Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Joey Cipollone Commits to UNH

17-year-old Forward Joey Cipollone

It's been a month of milestones for Joey Cipollone (pronounced Sip-ih-LOAN) of the South Kent School (Connecticut) and Selects Hockey Academy team. The first came in early March at the United States Premiere Hockey League U16 Playoffs held at Merrimack College. Cipollone, a 5'9", 155 lbs. forward, and his Selects Hockey Academy teammates finished the USPHL U16 regular season in first place with a perfect record of 29-0-0. Cipollone was the team's second leading scorer with 14 goals and 25 assists. He was selected to the USPHL U16 All-Star team in January.

In the USPHL Playoffs, the Cardinals maintained their perfect season, winning all three games including the 5-3 victory over the Jersey Hitmen in the Championship Game. Cipollone scored the Selects' first goal and assisted on the game-winner. Overall, his three goals in three playoff games tied him for the USPHL lead and he was tied for 2nd in scoring with 6 points.

Last Saturday was another memorable day for Joey Cipollone. On his 17th birthday, he accepted a verbal offer from the University of New Hampshire with the goal of enrolling in the Fall of 2016 and playing for the Wildcats in the 2016-17 season. Cipollone becomes the fourth South Kent alum to have committed to UNH. Graduating senior forward Jeff Silengo and former goalie Tyler Scott played at South Kent. Also, 2014 recruit Jason Salvaggio was the Alternate Captain on the 2012-13 Selects Hockey Academy U18 team. Other notable alumni of the South Kent School are Hobey Baker top-10 finalist Shayne Gostisbehere, a junior at Union College and 3rd Round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers and Anthony Florentino, a freshman at Providence College and 5th Round pick of the Buffalo Sabres.

Winning your league championship, having a birthday, and accepting a scholarship offer to play college hockey. That's an impressive list of accomplishments for one month. But Joey Cipollone isn't done yet. He and his Selects U16 teammates have just arrived in Green Bay, Wisconsin to compete in the USA Hockey Tier I National Championships. Last November, the South Kent School's U16 Team earned a berth in the National Championship by winning the New England Regional Championship. They downed the rival Connecticut Wolfpack in overtime.

This is Joey Cipollone's second year playing for the Selects Hockey Academy U16 team. In the 2011-12 season, Cipollone, who is from Purchase, New York, played for the Connecticut Wolfpack Bantam Major team. In 40 regular season games, he scored 35 goals and 36 assists and was selected to the Atlantic Youth Hockey League All-Star Team. Interestingly, 2015 UNH Recruit Joseph Masonius also played in that All-Star Game representing the New Jersey Rockets.

I had an opportunity to interview Joey, via email, about his background, commitment to UNH, and future plans:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?
Joey Cipollone: Thank you, it is definitely an exciting time right now for both my family and me. Deciding to commit to a school is a significant decision, but the University of New Hampshire gave me countless reasons to trust this is the right choice for me and will be a great fit.
The main reason I chose UNH is because it will offer me many opportunities to succeed, not just on the ice, but in the classroom as well. The hockey program, with its countless accomplishments, speaks for itself. And, the style of the UNH hockey team as a whole will fit my game perfectly.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering?
Joey Cipollone: Over the past year I visited several schools, but my decision ultimately came down to UNH and Providence College. I'm confident this coaching staff and program will take my game to the next level, and know that I will be getting a great education at the same time.

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?
Cipollone: Yes, right now the plan is for me to play one year of junior hockey after my senior year, and then enroll for the fall of 2016.

Lowry: You just completed a very successful season with the Selects Academy winning the USPHL 16U Championship. At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?
Cipollone: I think one of my strong points is my ability to see the ice and create plays. I try to think the game when I'm out there but I also think I play well below the goal line. An area that I put continuous effort and work into is my skating. Being one of the smaller players, I need to have the speed and strength to get around guys bigger than me. This summer I'm planning on making huge strides in this area.

Lowry: Your Selects Academy U16 team won the New England Regional Championship last November and is set to compete for the USA Hockey National Championship in Green Bay, Wisconsin later this week. What does it mean to compete in and possibly win the U16 National Championship?
Cipollone: The last time a moment as big as this occurred for me was when I was playing in the 2010 Nationals in Buffalo as a member of the Westchester Express hockey program. We ended up losing in the semifinal game, which was somewhat disappointing giving the great amount of effort our team put forth.
I am so excited and grateful to have yet another opportunity at winning a national championship. It means a lot to our team to make it to nationals, but we're not satisfied with just that. We're going out strong to win the whole thing, and I know I speak for the whole team when I say that anything less will be a great disappointment.

Lowry: Do you plan on returning to Selects Academy to play next season?
Cipollone: As of right now, I have no future plans of leaving Selects Academy. It is a great place to develop as a player and receive a strong education as well.

Lowry: Do you anticipate playing junior hockey before coming to UNH? If so, what leagues would you consider playing in?
Cipollone: That is the plan for me in the future. One year of junior hockey will be a great way to prepare and develop before I head to UNH. The two leagues that I would consider are the USHL and the BCHL.

Lowry: In your time at the South Kent School, what have been your academic strengths?
Cipollone: My biggest academic strength is my work ethic. Even when an assignment is difficult, I put all of my energy into working hard to complete it well. Throughout my whole life though, math always came easily to me and is the subject I enjoy.


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