Photo by Rena Laverty
In his second season with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, defenseman Eamon Powell has finally hit his stride on the ice. It’s actually a very simple reason why.
“Confidence,” Powell said. “Last year, you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into playing against older and stronger competition. I think this year there is more comfortability. You know your teammates and it helps create a better atmosphere. We are better because of it.”
Powell in fact couldn’t wait to return to Plymouth, Michigan, in late August so he could see his teammates and get the season going.
“It was so easy,” he said. “You missed them. There was a point in the summer where you said I’m ready to go back and see all the guys and get back to work with them. It was something I looked forward to at the end of summer. Being back with them and having the season start, it will keep going and lead us to a good tournament at the end of the year.”
For Powell, it was a May training session that really brought the team together. It was something that helped him connect with his teammates.
“The adversity and how hard the training was really played a factor,” he said. “Everyone was alongside each other and supporting each other and pushing each other through it. Seeing that we were all going through the same thing, it made it that much better. It made us closer as a group.”
He took the same attitude with him when he returned home to Marcellus, New York, during the summer to train and get ready for his Under-18 season. It also helped that he had a current teammate that he could train with to help motivate and push him.
“I was training a lot in the gym,” he said. “I worked out with Luke Tuch since he lives close to me [in Baldwinsville, New York]. I skated three times a week with a skills coach. The working out was something that I wanted to focus on but keeping up with the skill training too. I think it will really pay off this season.
“It’s so nice to have Luke there. We have known each other since third grade. It just makes it so much easier because there is someone from your home going through the same process.”
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound blueliner also took it upon himself to work on developing his shot.
“That was something that I focused on,” he said. “These goalies are bigger and better than youth hockey. You have to find ways to beat them so that is why I focused on that.”
Powell and his U18 teammates are in a midst of playing four of the next six games against college opponents, all on the road, including a trip back to Powell’s home state of New York.
Photo: Rena Laverty
“I’m looking forward to the trip back home to Cornell [Oct. 26] and Canisius [Oct. 27] as I can see a lot of family and friends,” he explained. “It has definitely been marked on my calendar. It will be a cool experience. My whole family will be able to come out and watch me play as we are about 45 minutes from Cornell and 90 minutes from Canisius.”
In the U18s’ first five college games, Powell says they have learned valuable lessons that they can apply as they head into this next stretch of contests.
“Just how hard the games are,” he said. “If you make a mistake, the puck is going to end up in the back of your net. We have stuck close in most of them. We are looking forward to playing some more games and getting used to that college atmosphere.
“We have to have a hard compete level. I think that is a strength of our team, just how hard we battle day in and day out, whether it is in practice or in games. If we do that for each other, and not just for ourselves, that will give us a strong chance to win some games.”
Photo: Rena Laverty
Powell has committed to play hockey at Boston College after his playing days with Team USA are over. It was an easy decision for him.
“The atmosphere — the college, the coaches and the campus, everything just clicked at the right moment,” he said. “It is somewhere that I dreamed of going so I think when I finally got offered there it was a no brainer for me.”
He knows just how much playing college competition this year will help him ease into his transition next year.
“It will give me more comfortability,” he said. “The college games are different — it is faster and stronger. Playing these games now, it really helps you know what to expect next year heading into Boston College.
The good news is that Powell isn’t planning to slow down now. He knows what he needs to do each and every day to improve his game.
“I need to keep getting stronger and better each day,” he said. “You have to have that mindset each and every day that you are going to get better. I think that it will add up over time and hopefully, it will allow me to play in the final tournament in April.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.