14-Year-Old Goalie Drew Commesso Commits to UNH
|2020 UNH Commit|
Well-worn sports sayings are often true. For example, "You can't win the blank championship without blank." Fill in the blanks - World Series/premiere starting pitchers, NFL/an elite quarterback, Stanley Cup/an all-star goalie, etc.
In the history of the UNH hockey program, premiere goaltending has been a key ingredient in many championship seasons. All-American Ty Conklin backstopped the 1999 Hockey East title winner and NCAA runnerup. All-American Mike Ayers was in net for the 2002 and 2003 Hockey East Champions, 2002 Frozen Four team, and 2003 NCAA runnerup. All-American Kevin Regan lead the 2007-08 Wildcats to a 25-10-3 record and the Hockey East title. All-American Brian Foster tended goal on consecutive trips to the 2009 and 2010 NCAA Regional Finals.
No wonder the UNH coaching staff are always on the lookout for the next elite goalie. They hope Mike Robinson, who was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in 2015 and plans to enroll next fall, will be that goaltender for the rest of this decade. And on Sunday, UNH gained a verbal commitment from a top prospect who may very well develop into an elite NCAA goaltender early in the 2020's. 14-year-old Drew Commesso (DOB: 7-19-2002) from Norwell, Massachusetts has verbally accepted an athletic scholarship offer from UNH with an eye to enrolling in the Fall of 2020.
The last three weeks have been extraordinarily eventful for Drew Commesso (pronounced CO-MESS-O). Over the second weekend in November, the 6'0", 140 lbs., left-catch goalie and the South Shore Kings U14 team won the 2016-17 Massachusetts Hockey State Championship. The Kings defeated three other bantam teams and Commesso earned a shutout in all three games. The team will travel to Scottsdale, Arizona in April for the 2017 USA Hockey National Championship.
St. Sebastian's Goalie
The third big event came two days later when Drew Commesso announced his commitment to enroll at the University of New Hamphire and play for the UNH Wildcats. For the remainder of the New England Prep season, which extends into early March, Drew will play exclusively for St. Sebastian's. An interesting sidenote - former UNH All-American goalie Kevin Regan played for St. Sebastian's from 1999 to 2003. They won the 2001 and 2002 New England Prep School Championship.
BackgroundAs Drew tells us in the interview at the end of this article, he has played goalie full-time since he was 8 years old. Along the way, he has played in some of the top invitational youth events in North America. A couple weeks before his 10th birthday, Commesso played in the 2012 Brick Invitational Tournament in Edmonton, Alberta. Beginning in 1990, The Brick has brought together the top 10-year-old skaters from the U.S. and Canada. Commesso played in 3 games for the Boston Junior Bruins and posted a 2-1-0 record with a 1.68 Goals Against Average and .886 Save Percentage.
In the 2014-15 season, Drew Commesso played for the Bay State Breakers 02 Pee-Wee Elite team based in Rockland, Massachusetts. His Dad, John Commesso, was the team's assistant coach. The Breakers compete in the Eastern Hockey Federation. Because the Breakers Pee-Wee team was in first place in the EHF in December, 2014, they received an invitation to the 2015 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, considered the Little League World Series of hockey. At the "Q" in February, 2015, they competed against teams from Quebec, Los Angeles, New York, and Arizona. The Breakers compiled a 3-2-0 record and finished in 4th place. Drew was in goal for every game and posted a 1.375 Goals Against Average. A month later, the Breakers won the EHF 2002 Elite Championship.
This year, Drew Commesso has been recognized nationally for his individual skills. Last summer, he was invited to the STX 68 Hockey Combine in Chicago. The STX 68 invites the top 68 14-year-old players from the United States to a five-day camp of coaching from NHL affiliated players, coaches, and scouts, seminars, skills and conditioning testing, and games. It is a joint venture between STX hockey equipment company and 200 x 85 LLC. Commesso was one of only eight, 2002-born goalies to participate in the camp. Highlights from the STX 68 camp can be seen on a professionally produced series of videos. In many ways, the STX 68 Combine is similar to the Select 14 Camp that USA Hockey stopped running in 2011. Commesso will be eligible for the 2017 USA Hockey Select 15 Player Development Camp next summer.
InterviewI had an opportunity to interview Drew Commesso, via email, about his hockey career and commitment to UNH:
Drew Commesso: Thank you. I am very excited about having the opportunity to play at UNH and in Hockey East. I really connected with the coaches and love how driven they are on bringing a national championship to UNH. The campus was great and the hockey facilities are incredible. I wanted to play at a place where hockey is a big part of the school and community and at a place that gets a ton of fan support at the games. UNH was the perfect fit for me.
Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering? Which schools did you visit and which ones made an offer to you?
Drew Commesso: I visited several area Hockey East schools and had other offers but I felt that UNH was the best fit for me. After visiting a few schools I figured out that I did not want to go to a school with an urban campus so that narrowed my search, and after visiting UNH I knew it was for me. I loved the campus and the coaching staff here was a huge reason I made the decision to come here. I wanted to go to a school that would contend for a national championship and still stay close enough to home that my family can come watch me play.
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?
Commesso: I am still a few years away from getting on campus but I am going to work hard to be on campus for the 2020-2021 season as a freshman. That’s my goal.
Lowry: Did you always play goalie or did you start at a different position and convert to goalie? Why did you decide to be a goaltender?
Commesso: My parents had me skate out until I was about 8 but I still played goalie part time as much as I could. I went to goalie full time at age 8 after I had all the basic skating skills and then I started taking goalie lessons. I became a goalie because the gear intrigued me.
Lowry: When did you start working with former professional goalie Brian Eklund (masscrease.com)? What skill areas has he helped you the most in? What areas are you trying to improve?
Commesso: I started with Coach Eklund when I was about 7 when he just started teaching goalies. He has trained me since day one and taught me everything I know about the position. He is an awesome coach who pushes me to be my best. I am always trying to improve my quickness and I am still learning to use my size to my advantage. I have grown a lot over the last year and adjusting to use my size to cut down angles and take up more of the net so I can better control rebounds has been my focus. There is always something I can improve on and that’s why I love being a goalie.
Lowry: Last month, you helped backstop the South Shore Kings U14 team to the Tier 1 Massachusetts State Championship. What was that experience like for you and what do you think the National Championship Tournament will be like next April?
Commesso: That was a lot of fun. We have a great team and the coaches make it fun to play for them. I think the Nationals will be a great event and I look forward to playing against the best teams in the country.
Lowry: Former UNH All-American Kevin Regan was a star goalie at St. Sebastian's School in Needham, MA, 15 years ago. What are the main reasons you decided to go to St. Seb's this year and join the hockey team as a freshman?
Commesso: I actually started St. Seb’s as a 7th grader so this is my third year at the school. St. Seb’s is a great school and I love everything about it. It was always my goal to make the varsity team as a freshman since I entered the school in 7th grade. St. Seb’s has a great hockey tradition and that’s something I hope our team can build on.
Lowry: In your very first New England Prep School game last week, you entered the game in the second period with St. Seb's trailing 3-0. You turned aside all 20 shots on goal and earned your first win. What was that like?
Commesso: That was a lot of fun. I was surprised to get the call to start the second period but once I got on the ice I just stayed focused and did my best to stop pucks and just play like I normally do. The team really played great in front of me and the defense helped out a ton. It was a great team win for us coming back from a 3-0 deficit. It will be a game I will always remember that’s for sure!
Lowry: Do you plan to play for both the South Shore Kings U14 and St. Seb's for the rest of this season?
Commesso: No. I will be playing strictly for St. Sebs until the season is over then I will be rejoining the Kings so we can prepare for the Nationals.
Lowry: It's still early in your hockey career, but do you anticipate playing junior hockey (e.g., USHL, BCHL, etc.) before you enroll in college?
Commesso: I hope to come to UNH as a true freshman but that will depend on how my development goes and what the coaches have planned for me. I will be working hard everyday so that I can wear the UNH jersey as soon as possible.
Lowry: What are your academic strengths and interests? When do you anticipate graduating from high school?
Commesso: I would say my strengths are math, english, and writing. I plan on graduating in 2020.