Friday, October 17, 2014

High-scoring Liam Blackburn Commits to UNH

UNH Recruit Liam Blackburn

Over the last two decades, some of the top scorers in the British Columbia Hockey League have come to play for the University of New Hampshire. UNH players who finished in the top 5 in BCHL scoring include Hobey Baker Award Winner Jason Krog (2nd, 1994-95), Lanny Gare (3rd, 1998-99), Nathan Martz (3rd, 1999-00), Brett Hemingway (Tie-5th, 2002-03), and Michael McNicholas (5th, 2013-14).

Last week, UNH received a verbal commitment from another high-scoring forward from the BCHL. 18-year-old Liam Blackburn (DOB: 6-8-1996), a 5'10", 167 lbs. center from Prince George, British Columbia (the same hometown as current UNH junior Dan Correale) committed to UNH with a target to enroll either next fall or the Fall of 2016. Blackburn plays for the West Kelowna Warriors and is currently the leading scorer in the BCHL with 6 goals and 11 assists in just 9 games. As the center for the Warriors first power play unit, Blackburn has scored 3 power play goals and he has added a short-handed goal.

As a BCHL rookie last season, Liam Blackburn posted 17 goals and 26 assists in 47 regular season games. 6 of his goals were game-winners - the second highest among all BCHL players. While the Warriors were eliminated in the first round of the 2013-14 BCHL Playoffs, Blackburn scored 2 goals and 2 assists in the six playoff games.

Liam Blackburn has been a prolific scorer at each level of his youth hockey career. In the 2012-13 season with the Cariboo Cougars, Blackburn was the second leading scorer in the British Columbia Major Midget League. His 35 goals and 50 assists in 40 regular season games paved the way for selection to the BCMML All-Star Team. In November 2012, the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League added Blackburn to their protected list. When he was 15 years old, Blackburn played for the Prince George Cougars in the British Columbia Midget Tier 1 League. He scored 38 goals and 53 assists in 50 games in the 2011-12 season.

I had an opportunity to interview Liam, 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?
Liam Blackburn: Some of the main reasons I chose UNH included the campus, which I thought was gorgeous. I also like that the team plays in Hockey East, the travel is simple and allows less absences from class. I also feel the style of play will fit me best and the olympic ice size will benefit me.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering?
Liam Blackburn: I had considered a few other schools such as Nebraska Omaha, Merrimack, and Penn State. I visited a couple schools but after my visit to UNH there were no schools in competition..

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?
Blackburn: The target date on my freshman year is still undecided, it will either be 2015-2016 or 2016-2017.

Lowry: After being a leading scorer in the British Columbia Major Midget League, you decided to play for the West Kelowna Warriors in the BCHL. What kind of adjustments did you make when you moved up to Junior A hockey?
Blackburn: There were some adjustments that had to be made with the jump. I was playing against older stronger guys, really the hardest thing to adjust to was the speed of the game. After the first couple months of the season, my confidence grew and I fell into some good ice time and a lot of chances to succeed. I really worked on foot speed and being able to win battles against bigger guys.

Lowry: You've been a prolific scorer wherever you've played. What are the current strengths of your game and what areas are you working to improve?
Blackburn: The strengths in my game are that I am a threat as a playmaker and as a scorer. When you can do both it makes you more of a threat which is how I have tried to base my game around. My biggest strength in hockey is my smarts in the game. I can read the play well and see plays before they happen. I would like to work on shot power, foot speed and strength specifically over the next few years.

Lowry: In November, 2012, the Victoria Royals of the WHL added you to their protected list. Do you have any interest in foregoing the NCAA route and playing major junior hockey in Canada?
Blackburn: I have full commitment to continue in the NCAA as I feel it is the route for me to best succeed in becoming a better hockey player.

Lowry: When do you plan to graduate from high school? What are your academic strengths?
Blackburn: I graduated from high school summer of 2014. I am interested in sciences especially biology.


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