By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Even before lifting the USPHL Premier National Championship trophy, defenseman Alex Ferris knew his future held more high level hockey. The ‘02 blueliner out of Enfield, Conn., just completed his second year with the National Champion Cyclones and is hoping to bring future playoff success to the new NCAA program at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Mass.
“I was originally interested in MCLA because of their amazing athletic facility and the amount of care they have for the new hockey program,” said Ferris, a veteran of 78 games with the Cyclones. “I was drawn to the school because of Coach [Jeremiah] Ketts and his vision for MCLA’s hockey team. Academics are important to me so MCLA having small class sizes and a small campus along with being one of the top public colleges in the United States seemed like a perfect fit for me. I will be studying Sport Management at MCLA.”
The college saw Ferris as a key cog in the Cyclones’ machine – skating heavy and important minutes in all situations – especially shorthanded – and even sporting an “A” on his jersey, illustrating his leadership abilities for all to see.
“Coach Ketts liked my skating ability, size and toughness,” said Ferris, who stands 6-feet-2-inches and weighs 181 pounds.
This year, he posted 11 points in 44 regular season games and then added four assists in 11 postseason games, including the Cyclones’ 6-0 run at Nationals.
“Getting to finish the season off on a win is the most rewarding feeling. Once playoffs began we would come to adopt the phrase which Coach Bill Weiand used often: ‘Job’s Not Done,’” said Ferris. “Quickly, everyone bought into that idea. When things were looking down in our second round of playoffs, we realized our backs were against the wall so we started swinging. We had an understanding throughout the group that we will not just lay back and get swept under the rug. The team banded together and in the end and we got the job done.”
Ferris came to the Cyclones out of the prestigious Connecticut Chiefs AAA program, playing his Midget hockey close to his Enfield home. The Cyclones, who somehow manage to scout the entire world seemingly at once, didn’t hesitate to bring on the big, stay-at-home defenseman.
“Going to the Northern Cyclones was the best choice for my career. In my first year, I observed great leaders and amazing people who brought me up as a person and a player. Coach Bill Weiand does an amazing job at choosing guys who are outstanding on and off the ice, that’s the Cyclones way,” he said. “The organization as a whole allows each player to thrive and grow into their role or into a player they want to be. My second year at the Cyclones I was fortunate enough to be named an Assistant Captain. Along with my other Captains, we worked to keep the team atmosphere the exact way the teams before us had left it: inviting, upbeat, but competitive. Testing each guy a bit more every day. At the Cyclones we are a brotherhood; everything we do and did was as a team.”
That team extends far beyond the guys who pull on the jersey and hit the ice when the clock is running. Ferris expands on just how important it is to have a helpful staff to keep the players healthy, ready and at the top of their game.
“The model for development at the Cyclones is really second to none. Our Athletic Trainer and Strength Coach Paul Andrade holds team workouts along with open hours to get treatment or to work out alone,” Ferris said. “Personal work is really crucial especially at our age to try and get an edge over other teams. The vast amount of skills skate opportunities with Coach Fred Hein made my development skyrocket. With his experience as well as professionalism, he brings skill development to a new level which most teams do not have.”
On top of that, the Cyclones get to play in the world’s largest junior amateur organization.
“The USPHL Premier does a great job at showcasing talent and giving players a platform to display their skills, if it’s at a showcase or a regular afternoon match up you know the schools are watching,” Ferris added. “The talent and competitive play within the Premier Division readies players for the NCAA level.”
He is excited to get the same hands-on care for athletes when he gets to MCLA at North Adams.
“When I first visited MCLA we were met by Coach Ketts who showed us the Athletic and Academic facilities. We also met the Athletic Trainer who showed us their state-of-the-art training and weight rooms. I loved the small town feel of the college as well as the Berkshires surrounding it,” said Ferris. “Being only an hour and a half away from home it made my decision easy and comfortable.”
He also knows he has some work to do, both physically and mentally to be ready for the whole new level of the sport presented by the NCAA.
“This off-season I look forward to getting in the gym and staying on the ice, but most importantly I’m looking to grow my mental game and decision-making on the ice,” said Ferris. “I think this off-season before college will be very crucial for development. Making the jump to NCAA hockey will be a tough but fun adventure.”
The USPHL congratulates Alex Ferris, his family, the Northern Cyclones and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts for his commitment.