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.


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