“Fearsome Young Sharks” Prospect Profile – The Daniels Twins

Photo courtesy of Alex Zimmermann {@Alex_Z_Sharkie}

Photo courtesy of Alex Zimmermann {@Alex_Z_Sharkie}

On the second day of the 2008 National Hockey League {NHL} Entry Draft, the San Jose Sharks, who did not pick in the first two rounds, traded their fourth round {117th overall} and fifth round {147th overall} picks along with a third round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft to the Tampa Bay Lightning for their third round pick {62nd overall}.

With the 62nd pick, the Sharks selected forward Justin Daniels from Kent High School in Connecticut.  With the 194th overall pick in the seventh round of the draft, the Sharks selected Drew Daniels, Justin’s twin brother.

“Growing up, you just dream of being drafted, to get a chance to play at that type of level,” said Drew in an interview with Jeff Gold for a 2008 Journal News article.  “But I never thought we would get drafted by the same team.”

Added Justin, “It’s surreal.  It’s pretty storybook how it worked out.  We gave each other a huge hug, and we’re proud of each other.”

Born in Suffern, N.Y., the twins began playing organized hockey at the age of eight after their mother had them take skating lessons with a figure skating instructor at a public rink. 

“We started there, with the helicopters and getting that done, and some guy was like, ‘We’ve got tryouts, take them over there,'” said Justin in a March 2009 interview with Kevin Wey for mckeenshockey.rivals.com.  “We were awful.  Only 30 kids showed up.  They made two teams, and they had just enough guys for two teams.  So, we started there and it’s been a battle ever since.”

With the support of their parents, the twins played in various youth hockey organizations such as Suffolk PAL, Snapple Express, the Ramapo Saints, the New Jersey Devils and the New Jersey Kings.  Eventually, the twins made their way to Section 1’s perennial power Suffern, where they attended from eighth grade through their junior year of high school.

Starring at Suffern, the twins led Suffern to the sectional championship in 2006 and were named The Journal News’ Co-Hockey Players of the Year for Rockland County.  Justin led the section in scoring with 91 points and Drew was second with 90.

Entering their junior year at Suffern, the twins played for the Brewster Bulldogs in the CHA Premier League, a Junior C league that was the only junior league around and the only place where the twins could commute, go to school, practice and commute to the team.

“The coach there, John Touhy, was a great coach,” said Justin in the Wey interview.  “There were guys in the league that were 21, and I was 14 or 15-years old.  That experience there was just bigger and stronger guys.  I think even to now, it’s helped me because that’s what really taught me to move from high school hockey to a much better level.”

Wanting a good education and to possibly play college hockey, the twins decided to leave Suffern and attend Kent, whose hockey program plays in the New England Prep School Founders League, for their final two years of high school.  The move was fully supported by Suffern men’s hockey coach Rob Schelling.

“As tough was it was to lose two incredible players, it was the right decision for them to leave,” said coach Schelling in the Gold article.  “They were dominant and needed to play at another level.”

Even though Kent was not know for a winning hockey tradition, the twins chose Kent over Shattuck’s and Northwood because they liked Kent’s campus, rink and believed the program was headed in the right direction once coach Matt Herr stepped in.

Under the tutelage of coach Herr, who constantly preached power skating and to “shoot the puck,” the twins continued to blossom at Kent.  In their senior season, 2007-08, the twins helped lead Kent to its first ever Christmas Classic title at the Avon Classic, a tournament that Kent had never even made it to the third-place game. 

Beating everyone on their schedule except Taft, Kent finished as the fifth seed in the West and missed the New England playoffs by one game.  Despite falling short on their goal to lead Kent to its first playoff appearance in school history, the twins still had solid seasons as Justin registered 54 points on 17 goals and 37 assists in 25 games played while Drew registered 47 points on 12 goals and 35 assists.

In addition, the twins began talking to different schools in the Hockey East and the Eastern College Athletic Conference, such as Northeastern and Dartmouth, about possibly playing there once graduating from Kent.  In the end, the twins selected Northeastern and gave commitments to attend starting in the 2009-10 season.

“It’s a great place you’d want to be at, it’s in Boston,” said Justin in the Wey interview.  “My dad also wanted me to be semi-close, where he could catch a game here or there.  So, that and the coaching staff and the set-up and everything, it kind of fit perfect.”

“The decision to commit to Northeastern was an easy one,” added Drew in a March 2008 interview with Vincent Montalbano for mckeenshockey.rivals.com.  “Northeastern is a great school with a great hockey program and a coaching staff that can’t be beat and what makes it even better is that I will continue to play with my brother.”

Two weeks after being drafted by the Sharks, the twins participated in their first Sharks Rookie Development Camp {the twins have attended every Sharks Development Camp since 2008}.  A typical day at Sharks Camp saw the twins, along with other Sharks prospects, up at 6:00 a.m. to head over to the rink for breakfast, followed by a morning lift, meetings and being on the ice for workouts twice a day.

“Everyday was something new, whether it be passing or receiving passes, things to do with your shooting,” said Justin in the Wey interview.  “It’s just those little tips that you’ve never noticed out there that you get to experience at camp and you learn so much.  Then you tweak it into your game and you’ve never even realized that you’re doing it.”

“The coaching staff out there knows so much and they’re so interested in teaching,” added Drew in an interview with Jared Shafran for an Aug. 2010 huntnewsnu.com article.  “You see it at a professional level how these guys carry themselves throughout the day and how hard you have to work to ultimately get to that level.”

For the 2008-09 season, the twins decided to play for the Sioux City Musketeers in the United States Hockey League {USHL} to help prepare them for the rigors of the collegiate game.  In their lone season in Sioux City, Drew registered 28 points on nine goals and 19 assists to go along with 24 penalty minutes in 53 games played while Justin, who earned himself a selection to the USHL Prospect/All-Star Game, registered 37 points on nine goals and 28 assists to go along with 17 penalty minutes in 56 games played.

“There’s more body contact, a little more speed, guys are bigger and stronger,” said Justin of the USHL in the Wey interview.  “It’s not as easy as it once was to get the puck and control it.  You’ve got to fight for little spots and you’ve got to dig out of the corners and get your feet going a lot more.  It’s been a learning experience, but the pressures haven’t been too bad, slowly getting there.”

After their one year in the USHL, the twins headed to Northeastern to begin their collegiate careers.  In their freshman season, 2009-10, Drew registered eight points on four goals and four assists to go along with four penalty minutes in 32 games played while Justin registered 15 points on eight goals and seven assists to go along with 10 penalty minutes. 

This past season, injuries crippled the Huskies blue line and as a result, Drew had to make the difficult transition from his natural forward position to defense for the final 22 games of the season.  In 38 games played, Drew registered nine points on three goals and six assists to go along with 18 penalty minutes and finished with a plus/minus rating of plus-three.

Justin suffered an ankle injury in the first game of the season at Providence College and wanting to play through the injury, Justin returned to the line-up too soon and re-injured the ankle.  Limited to only 28 games, Justin registered six points on six assists to go along with eight penalty minutes.

At the annual team banquet on April 14, Drew was presented the Northeastern University Hockey Veterans’ Unsung Hero award for his two-way offering while Justin was bestowed with the Chicken “Lou-ser” award for overall character.

While the twins do have high hopes of playing together in the NHL someday, they are enjoying their time at Northeastern and are in no hurry to leave campus nor each other.

“We read each other better than anyone else,” said Justin in the Montalbano interview.  “I know what he wants to do with the puck and he knows what I want to do with the puck.  I mean for the most part we have played on the same line since mites.  We are both able to push each other to work hard because we have such a competitive nature and sometimes it can turn into a heated argument but it’s all for the best.”

HIGHLIGHTS

Justin Daniels wants some of Eric Alexander  {Courtesy of YouTube user “crzyhuntr”}
In this USHL clip posted on March 28, 2009, Justin challenges Eric Alexander to a scrap after seeing Alexander taking liberties with some of his teammates.

Drew Daniels scores first goals of 2010-11 season  {Courtesy of YouTube user “Northeastern”}
In this clip, Drew scores his first goal of the 2010-11 season in a Feb. 4 game against Merrimack that saw the Huskies lose a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime decision.  Drew’s goal starts at the 1:00 mark of the clip.

Drew Daniels scores second goal of the 2010-11 season  {Courtesy of YouTube user “UNHathletics”}
In this clip, Drew scores his second goal of the 2010-11 season in a Feb. 25 game against New Hampshire that saw the Huskies skate to a 2-2 tie.  Drew’s goal starts at the 0:25 second mark of the clip.

*Videos and information were used from sharks.nhl.com, mckeenshockey.rivals.com, www.hockeysfuture.com, www.nyshshca.org, www.hockeydb.com, nanuet.patch.com, www.gonu.com, huntnewsnu.com and www.youtube.com for this post entry.*

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About Jon Allred

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

Posted on August 2, 2011, in Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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