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Eetu Selanne Relishes Opportunity to Play D1 Hockey

by Chris Bayee / From California Rubber Magazine

Eetu Selanne didn't ride in the express lane to go from Orange County to NCAA Division I Northeastern University in Boston.

The longtime Jr. Ducks player's late fall commitment to the Huskies came as a result of years of hard work, and it was sparked by two events during his high school years playing in Southern California.

Selanne, currently a member of the Madison Capitols of the United States Hockey League, grew up playing hockey with the Jr. Ducks, and he was part of a USA Hockey National championship team in 2012 as a freshman at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, the second team in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League.

"The Ducks organization was great in every aspect," he said. "And I'll never forget winning the national title in Florida.

"(Jr. Ducks Director of Coaches and Santa Margarita Coach) Craig Johnson is such a great coach, he's helped me in so many ways. Santa Margarita hockey and the whole league has grown a lot, and it's incredible to see that growth in high school hockey."

A second event that helped inspire Selanne's ascent was attending a college camp in Southern California.

"An assistant from Northeastern came to one of the camps and talked to me," the late 1997 birth year said. "I didn't have a lot of contact with them again until our USHL showcase in Pittsburgh (in September). They asked me to visit.

"Everything I wanted in a school was there."

Of course Selanne only had to look across the dinner table to find further inspiration. Besides brothers Eemil and Leevi, both of whom play hockey, his father, Teemu, spent a few years in the game. Teemu scored nearly 700 goals in the NHL, won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 and is a lock for induction in the Hockey Hall of Fame next year.

Johnson said Teemu's influence helped make the 5-foot-10, 189-pound Eetu the well-rounded player he is today.

"He saw how hard his dad (Teemu) prepared for games and seasons late in his career," Johnson said. "That motivated Eetu to work on his own game. I noticed a big change when he took hockey more seriously. He is able to play both sides of the puck and has a solid 200-foot game.

"The kids who commit to play college hockey are the ones who are committed to working on their games, and Eetu doesn't get enough credit for how hard he worked."

The other attribute Eetu brings to the game is an incredible attitude, Johnson added.

"He is not a selfish kid at all," the coach said. "He is all about his teammates."

Selanne is one of six players with ties to the Jr. Ducks who have made NCAA Division I college commitments this season.

Longtime Jr. Ducks 2001s Cameron York (Boston College) and Nicholas Kent (Quinnipiac) committed in early fall. Selanne and Rourke Russell (Miami) - who played a couple of seasons of Bantam AAA with the Jr. Ducks - committed later in the fall, and Patrick Choi (Bentley) and Slava Demin (Denver) committed this week.

That also brings the number of D-I commitments for the program to 10 in the past two years. Justin Dixson (UMass-Amherst), Jack Gates (Colorado College) and Chad Sasaki (Colorado College) committed during the 2014-15 season and Rory Herrman (Arizona State) committed last season. In addition, one of Herrman's teammates, goaltender Carl Stankowski, is playing for Seattle of the Western Hockey League.

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