Friday, May 08, 2015

Liam Blackburn Plans Fall 2016 Arrival at UNH

2016 UNH Recruit
Liam Blackburn

UNH recruit Liam Blackburn has decided to play one more season in the British Columbia Hockey League and become a UNH Wildcat in the Fall of 2016.

The 18-year-old Blackburn (DOB: 6-8-1996), a 5'10", 167 lbs. center from Prince George, British Columbia, signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) with the University of New Hampshire during the early signing period last November. The NLI is a written agreement in which the player agrees to attend the school for at least his freshman year and the school agrees to provide an athletic scholarship for at least the freshman year. In most situations, the prospective scholar-athlete who signs an NLI attends the school the following year. However, he has the option to delay enrollment for one year.

Blackburn had a breakout year in his second season in the BCHL. As a 17-year-old rookie with the West Kelowna Warriors, he scored 19 goals and 28 points in 53 games. This season he increased his goal scoring to 23 and nearly doubled his assists up to 53. During the regular season, he tied for 6th in BCHL scoring and posted the third most assists. On February 15th, Blackburn broke the Warriors' single-season record for most assists. Here's a video of his record-setting assists (he is #26 in the black jersey):

Blackburn verbally committed to UNH on October 7, 2014. When I interviewed him shortly after he committed, he explained his decision:
Warriors' Forward Liam Blackburn
(Photo Credit:  Greystoke Photography)
"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. 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."
Around the same time, in an interview with Kyle Anderson, the Director of Media and Play-by-Play Voice of the West Kelowna Warriors, Liam laid out his thoughts about coming to UNH next season or in the Fall of 2016:
"I'm just trying to make myself the best player possible and whether that's making myself ready for college next year or the year after, I mean, that's a choice I'm probably going to make later in the year. Either way, I don't think there's a wrong choice. An extra year of juniors would be nice to develop physically but mentally, I think I'm prepared to go."
Blackburn's decision to play a third season of junior hockey before coming to UNH is reminiscent of the path chosen by graduating senior Grayson Downing and freshman Andrew Poturalski. Downing, who also played for the Warriors in the BCHL, posted 36 goals and 43 assists in his third season. As a freshman at UNH, he had an immediate impact scoring 10 goals and 13 assists. Poturalski scored 29 goals and 38 assists in his third season with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the United States Hockey League. In his inaugural campaign with UNH this season, he was the Wildcats' 4th-leading scorer with 14 goals and 15 assists. No doubt, Liam hopes to replicate this development path over the next two seasons.


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