Thursday, February 12, 2015

Buffalo Native Frankie Cefalu Commits to UNH

Frankie Cefalu
High-Scoring EHL Forward

Over the last decade, two high-scoring forwards from Buffalo, NY, who played prep school hockey at the Nichols School, committed to play at UNH and went on to enjoy success as a Wildcat. In January, 2006, Phil DeSimone, a native of East Amherst, NY, committed to play for UNH. After playing for Nichols in his freshman and sophomore years, DeSimone spent a highly successful, three-year tenure with the Sioux City Musketeers in the United States Hockey League. The year before he enrolled at UNH, DeSimone was the second-leading scorer in the USHL (26G, 47A) and was named the 2007 USHL Player of the Year. In his four years at UNH, DeSimone scored 107 points and earned membership in the Century Club.

Then, in February, 2011, Andrew Poturalski committed to UNH. At the time, the Williamsville, NY native was a junior at the Nichols School and their leading scorer. Poturalski finished his junior season with 21 goals and 10 assists in 18 games and lead the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association (CISAA) in scoring. After playing for the Buffalo Junior Sabres during his senior year in high school, he played two full seasons with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the USHL. Last season, Poturalski scored 29 goals and 38 assists in 64 RoughRider games and was the 6th leading scorer in the USHL. Poturalski is having an outstanding freshman season at UNH. So far, in 28 games, he has scored 11 goals and 11 assists and is tied for 4th in scoring among all Hockey East freshmen. Interestingly, DeSimone posted 3 goals and 10 assists in 38 games as a UNH freshman.

Two weeks ago, another high-scorer who hails from Buffalo announced his verbal commitment to UNH. 5'11", 170 lbs. right-shot forward Frankie Cefalu (Pronounced CHEF-alu) is in the midst of a successful second season with the Walpole Express of the Eastern Hockey League. In 40 games, Cefalu (DOB: 3/13/1995) has scored 17 goals, including 2 game-winners, and added 39 assists. He is currently tied for the lead in EHL scoring and has the most assists. With 4 games remaining in the regular season, Walpole has clinched the EHL North Division and has the 5th most points in the nineteen-team league.

Last season, as an 18-year-old rookie in the EHL, Frankie Cefalu registered 9 goals and 46 assists in 42 regular season games and was the 5th-leading scorer in the league. His 1 assist per game pace translated into the most assists in the EHL.

In the announcement of Cefalu's commitment to UNH, Walpole Express head coach Jonathan Lounsbury described what makes him a top player in the EHL:
"He makes plays and sees the ice better than anyone I’ve ever coached. He does things other players can’t do, it’s as simple as that. He’s so tough to play against, because you never know what he’s going to do. He’s a threat every time the puck’s on his stick.”
These video highlights from this season show what Coach Lounsbury is talking about. Cefalu is #13.

Like Phil DeSimone and Andrew Poturalski, Frankie Cefalu was a top player at the Nichols School in Buffalo. In his senior year at Nichols, Cefalu lead his team and the CISAA in scoring in both the regular season (10G, 12A, 15 Games) and playoffs (3G, 5A, 6 Games). Current UNH standout freshman Warren Foegele was a junior at St. Andrew's College in that 2012-13 season and he was the second-leading scorer in the CISAA. Here is a highlight reel of Frankie Cefalu's (#22) senior season at the Nichols School:

I had an opportunity to interview Frankie, 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?
Frankie Cefalu: UNH is an outstanding school with one of the best hockey programs in the Nation. After speaking to the coaches and visiting the school, I felt like it was a perfect fit for me. I attended the UNH vs. Maine game and it was everything I had hoped it would be. The coaching staff is very well respected and I am honored to be a part of such a program and institution.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering?
Frankie Cefalu: I have spoken to and visited several schools; however, once I knew UNH was interested, I looked no further. This is exactly where I want to be.

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?
Cefalu: At this point we do not have an exact date. It could be Fall 2015 or 2016.

Lowry: In your second season with the Walpole Express, you are the leading scorer in the Eastern Hockey League with 17 goals and 39 assists in 40 games. At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?
Cefalu: I believe the strengths of my game are my hockey IQ, play making ability, and my compete level. I was a late bloomer, so I had to really develop my skills and sense for the game to be competitive. I feel fortunate that I had to overcome size at a young age as it gave me the tools necessary to compete at high level hockey today.
As far as areas I would like to improve...I would say I am always working to improve every part of my game. In order to continue to be successful, you have to keep improving. There is no end to that.

Lowry: You completed your junior and senior years at the Nichols School in your hometown of Buffalo, NY. UNH freshman Andrew Poturalski, a native of Williamsville just outside Buffalo, also graduated from Nichols the year before you arrived. Do you know Andrew and did you play with or against him when you were growing up?
Cefalu: I have known Andrew for most of my hockey life playing in Buffalo NY. Everyone knew Andrew, he was always one of the best players in the area. I didn't get a chance to play with him at Nichols. However, we played together on the same line for the past two years for a summer league in Buffalo. He is dynamic player and I feel we complement each other very well.
The Summer League is called Fattey Hockey League. Many college, international, and pro players from the area participate in the league. It's a great way to play competitive hockey and stay sharp for the Winter season. Players such as Patrick Kane, Zemgus Girgensons, Corey Conacher and Cole Schneider all participate, just to name a few. Last season, we had the pleasure of playing Pat Kane's team for the cup.

Lowry: In the 2012-13 season, as a senior at Nichols, you lead the Conference Of Independent Schools Athletic Association in scoring with 10 goals and 12 assists in 15 games. UNH fans will recognize the second leading scorer in the CISAA that season - current UNH freshman Warren Foegele. In fact, Foegele and the St. Andrew's College Saints defeated the Nichols School for the CISAA Championship and Foegele scored the overtime goal in the final game. What do you remember most about that season and playoff series?
Cefalu: That was my Senior year and all year we battled St. Andrews for the top spot. St. Andrews ended up #1, edging us out by 1 point. Only fitting that we both meet in the Championship round. The first game we lost in OT...The second we won...sending the final game back to St. Andrews.
It was one of the toughest, hard fought games I can remember. Both teams wanted the title and gave it their best. I remember the game being tied at 1 until late in the third period. I also remember the awesome feeling I felt when I was able to put Nichols in the lead with just a few minutes left in the game. The whole team was excited, but also knew we had to hold them off to be champs.
It came down to seconds left in the game and a face off in our end. The face off stayed neutral until a St. Andrews players jumped up on it and slapped it 5 hole to send it into OT. We both fought hard in the OT period, but eventually St. Andrews scored the winner....Warren Foegle! It was a hard fought battle and one I will always remember.

Lowry: When you signed with the Walpole Express in the summer of 2013, your coach Jonathan Lounsbury said you had a successful tryout with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League and would likely play for them after a year with Walpole. What factors lead you to play another season (i.e., this season) with Walpole instead of playing for Omaha?
Cefalu: My first year playing for Walpole was better than expected. The coaching I received and the level of play in the league was fantastic and helped me really hone my skills and team play. Our team was young, but very hard working. I was fortunate to finish 5th in the league in points that year and could see the following year was going to be even better for our team.
I believed in my coach and the league (EHL). The league is very well run and one I was proud to be part of it. In the end, Walpole made my decision easy to stay another year and I am glad I did as everything went as planned. Our team just clinched 1st place in our division and we're looking forward to a successful playoff run.

Lowry: After graduating from the Nichols School, have you continued to attend academic classes? What major do you plan to pursue at UNH?
Cefalu: After Nichols, I have taken a couple classes through a Community College near home to stay sharp. I plan to study business at UNH with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. I am interested in Real Estate and would like to acquire the necessary skills at UNH to help make me successful.


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