Tuesday, August 14, 2018

All in the Family: David Sacco Commits to UNH

David Sacco
2021 or '22 UNH Commit
"David Sacco hits everything that moves and displays offensive savvy by finding open ice..Good reach & strong puck possessor with upside." Mark Bilotta, Neutral Zone
"David was all over the ice tonight. He was physical, smart, we counted on him to kill off power plays, and he had multiple chances to score, cashing in twice." Kristian Hanson, Head Coach, St. John's Prep
In the late 1980's and early 1990's, the Sacco brothers from Medford, Massachusetts - Joe and David - helped lead the Boston University Terriers to three Frozen Four appearances. Joe Sacco scored a point-a-game in three BU seasons then played 8 full seasons in the NHL. David Sacco was a two-time All-American and is the second-leading BU scorer of all time. He also played in 35 NHL games.

One generation later, the namesake sons of Joe and David Sacco have chosen do pursue their college education and hockey career at the University of New Hampshire. In the winter of 2016, Joe Sacco Jr. committed to UNH and he will be a sophomore with the Wildcats this coming season. Joe Sacco played in 19 games his freshman year at UNH and tallied a key assist in the opening round Game 3 of the Hockey East Playoffs. Last year, Joe suffered a season-ending injury after two games and was granted a medical hardship, redshirt year. He is set to return to the UNH lineup as a sophomore this season.

Last Wednesday, 16-year-old David Sacco Jr. (DOB: 1/3/2002) announced his verbal commitment to UNH. He is on track to enroll at UNH in either the Fall of 2021 or '22. Over the last two seasons, David attended St. John's Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts. As a freshman in the 2016-17 season, David played center for the St. John's Eagles and scored 8 goals and 1 assist in 22 games.

Last year, the 6'0", 180 lbs., right-shot center had a breakout season upping his scoring to 11 goals and 12 assists in 20 regular season games and adding a goal and 2 assists in St. John's Prep's 4-game run in the Massachusetts High School Super 8 Tournament. The Eagles advanced to the quarterfinals of the Super 8 Tourney.

In the opening round, St. John's downed Burlington High School 5-3. Trailing 1-0 in the opening period, David Sacco got St. John's on the scoreboard with a one-timer wrist shot from the low slot. This video shows the sequence of play leading up to Sacco's goal. It begins with Sacco (#16 White Jersey) blocking a shot in front of his goalie, carrying the puck into the Burlington zone, working a give-and-go with right-winger Zach Mckenelley, and missing a wrist shot just wide of the goal. The puck briefly leaves the Burlington zone but left-winger Patrick Moran retrieves it in the neutral zone, carries it down the right side, and centers a pretty pass to Sacco who buries it.

In May, after St. John's season ended, David Sacco competed at the Massachusetts High Performance Festival in hopes of earning an invitation to the 2018 USA Hockey Selects 16 Player Development Camp. Scouts from Neutral Zone attended the festival and provided this assessment of Sacco:
"Sacco put up a solid season for the Super 8 bound St. John’s Prep Eagles and now he will join Lawrence Academy for the following year. Here he showed a nice combination of strength and savvy to earn a spot in Nationals. He did not hesitate to finish his checks here, both in open ice and along the boards, using his size. Beyond his strength and bite, he thinks the game well and analyzes where the best opportunities are in the offensive end. He allows the play to develop and capitalizes when he finds the soft ice. Has good reach thanks to his size and uses it well in puck possession. Lots of potential upside as he continues to mature."
Last month, Sacco traveled to Amherst, New York to play against the top 2002-born American players at the 2018 Selects 16 Camp. Once again, the Neutral Zone scouts evaluated the competitors and provided this assessment of Sacco:
"Sacco is a strong, athletic, rugged power forward who plays a man’s game. He hits everything that moves and he goes into corners and comes out with the puck. He hit one player so hard that their helmet came off. With that being said he found himself in the penalty box regularly and took a dumb offensive zone penalty and then chirped the ref all the way to the box. He needs to improve his puck handling ability, particularly at full speed and his overall skill level but he’s got a nice edge to his game and strong frame to really pack a punch when he lowers his shoulder and delivers a check. He scored a really nice deke goal in alone on the goalie and finished the week with a 1-2-3 line in 5 games."


I had an opportunity to interview David Sacco, 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?

David Sacco: I decided on UNH for a few reasons. Including I’ve been to many games up at UNH and the place is always rockin. It’s a great atmosphere every night and I’ve wanted to play in front of a crowd like that my whole life. Also I really love the coaching staff at UNH right now. Ever since the start, me and Coach Souza really clicked. I am looking forward to playing for him and the rest of the staff up at UNH.

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

David Sacco: I visited both BU and UNH and both schools had offered me. However even though my dad went to BU, UNH was the school for me.

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?

Sacco: Me and the coaching staff have decided on going to UNH right out of high school or maybe after one year of juniors depending on my progress over the next few years.

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

Sacco: I love to be physical on the ice and don’t care who I’m playing. I go out every shift and give it my all. I like my defensive play as a center man and also being able to put up points. I also believe I have good hockey IQ which helps a lot. I would like to work on my quickness a little bit and also make my hands a little bit quicker.

Lowry: Last season, as a sophomore center with St. John's Prep, you scored 12 goals and 14 assists in 23 games. Have you always played center? How would you describe your skills in the core areas of a centerman (e.g., faceoffs, passing, forechecking, and assisting your defensemen below the faceoff circles)?

Sacco: For the majority of my life I have been a center. Some games I’ve been put on wing however I’m much more comfortable as a center. I believe I help out the defenders a lot in our own end and also as a center when I receive the puck I feel I’m able to get the puck out of our end and get it up the ice quick for an offensive chance.

Lowry: Your Dad, Dave Sacco - an All-American at Boston University, 1994 US Olympian, and NHL player - was the coach of your mite hockey team and is currently a youth hockey coach with the Valley Junior Warriors. What's the best piece of hockey advice he's given you?

Sacco: My dad has given me so much advice throughout my career so far it’s hard to choose just one. But the one that always stuck with me is have a good mindset. Be confident, no matter who uour playing ,you treat it like it’s game seven of the Stanley cup final. If you go into a game thinking your going to kill the other team, most of the time you get caught sleeping and the other team can surprise you.

Lowry: This upcoming season, you are transferring from St. John's Prep to Lawrence Academy in the New England Prep School League. What factors lead to this decision?

Sacco: I decided to transfer because I felt like the hockey at the prep school level was a lot more advanced and that I needed to push myself a lot more leading up to my college career.

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

Sacco: I’m not positive if I will have to play juniors or not. However, if I did have to play a year, my goal would to play in either the BCHL or the USHL.

Lowry: When do you plan to graduate from high school? What are your academic strengths and interests? Have you thought about what you might major in when you enroll at UNH?

Sacco: I plan on graduating either after my junior year or senior year because I’m repeating my sophomore year. I have always been a big math guy in school and would want to major in business, most likely finance.

Lowry: You were diagnosed with Type I diabetes when you were 9 years old. [NOTE: Here's a link to an informative interview with David and his mother Liz Sacco on living with diabetes.] What has it been like to manage your condition while playing the physically demanding sport of hockey?

Sacco: Having Type I diabetes in most people’s eyes puts me at a disadvantage. However I have learned how to play with diabetes and I don’t let it get in my way. I like to prove people wrong and the people that say I’m at a disadvantage just makes me want to work ten times harder to make sure they are wrong.


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