“Fearsome Young Sharks” Prospect Profile – Colin Blackwell

Photo courtesy of Alexander Zimmermann {@Alex_Z_Sharkie}

On the second day of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the San Jose Sharks traded their fourth round pick {119th overall} to the Winnipeg Jets for their fourth round {133rd overall} and seventh round {194th overall} picks.  With the 194th pick, the Sharks selected forward Colin Blackwell of St. John’s Prep.

“Throughout my life, it has been peaks and valleys, and it is really rewarding to see your name being called,” said Blackwell in an interview with Matt Williams for a June 27 salemnews.com article.  “Six months ago, I wasn’t even thinking about the draft, so you can see how fast you can progress.  I wouldn’t be here without my parents and my brother.”

After spending two years learning the game through the North Andover Youth Hockey program, Blackwell joined the Valley Junior Warriors program in 2002 as part of the King’s Squirt Minor Elite team.  The dedication by both Blackwell and the Warriors coaching staff {which included his dad Jim Blackwell as an assistant} resulted in a eye-popping hockey resume.

Skating alongside teammates Chris Eiserman, Mike Vecchione and Alex Gacek, the Warriors captured four straight Massachusetts Hockey Select League Championships from 2003-2006 and posted more than 100 straight wins in league play.  However, no victory was bigger than the one earned at the 2005 Bell Capital Cup International Tournament in Ottawa where the Warriors, captained by Blackwell, emerged as grand champions.

“It’s hard to find a kid who not only has the skill and the smarts but also the heart to take his game to the next level,” said Valley Junior Warriors director of player development Fred Devereaux, who coached Blackwell for years as part of the program’s weekly skills development program, in an interview for a 2010 article on jrwarriors.com.  “His attitude is what makes him a complete package and what sets him apart from the rest.”

Attending St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass., for high school, Blackwell rose to the challenge as he became the first freshman player in 13 years to make the Varsity squad.  Elected team captain his junior and senior seasons, Blackwell led by example through his strict, methodical routine of practice where dedication is a 24/7 operation. 

“It’s a 20-game season,” said Blackwell in an interview with Jeff Powalisz for a Jan. 13 Boston Globe article.  “There isn’t enough time in the year to take a night off.”

This past season, Blackwell had a senior year for the ages as he registered 66 points on 33 goals and 33 assists in 25 games played.  In the Super Eight Tournament, Blackwell registered 11 points in leading St. John’s Prep to their first finals appearance in program history {St. John’s Prep lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to Malden Catholic}.

“Colin is one of those players you build your team around,” said St. John’s Prep head coach Kristian Hanson in an interview with Phil Stacey for an Oct. 2010 salemnews.com article.  “I remember seeing him the first time as a 14-year old; you could tell even then he was a special player because he had skills beyond his age.  He’s certainly the most talented player I’ve ever coached.  Colin’s offense isn’t just about scoring goals but he also generates goals through puck possession and with his tremendous speed.  He’s so shifty and quick and it’s really difficult to take the puck away from him.  He has a great knack for finding the open guy when he has the puck and he’s so, so talented coming out of the corners with the puck and making something big happen.”

For this efforts in the 2010-11 season, Blackwell was named the Catholic Conference’s Most Valuable Player, Massachusetts Coaches Association Robbie Ftorek Player of the Year and was the recipient of the ESPN Boston‘s inaugural Mr. Hockey Award, which was chosen by a panel of experts made up of ESPNBoston.com staff, correspondents and high school hockey coaches.

“It’s unquestioned that Colin Blackwell contributed more to his team’s success than any other single player in the state this season,” said Scott Barboza, co-editor of ESPN Boston High Schools in a 2011 ESPNBoston.com article.  “When considering the talent he displayed while taking on the state’s finest competiion in the Super Eight Tournament, in addition to his unquestioned leadership qualities, he is a marvelous role model to what the ideal high school hockey player embodies.”

Even opposing coaches had high praise for Blackwell after playing against him.  “That Blackwell kid, I don’t know how you stop him,” said Weymouth coach Matt Cataldo in an interview with Jake Seiner for a June 30 Boston Globe article.  “Put him in a cage?  He’s just so fast and talented.”

Added Malden Catholic coach Chris Serino in Powalisz’s article, “He’s dangerous even without the puck.  He has speed and he’ll break into open areas.  What I like about him is his tenaciousness; he never stops.  He’s a finesse player, and while finesse players are always a threat to score, he does a lot more than just score.  He’s got a motor that doesn’t stop.”

In addition to an outstanding senior year at St. John’s Prep, Blackwell, who graduated fourth all-time on the Prep’s scoring list with 132 career points, fulfilled a childhood dream when he officially committed to play Division 1 hockey at Harvard.

“It’s always been my No. 1 choice,” said Blackwell in the Stacey article.  “Obviously from an academic standpoint it can’t be beat.  And to play hockey there, to be able to compete in the Beanpot and all…it’s the perfect fit for me.”

Drawing the interest of many Hockey East and Ivy League schools such as Maine, New Hampshire, Merrimack, Brown University and Boston College {head coach Jerry York phoned Blackwell personally}, Blackwell was sold once Harvard head coach Ted Donato called him and said the school was ready to make a commitment to him.

“Getting that phone call was one of the best nights of my life,” said Blackwell in the Stacey article.  “I had visited some schools and narrowed down my choices, but Harvard was always right at the top.  Calling Coach York was one of the toughest phone calls I’ve ever had to make.  It would have been unbelievable to play for him and for a school that’s won two of the last three {NCAA} titles and also plays in the Beanpot.  But any time I’ve ever been at Harvard, I’ve felt most comfortable there.  It’s the best fit for me.”

It was originally thought that Blackwell would play a year of junior hockey, most likely in the United States Hockey League {USHL}, to prepare him for the rigors of Division 1 college hockey.  Blackwell had other plans and sent shock-waves throughout the college hockey realm this past spring when he confirmed he would be heading straight to Harvard to play for the Crimson this fall as an 18-year old freshman along with 2011 NHL draftees Stephen Michalek, Petr Placek and Max Everson.

“The coaches there feel I’ve progressed well and should be able to contribute next season,” said Blackwell in an interview for a March 12 salemnews.com article.  “After we talked, we both agreed that going there right away was the way to go.”

The decision was one that Coach Hanson fully supported.  “Colin can go to Harvard and become a Hobey Baker-type player,” said Coach Hanson in the Williams article.  “I believe that and I hope that for him.  He does so many things well or great.  He handles the puck, has great vision, he’s shifty, anticipates the game well, and he’s the hardest worker on the ice.”

The day the Sharks drafted Blackwell was suppose to be a big night for him and his girlfriend, Devon Wright, as Blackwell had bought tickets for the couple to see Taylor Swift at Gillette Stadium for her birthday.  Not wanting to sit in front of a computer or TV screen all day, Blackwell had just finished up his shower when he learned he had been drafted by the Sharks.

“I was just getting out of the shower, and my girlfriend was watching on nhl.com,” said Blackwell in the Seiner article.  “I heard her scream and went running out and she told me.  It was pretty funny.”

Despite not participating in any combines or anything due to Lacrosse season, Blackwell knew that the Sharks, along with the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning were interested in him.

“I actually met with San Jose locally just a week before the draft,” said Blackwell in the Seiner article.  “They just said they’d seen me play here and there since seeing me at the National Development Camp last year.  Said they saw me in the State Championship game.  It was just a sit-down thing to get to know me and understand my character and personality, what I’m about.  I was hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.  I’m obviously honored.  It’s a dream come true.”

Coach Hanson couldn’t have been happier for his former star player.  “It’s a great example of what you can do when you put your mind to something,” said Coach Hanson in the Williams article.  “So many people think that if you don’t play junior hockey or play out west you can’t make it.  Colin is a kid that spent four years in high school – at the same school – and in the hockey world that’s almost unheard of.”

Blackwell being drafted by the Sharks speaks volumes about the changing landscape of the St. John’s Prep hockey program as no player had been drafted directly out of St. John’s since Jeff Blaeser and Jefferey Kampersal in 1988.  In the 1980’s, St. John’s Prep had eight players selected in the NHL Entry draft, highlighted by 18-year NHL veteran Bobby Carpenter in 1981.

“I definitely think I took the nontraditional route,” said Blackwell in the Seiner article.  “I didn’t have to leave for a prep school or for juniors.  I was in good company with the St. John’s Prep hockey team and organization over the last three or four years.  It’s really turning into a hockey school.  It definitely means a lot to hear your name and to wear that uniform that says St. John’s Prep on it.  It’s been the best four years of my life so far, and this is awesome for them, the coaching staff,for everything they’ve done for me.  It’s been awesome.”

Honored to be drafted by an organization like San Jose, Blackwell knows that his hockey journey is only beginning.

“It’s awesome hearing your name called, but it doesn’t mean anything,” said Blackwell in the Williams article.  “You still have to work hard and never be satisfied.”

HIGHLIGHTS

St. John’s Prep vs. Boston College High  {Courtesy of YouTube user “studio12sports}
In this video clip, Colin Blackwell, number 11, scores two goals in a Jan. 8, 2011 game against Boston College High, including a jaw dropping highlight reel goal starting at the 2:43 mark.

Super Eight Tournament:  St. John’s Prep vs. BC High  {Courtesy of YouTube user “seriovideo”}
Blackwell registers three points on one goal and two assists in leading St. John’s Prep to a 6-1 victory over Boston College High in the Super Eight Tournament.  Blackwell’s goal occurs within the first 20 seconds of the video clip.

Super Eight Tournament:  St. John’s Prep vs. Woburn  {Courtesy of YouTube user “seriovideo”}
Blackwell registers two points on one goal and an on the game winning goal in overtime to lead St. John’s Prep to a dramatic 4-3 victory over Woburn.  Blackwell’s goal starts at the 1:17 mark of the video clip.

Super Eight Tournament:  St. John’s Prep vs. Needham  {Courtesy of YouTube user “seriovideo”}
Blackwell registers three points on one goal and two assists in leading St. John’s Prep to a 5-1 victory over Needham.  Blackwell’s highlight goal starts at the 1:56 mark of the video clip.

Super Eight Tournament:  St. John’s Prep vs. Needham  {Courtesy of YouTube user “The Needham Channel”}
Same game as above but with commentary.  Blackwell’s highlight goal starts at the 0:52 second mark of the video clip.

Super Eight Tournament:  St. John’s Prep vs. Weymouth  {Courtesy of YouTube user “seriovideo”}
Blackwell registers a five points on a hat trick and two assists in leading St. John’s Prep to a 5-1 victory over Weymouth and into the Super Eight Tournament finals.  Blackwell’s jaw-dropping goals start at 1:43, 2:22 and 3:59 respectively.

Super Eight Tournament:  St. John’s Prep vs. Malden Catholic  {Courtesy of YouTube user “seriovideo”}
Blackwell registers two poins on an assist and a goal that was later credited to him in St. John’s Prep heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Malden Catholic in the Super Eight Tournament Finals.  Blackwell’s goal occurs at the 2:22 mark.  Be sure to watch the end of the video to see Blackwell.

Boston Globe Super Eight Tournament coverage  {Courtesy of YouTube user “callumborchers”}

Boston Globe Super Eight Tournament coverage  {Courtesy of YouTube user “callumborchers”}

*Videos and information were used from sharks.nhl.com, www.salemnews.com, www.jrwarriors.com, articles.boston.com, espnboston.com and www.youtube.com for this post entry.*

Advertisements

About Jon Allred

Life long San Jose and Worcester Sharks fan that bleeds teal and black.

Posted on July 24, 2011, in Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: