Saturday, November 17, 2012

The van Riemsdyk Trifecta: 16-year-old Brendan Commits to UNH

Brendan van Riemsdyk (DOB: 1-28-1996), the youngest son of Frans and Allison van Riemsdyk of Middletown, New Jersey, has decided to follow in the footsteps of his brothers James (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Trevor (UNH Wildcats). The 6'3", 189 lb. forward has committed to play hockey for the University of New Hampshire.

Brendan's dad Frans van Riemsdyk regularly attends UNH games both home and away. With oldest son James not playing games due to the NHL lock out, Frans has been able to see most of Trevor's games this season. Following the UNH game at UMass Lowell on Friday night, I had an opportunity to talk with Mr. van Riemsdyk about Brendan's decision to commit to UNH:

"We're very excited for him. There's a deep comradery among the three brothers. Now there won't be any dramatic conversations around the dinner table. We've been very pleased with James and Trevor's experience at UNH. Why mess with success? We didn't push Brendan toward one school or another. We did help him control the overall pool of schools to consider but left it up to him to make the final choice."
Brendan, who will turn 17 in January, is currently a junior at Christian Brothers Academy (CBA), a four-year private preparatory school in Lincroft, NJ. The CBA campus is about 6 miles from the van Riemsdyk's home. James attended CBA through his sophomore year while Trevor graduated from CBA in the spring of 2009. CBA has one of the premier high school hockey programs in New Jersey. When James was a sophomore at CBA in 2005, he scored an overtime goal in the New Jersey State Championship game against rival Delbarton. In Trevor's senior year, CBA lost to Delbarton in the Championship game.

Last season, in his sophomore year at CBA, Brendan van Riemsdyk finished the season with 16 goals and 14 assists in 29 games. He is the noticeably tall #17 in the photo on the right. In the New Jersey Non-Public School Championship game, BvR scored the second goal for Christian Brothers against arch rival Delbarton. However, Delbarton came back to win the championship 3-2. CBA will begin its 2012-13 campaign on November 27th. As Mr. van Riemsdyk explained to me, all three of his boys loved playing before the big crowd of friends and fans at CBA high school hockey games. The championship game last season was held in front of close to 8,000 fans at the Prudential Center in Newark.

For several years, BvR has played his fall hockey for the New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey Club based in West Orange, NJ. BvR and the Devils U-16 Midget Minor team just completed the fall season in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League. In 15 games, Brendan scored 11 goals and 9 assists.

In terms of physical development, Brendan is more like James than Trevor. BvR and JvR are tall, left-shot forwards. When JvR joined the U.S. National Team Development Program at age 16, he was listed at 6'3" and 187 lbs. - about the same as Brendan is now. As for development of hockey skills, reports on James when he was a youngster describe him as a natural. Even as a 10-year-old, JvR was a prolific scorer. By contrast, Brendan's hockey skills have been somewhat slower to develop. For example, a U.S. Hockey Report article from last May provided the following evaluation of BvR:
"Has yet to gain his coordination and lacks speed coming out of the gates. Because he has a hard time getting up and down the ice he does not get many touches on the puck, but he is smart player who is good around the net. In our opinion it is only a matter of time before he breaks out of his shell, but some critics are beginning to think it may never happen."
This appraisal was based in part on Brendan's performance at the Atlantic District tryouts for the USA Hockey Select Development Camps. It turned out that Brendan was not selected for the 2012 USA Select 16 camp. He had made the 2010 Select 14 and 2011 Select 15 Development Camps.

Mr. van Riemsdyk tells me that Brendan trained very hard, along with brother Trevor, throughout the summer. He also played for the Christian Brothers Academy summer team posting 7 goals and 4 assists in 8 games. There are recent indications that BvR has taken his hockey skills to a new level. In their review of the Beantown Fall Classic last month, U.S. Hockey Report described BvR's power play performance as "fantastic" and they concluded that his game has "really taken a step forward".

The Future

Mr. van Riemsdyk indicated that Brendan will definitely play this season for Christian Brothers Academy. Next year, there is a possibility that Brendan will play in the Eastern Junior Hockey League. Mr. van Riemsdyk was very pleased with Trevor's personal growth, both on and off the ice, when he played for Coach Sean Tremblay and the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in the EJHL. Coach Tremblay is now with the EJHL's Islanders Hockey Club based in Tyngsboro, MA. Brendan's target for enrolling at UNH will be worked out in the coming months. Given that he is a 1996-born player, arrival in either the fall of 2015 or 2016 is likely.

Back in November, 2005, James was the first of the van Riemsdyk brothers to commit to the University of New Hampshire. At the time, JvR was the #2 pick in the NHL Entry Draft. I asked Mr. van Riemsdyk what attracted JvR to the UNH hockey program. He explained that there were three key factors. James, being from a town more than an hour from major cities, really liked the location of the UNH campus. Second, James liked the idea of maneuvering around the olympic-sized rink at the Whittemore Center. Finally, JvR wanted to play the UNH style of hockey which emphasizes skating, passing, and transitions. UNH was a good fit for JvR and TvR is obviously thriving in Durham. Brendan won't be far behind.


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