By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Michael Marino is getting ready for some culture shock. He’s going from one of the five boroughs of New York City – Staten Island, to be precise, to the small town of Paxton, Mass., with a year-round population of 5,000.
He’ll be one of the roughly 1,400 undergraduate and graduate students who slightly swell Paxton’s population when he arrives on campus later this summer at Anna Maria College, an NCAA Division III institution to which Marino committed in the spring.
“I started talking to them after a showcase in Massachusetts. The coaches really like my speed and compete level in net,” said Marino, who was named an Atlantic East All-Star in 2022 and a Mid-Atlantic All-Star in 2023. He helped the New York Aviators remain as one of the top East Coast programs over the last two years, including finishing with the league’s best winning percentage (.875) in 2022-23, which made them the top seed in the league heading into the USPHL Nationals. Although the Aviators didn’t realize the postseason success they were hoping for in Utica, they still accomplished the mission of sending Marino and many of his teammates to the college hockey level.
“They have a great coaching staff, they were very open throughout the whole recruiting process,” said Marino, of his communications with the “AMCats” staff, helmed by David McCauley. McCauley himself moved on to AMC from coaching jobs in the USPHL Premier (2013-16) and its predecessor the Eastern Junior Hockey League. “It’s a smaller school, so the class sizes are much smaller which makes it easier to connect with my professors. They have a great campus with a great atmosphere. The facilities were a huge part of my commitment at AMC.”
After several years of playing for the New York Stars AA program, Marino first arrived at Aviators Sports and Events Center in 2020, and went 10-4-0-0 in 17 regular season appearances for the Premier Aviators, as well as 4-3 in seven postseason games. He revved up his game further in 2021-22, going 12-5-0-0 in 19 appearances with a .918 save percentage, bettered only by his .925 mark in four playoff games.
Never content with standing in one place, as mentioned above referring to his speed in net, moving to 16-3-1-0 in 2022-23. This included two winning streaks of seven games apiece during the regular season. He also set a personal best in save percentage at .934, and closed his career with six shutouts (two coming in 2022-23).
Marino and his teammates made their second trip to Nationals in three years. His final career postseason record was 11-6-1-0 with a .920 save percentage.
“Aviator gave me everything I could’ve asked for. The relationships I built with the coaches and the players throughout my three years there were incredible,” added Marino. “They developed me so much from my first year to my last. We had lots of ice time available throughout the season which was a huge help. I really got to tune in on my skating everyday.”
He also praised the Aviators, mainly his teammates on the ice, for putting him in a position towards the success of being a two-time All-Star.
“I’m very grateful for my All-Star selections the past two years. My team played a huge role in my success,” said Marino. “I’ve had some really good defensive cores in my three years at Aviator.
“The USPHL is an amazing league. It helped me get tons of exposure to colleges,” Marino added. “The league has helped me get ready for the next level. Every game is a battle.”
He knows that’s the case next time he gets on the ice in competitive action, with NCAA hockey on the horizon.
“I’m working a lot on my off-ice habits. Trying to be in the gym everyday and putting the right foods in me,” said Marino.
The USPHL congratulates Michael Marino, his family, the New York Aviators and Anna Maria College for his commitment.