Saturday, April 15, 2017

16-Year-Old Connor Sweeney Commits to UNH

UNH Commit Connor Sweeney
"Sweeney is a tall, athletic prospect with a long, fluid stride." Neutral Zone
Top college hockey prospects develop at different rates. Some "can't miss" prospects, such as recent UNH commit Max Gildon, are singled out by hockey scouts at an early age. When Gildon was just 14 years old and playing for the Dallas Stars Elite U16 team, the scouts at Western Elite Hockey Prospects rated him as "by far the best defenseman in the 1999 class".

Other youngsters who eventually become excellent college players don't register on the scouts' radar until their mid-to-late teens. 6'2", 185 lbs. forward Connor Sweeney (DOB: 5/5/2000) looks like just such a player. Sweeney, who hails from North Andover, Massachusetts, earned a slot at last summer's USA Hockey Select 16 Player Development Camp. The scouts from Neutral Zone** ranked Sweeney as a "C+" forward and provided this assessment:

"Sweeney led his high school team, Pingree, in points as a ’00 this past season. He is a fluid skater who can carry the puck well and make plays off the rush. The son of former NHLer Bob Sweeney, who currently heads the Boston Bruins Foundation, has great upside, size and skating ability, but will need to grow into his frame and get more involved offensively. He was too perimeter here and wasn’t able to create many scoring chances in zone. An athletic, fluid skater with size and major upside. He was drafted by Muskegon in the seventh round of the USHL Futures Draft and is undecided about his plans next season"
Rating - 3 1/2 out 5 Stars.

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

In the 2015-16 season, Sweeney was a freshman at the Pingree School in Hamilton, Massachusetts and tallied 9 goals and 11 assists in 29 games. This season, as a sophomore, Sweeney had a breakout performance scoring 31 goals and 12 assists. He tied for the most goals scored in New England Prep School Hockey.

Connor is the youngest son of former Boston Bruin Bob Sweeney. He was an All-American at Boston College in the early 1980's, played six seasons with the Boston Bruins, and four additional seasons in the NHL. Mr. Sweeney is the Executive Director of the Boston Bruins Foundation, the non-profit charitable organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for children throughout New England.


I had an opportunity to interview Connor Sweeney, 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?

Connor Sweeney: The coaches at UNH, the strong hockey program and the campus.

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?

Connor Sweeney: The coaches and I have not reached a target date yet.

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

Sweeney: Harvard, St. Lawrence, Maine, UVM, Northeastern and finally UNH. Maine, UNH and Northeastern all made me offers.

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

Sweeney: My strengths are my speed, down low play and shot right now. What I need to improve on is my puck handling all over the ice.

Lowry: In your recently completed sophomore season at the Pingree School, you dramatically increased your goal scoring from 9 as a freshman to 31. You tied with Hebron Academy senior Phillipe Gilmour for the most goals in New England Prep School hockey. What factors lead to your burst of goal-scoring?

Sweeney: I started the season off not scoring a goal and I got really down on myself. My dad just kept telling to keep playing my game and as soon as our Christmas tournament started, I took off. I really started to believe in myself and I think that believing in myself was a huge factor.

Lowry: Last May, the Muskegon Lumberjacks drafted you in the 7th round of the USHL Phase I Futures Draft and you are on their Affiliate List. Do you plan on trying out for the Muskegon roster at their camp in May?

Sweeney: I have not officially decided if I am going out to Muskegon or not in May.

Lowry: If you don't join the squad of a Junior team, where do you plan to play next season?

Sweeney: Lawrence Academy.

Lowry: Last summer, you participated in the USA Hockey Select 16 Player Development Camp. How do you think your skills and development compared with the other top US forwards born in 2000?

Sweeney: I think I was right in the middle. Over this past season, I believe I have become a different player and I hope to make it back to Development camp this summer.

Lowry: Your Dad is a former Boston College hockey star, NCAA All-American, and veteran NHL player. What's the best piece of hockey advice he's given you?

Sweeney: He always stresses that believing in my ability is one of the most important parts in hockey and in everything I do. He has always believed in me which has made me believe in myself. Believing in yourself is half the battle.

Lowry: What are your academic strengths and interests? When do you anticipate graduating from high school?

Sweeney: I love History and any Science. I have thought about majoring in business at UNH.

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