a recent interview, you said that you were interested in studying business when you come to UNH. Have you graduated from high school? What are your academic strengths?
Clark: I graduated from high school in 2010 from Bev Facey High School. I have always had an interest in business, growing up watching my dad go to work every morning, sitting in on his meetings, and learning some inner workings of a successful company.

So far this season, Adam Clark has started in three games for the Silverbacks. His save percentage is .924% and the GAA is 3.00. Clark was in goal for the team's first win of the season, an overtime victory over the Vernon Vees. In addition to Adam Clark, there are three UNH recruits playing in the BCHL this season. Mike McNicholas (Nanaimo Clippers), Dylan Chanter (Merritt Centennials) and Cam Marks (Coquitlam Express) are the others.


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