Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An Eventful Offseason for UNH Recruit Nick Nonis

UNH Recruit Nick Nonis

The prep school hockey career of 18-year-old Nick Nonis (DOB: 12/19/95) ended on a bit of a down note in late February. The 2013-14, regular season record of Governor's Academy, located Byfield, Massachusetts, was 4-23-0. Nonis, a 6'3", 190 lbs. defenseman, was the team's captain in his senior year and he posted 6 goals and an assist in 27 games. Despite the team's losing record, the Boston Globe named Nonis an All Star in the Independent School League, a conference of 16 prep schools in the greater Boston area.

Defenseman Nonis Captained Governor's Academy
Nonis played four years at Governor's Academy under the tutelage of Coach Leon Hayward. He scored 7 goals and 8 assists in 84 varsity games. Back in June, 2013, when Nonis verbally committed to UNH, Coach Hayward offered these observations:
"Nick is a hardworking defenseman that has grown leaps and bounds during his time at Governor's. He played JV as a ninth grader, was our fifth defenseman as a sophomore and played a big role as our number two or three defenseman as an 11th grader...He was about five-feet-nine as a ninth grader and is now six-feet-three-inches. By the time he gets to UNH he could be a monster at about 220lbs...He has strong skating ability who will be a strong puck moving defenseman in college. He can defend and he'll have some offensive upside. Think Adam McQuaid, or Mark White for UNH fans."
In late May, a few days after Nonis graduated from Governor's Academy, the Powell River Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League announced that he had committed to play for them in the 2014-15 season. Nick's hometown is Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. His Dad is Dave Nonis, the Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The elder Nonis, a native of Burnaby, British Columbia, worked for the Vancouver Canucks from 1998 to 2008, rising to the position of General Manager. Nick's familiarity with British Columbia was a factor in his decision to play for Powell River in the BCHL:
"I used to live out west when I was younger playing minor hockey in Delta, so I was familiar with the BCHL and the area and had heard of the Kings before. Then a former team mate of mine (at Governor's Academy), Ryan Scarfo played here last year and had nothing but good things to say about the team, the coaching staff and the town…he basically made my decision for me based on what he said about Powell River.”
Nick Nonis was eligible for the NHL Draft for the first time this June. Though he wasn't selected at the 2014 draft in Philadephia, he was invited by the Anaheim Ducks to participate in their Prospect Development Camp in early July. A highlight for Nonis came early in the scrimmage on the final day of camp. He knocked in a rebound for his squad's first goal of the game.

I had an opportunity to interview Nick, via email, about his experience at the Anaheim Ducks' camp, his background, and his commitment to UNH:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): In early July, you were one of 13 free agents, along with 19 NHL draft picks, to participate in the Anaheim Ducks' Prospect Camp. What was it like to receive the invitation to an NHL camp?
Nick Nonis: It was incredible to have gotten an invitation like that. It felt rewarding to have so much hard work pay off. I was actually caught off guard at first when I got the call but it was very exciting.

Mike Lowry: In an interview at the Chicago Blackhawks' Prospect Camp, former UNH All-American defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk said: "It has been good to see where I am compared to the other guys who are entry-levels too. It is a measuring stick we can look to as the week goes on." How did your skills and performance at the Ducks' camp compare with the other prospects?
Nick Nonis: I think I held my own out there. It was definitely a huge jump in strength, speed and skill compared to prep hockey but I think I was able to adjust quickly and keep up with the other guys out there.

Lowry: You scored a goal in a scrimmage on the final day of camp. How would you describe the scoring play and goal?
Nonis: It was an odd man rush and I jumped in late. I saw a rebound pop out and I just tried to get it back at the net and it ended up going in.

Lowry: Last spring, you graduated from Governor's Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts and finished up a four-year career playing for Coach Leon Hayward. What did you learn from Coach Hayward?
Nonis: I learned a lot from Coach Hayward. From the time he started coaching me my sophomore year, he taught me to hold myself to a higher standard. He expected hard work above anything else. He didn’t only coach me to become a better hockey player, but to become a better all around person. Coach Hayward and Coach McDonnell helped me become a leader as captain my senior year.

Lowry: You recently announced your intention to play for the Powell River Kings in the BCHL next season. Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?
Nonis: As of now we haven’t agreed on a date. If not the 2015-16 season then the year after.

Lowry: What are the main reasons you chose to commit to UNH? What other college programs did you consider?
Nonis: There were a few reasons I chose UNH. I think the biggest reason was I like the big rural campus compared to one in a city or urban area. After seeing a few games at the Whit, I think I knew that's where I wanted to play college hockey. I had a few other options in Hockey East but it really came down to UNH or Northeastern.

Last weekend, Nick Nonis headed off to Powell River for the Kings' training camp. Fans can follow his progress all season long on The UNH Men's Hockey Blog.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Glenn Stewart and the Associate Coach Job at UNH

Glenn Stewart Seen Here as the Merrimack
College Associate Coach (Photo: The Mack Report)

U.S. Hockey Report has just tweeted that:
"Word around the rinks indicates Merrimack assoc. head coach Glenn Stewart will be taking the vacant UNH position. Stewart is a '94 UNH grad."
Glenn Stewart was the UNH Alternate Captain in the 1993-94 season. The UNH Associate Head Coach position recently became available when Jim Tortorella decided to leave behind (at least for now) a long and distinguished coaching career. Tortorella spent 9 years coaching high school hockey in Maine and was the Head Coach of Colby College for 10 years before coming to UNH for the 2011-12 season. He will become the COO at the Foundation House in Portland, Maine, an extended care program for individuals with alcohol and/or drug addiction.

Stewart's Coaching Experience

44-year-old Glenn Stewart (DOB: 7/30/1970), a native of Scarborough, Ontario, has been the Associate Coach, under Mark Dennehy, at Merrimack College for the last 5 years. The major highlight of Stewart's stint with Merrimack was the 2010-11 season. The Warriors advanced to the Hockey East Championship Game, where they lost by 2 to Boston College, and earned a berth in the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time since they joined Hockey East in 1989. Merrimack lost in overtime to Notre Dame in the opening round of the Northeast Regionals.

The 2010-11 Merrimack squad (Overall Record: 25-10-4) was lead by the scoring of future NHLer Stephane Da Costa and the goaltending of Joe Cannata. Just prior to the NCAA Tournament game, Head Coach Mark Dennehy praised Glenn Stewart, along with Assistant Coach Phil Roy, for their level of commitment to recruiting and coaching:
"(Recruiting's) a huge sacrific. My first thanks need to go to Phil’s wife Sonia and Glenn’s wife Bridget. It can put a lot of strain on a relationship and they both have young kids. It’s not easy. As a coach, it’s in your blood to want to get better and as a recruiter you want to be on the road recruiting the best talent you can. They probably don’t travel as much as they would like because I like to have them here for our games. Our commitment is always to the guys we have here. The level of commitment both of these guys have for our program … we wouldn’t be where we are now without them, I can tell you that.”
In his 5 seasons at Merrimack, Stewart worked primarily with the forwards. During his first 3 seasons, he also coached the Warriors penalty kill. He has been in charge of the power play for the last 2 seasons.

In the late summer of 2009, Stewart left his assistant coaching position at the University of Connecticut to join Coach Dennehy at Merrimack College. Stewart worked with Huskies' Head Coach Bruce Marshall for 5 years beginning in the 2004-05 season. At the time, UConn was still in the Atlantic Hockey Conference - they join Hockey East this season. Stewart was the recruiting coordinator during his last three years.

Stewart began his college coaching career at American International College which also is in the AHC. He was an Assistant Coach under Head Coach Gary Wright for one season (2003-04). Stewart was the recruiting coordinator and goalie coach.

Stewart's Playing Career

Long-time UNH fans fondly remember Glenn Stewart's playing days at UNH. Stewart played four full seasons which coincided with the last four years the Wildcats played at beloved Snively Arena. He played for Coach Dick Umile who had become the Head Coach at the beginning of the 1989-90 season. As a sophomore in the 1991-92 season, Stewart scored 15 goals and 11 assists in 37 games and earned the Most Improved Player Award. UNH advanced to the Hockey East Championship game that season but lost to Maine.

In his senior season at UNH (1993-94), Stewart was the Alternate Captain and boosted his scoring totals with 14 goals and 18 assists in 40 games. His UNH career totals of 51 goals and 51 assists earned him a place in the UNH Century Club.

Stewart a Prolific Scorer in Minor Pro Hockey
(Photo: Jeff Cook/Quad City Times)
Glenn Stewart's reputation as a prolific scorer was solidified during his 9-year professional career. In his first two years after UNH, he scored 74 goals with two different teams in the East Coast Hockey League.

In 1996, Stewart began a triumphant 4-year run with the Quad City Mallards in the old United Hockey League (UHL). "Stewie" - as the fans on the Iowa-Illinois border area called him - lead the Mallards to the UHL Championship in 1997 and 1998. They finished runner-up in 1999 and 2000.

In 251 games over four seasons with Quad City, Stewart posted an astonishing 218 goals and 211 assists. In January, 2013, the Mallards' organization invited Stewart to the iWireless Center on the bank of the Mississippi River to retire his #18 to the rafters.

Stewart was called up to the American Hockey League for 10 games in the 2000-01 season and 2 games in the 2001-02 campaign. He scored a couple goals and assists but his AHL career was short-lived. Interestingly, in his next-to-last season, Stewart was the Player Assistant Coach with the New Haven Knights. Stewart played his final season in 2002-03 with the Elmira Jackals of the UHL. In 7 UHL seasons, he compiled 312 goals and 338 assists in 428 games.

One last bit of trivia - From 1996 through 1999, Glenn Stewart played professionally in the Roller Hockey International League. He glided on inline skates in arenas from Anaheim to Vancouver to Long Island to Oklahoma and points in between. And yes, he was proficient at finding the back of the roller hockey net.

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