Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ryan Verrier, Mass High School Star, Commits to UNH

2018 or '19 UNH Commit
Ryan Verrier

UNH hockey has a long tradition of attracting top high school talent from the northern suburbs of Boston. The last time UNH competed in the National Championship game (April, 2003), they were lead by two former stars from Reading, MA. NCAA All-Americans Steve Saviano and Sean Collins both excelled at Reading High School before their successful college and professional careers. Other notables, from the 1970's and 80's, include All-Americans Bob Miller (Billerica HS), Tim Burke and Andy Brickley (Melrose HS).

In recent years, the high school hockey landscape in Massachusetts has changed. While several Catholic high schools maintain their competitive tradition, some public high school teams have become less potent. A subset of talented prospects who might have played for their local high school 10 years ago are now more likely to join full season, Under-16 and 18 hockey programs such as the Junior Bruins or Islanders Hockey Club, enroll in New England Prep Schools and/or play in junior hockey leagues such as the USHL or USPHL. However, there are still highly skilled hockey players from Massachusetts high schools with the potential to excel in NCAA Division I.

UNH Head Coach Dick Umile and Associate Head Coach Mike Souza both excelled at suburban high schools north of Boston before starring at UNH. Umile graduated from Melrose High School and Souza from neighboring Wakefield HS. They continue to be on the lookout for the most talented high schoolers from that area. For example, Ara Nazarian, who was UNH's 8th leading scorer (7 goals, 7 assists, 2 GWG) as a freshman last season, was a three-year standout at Malden Catholic High School. In his sophomore year at MC, Nazarian was named the Most Valuable Massachusetts High School Hockey Player (i.e., "Mr. Hockey") by ESPNBoston.

Defenseman Ryan Verrier
Austin Prep Star
Last week, UNH gained a commitment from another high school all-star from Boston's northern 'burbs. Ryan Verrier (pronounced: very-er), a 5'11', 175 lbs. defenseman from Reading, Massachusetts, has committed for the Fall of either 2018 or '19. Verrier (DOB: 3-19-1998) recently completed a three-year career at Austin Preparatory School, a Catholic middle and high school also located in Reading. In his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons, the Austin Prep Cougars qualified for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Super 8 Championship Tournament. Austin Prep advanced to the 2014 Super 8 Championship Game but lost to Ara Nazarian and the Malden Catholic Lancers.

During his three seasons with Austin Prep, Verrier was guided by veteran coach Lou Finocchiaro. Last year, in his 11th year at Austin Prep, Finocchiaro was inducted into the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Verrier's offensive production steadily increased culminating in his banner season as a junior. Over the course of the 22-game, regular season, Verrier scored 11 goals and added 16 assists. He was the leading scorer on the Austin Prep squad and earned several accolades.

Verrier was named to the 2016 Boston Globe Boys Hockey All-Scholastic "Dream Team" - the top 6 players in D-IA. He was also selected by the Boston Herald for their 2016 All-Scholastic Team. ESPNBoston chose Verrier to the second team MIAA All-State Boys Team and wrote:
"Verrier has proven to be one of the best two-way defenders in the state over his career, as the junior used his speed to score 15 goals, which lead all Div. 1 defensemen. He is just as influential on the defensive side of the puck, as the Cougars defense excelled at limiting shots on net."
During his freshman and sophomore seasons, Verrier was a teammate of another UNH commit - Eric MacAdams. MacAdams, a right-shot forward from Salem, MA, was a year ahead of Verrier and also played three seasons with Austin Prep. He too had an outstanding final season as a junior. He was the captain at Austin Prep and lead the team in scoring with 19 goals and 23 assists in 24 games. At the end of the season, the Boston Herald selected MacAdams to the All-Scholastic Hockey "Dream Team". MacAdams is beginning his second season with the Sioux Falls Stampede and is on track to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2017.

Ryan Verrier has transferred to the Salisbury School in the northwest corner of Connecticut for his senior year of high school. He will join the powerhouse Salisbury School Crimson Knights for the 2016-17 season. Salisbury has won the New England Prep School Championship 5 out of the last 10 years including three in a row in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Scouting Report from Neutral Zone**

"Ryan has established himself as one of the top defensemen in MA high school hockey. He is an elite skater with good edges and a quick first step. He is excellent on the power play and can skate or pass the puck out of his zone. He defends with his skating and good positioning. The 1998 plays a ton and is fun to watch and he can control the tempo of a game. He improved in the last year and should continue that trend. The Reading native will take his skills to Salisbury in 2016."
Rating - 3 1/2 out 5 Stars.

** Reprinted by permission of Brendan Collins, Director of Scouting at Neutral Zone.

I had an opportunity to interview Ryan Verrier, via email, about his hockey career and commitment to UNH:

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?

Ryan Verrier: Being from the Boston area, I grew up dreaming about playing in Hockey East. As I got older, I made playing in this league my goal and from that point forward, all the hours I put in on and off the ice was to reach and achieve this goal.
When I got to UNH for my visit I immediately fell in love with the campus and the hockey facilities. UNH has a tremendous hockey history and I have always been impressed with the hockey program but what really excited me was the future the coaching staff saw for the program, in particular the culture and commitment to winning.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering? Which schools did you visit and which ones made an offer to you?

Ryan Verrier: I visited UCONN, UNH, Merrimack, UMASS Amherst, St. Lawrence, Cornell, and Holy Cross and received offers from 4 of these schools.

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?

Verrier: The target date to enter UNH is fall of 2019, with the possibility of 2018.

Lowry: At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?

Verrier: My strengths as a hockey player are my skating, poise with the puck, vision and puck movement, and consider myself to be strong both offensively and defensively. Over the next couple of years I will continue to focus in both ends of the ice as well as my general strength and conditioning.

Lowry: You recently finished a three-year playing career at Austin Prep School under the guidance of Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Famer Lou Finocchiaro. What are the most important lessons you learned from Coach Finocchiaro?

Verrier: I have actually been with Coach Lou since I was 8 years old playing with the Middlesex Islanders Squirts and continued right though my junior year at Austin Prep. Over these many years, he has taught me that respect and integrity are must haves and everything is earned by hard work and commitment both on and off the ice. He has also taught me not only what it takes to be the best hockey player I can be but how to be a good person as well.

Lowry: You decided to transfer to the Salisbury School for your senior year. What factors went into that decision?

Verrier: I decided to go to Salisbury for my senior year because I wanted to challenge myself and try something new. I wanted the experience of living away and being responsible for everything I do, both in the community, classroom and on the ice. Importantly, I was also very excited for the opportunity to create new relationships, with people from all over the world, that will last a lifetime. Lastly, I felt it was a natural progression in my development as a hockey player to play in prep school before moving on to junior hockey.

Lowry: Do you plan to play in either the United States Hockey League or British Columbia Hockey League before you come to UNH?

Verrier: At this point, I do see playing either in the USHL or BCHL as an important step after Salisbury. Either league would give me the opportunity to get stronger, leverage and continue to develop my strengths as well as improve in necessary areas of my game so I can be that impact player when I arrive at UNH.

Lowry: What are your academic strengths and interests?

Verrier: My academic strengths are Math and Science and would plan to study business at UNH.


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