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Prospect Profile: Reece Willcox

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
It’s perhaps the biggest decision of a young player’s life which route to travel on your way to a career in hockey. Join the collegiate ranks in the NCAA or play in the Canadian Hockey League at the major junior level?


Sure there are other routes, the United States Hockey League is rapidly becoming a breeding ground for players before they enter college and players born in Europe have excellent development leaagues before coming to North America, but the NCAA and CHL offer two very different and the most common paths to playing hockey professionally.

The decision is made on a case-by-case basis on what is best for the player and in the case of a big-towering defenseman from the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Reece Willcox chose the Ivy League.

Fast-forward four years later and Willcox, the Flyers fifth round pick at 141st overall in 2012, has developed at a steady pace, and his level of play and experience has helped the Big Red to an 11-5-3 record, including 7-3-0 in the ECAC and nationally ranked at No. 14.

“I think going to college was the best decision for me. It gives me a little more time to develop. I think playing against older, stronger, faster guys has prepared me for my future,” said Willcox during the Flyers’ development camp last June.

Another tall defensemen, who knows the pro game extensively with 14 years in the National Hockey League and has his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, is Flyers Player Development Coach Kjell Samuelsson.

“The path he took was perfect for him because when he was drafted he was skinny and tall and was still growing,” said Samuelsson. “He’s really taken advantage of the way the college season is - a lot of practicing and off-ice workouts, and he’s gotten a lot stronger. Because of that he’s become a good hockey player.”

From a numbers perspective he has improved, recording a pair of power-play goals and nine points to lead Cornell’s blueline, but it’s the experience of being with the team for four years that has helped develop his game more than anything.

Willcox is one of four captains on the team, and at 6’4’’ and 204 pounds, he is a main-stay on the team’s penalty-killing unit.

“He’s a tall player, who could be stronger,” added Samuelsson. “That’s what he is working on because he’s a late bloomer. When he gets stronger, he’s going to be an even better defender, because his priority in his game is defending well and then moving the puck up to the forwards. When you enter professional hockey, there’s a lot of emphasis on defense and the way that he plays.”

For now, joining the professional ranks will have to wait until the summer or fall months. The 21-year old blue-liner, who turns 22 in March, will remain focused on his studies, as well as the ECAC tournament, slated to begin on March 18 in Lake Placid, NY.

For more on Flyers prospects playing in the NCAA, junior and European hockey leagues see below…

CANADIAN HOCKEY LEAGUE

PLAYER POS. HT. WT. AGE HOMETOWN DRAFT 2015-16 TEAM GP G A P
Nicolas Aube-Kubel RW 5'11" 200 19 Slave Lake. Alberta 2014 Val d'Or (QMJHL) 41 28 32 60
Samuel Dove-McFalls LW 6'2" 197 18 Montreal, Quebec 2015 Saint John (QMJHL) 8 1 2 3
Radel Fazleev C 6'0" 194 19 Kazan, Russia 2014 Calgary Hitmen (WHL) 33 14 32 46
Travis Konecny RW 5'10" 177 18 London, Ontario 2015 Ottawa 67's (OHL) 38 14 46 60
Philippe Myers D 6'5" 196 18 Dieppe, New Brunswick Undrafted Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL) 45 12 19 31
Ivan Provorov D 6'0" 201 18 Yaroslavl, Russia 2015 Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) 37 9 30 39
Travis Sanheim D 6'3" 198 19 Elkhorn, Manitoba 2014 Calgary Hitmen (WHL) 28 8 28 36

NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION

PLAYER POS. HT. WT. AGE HOMETOWN DRAFT 2015-16 TEAM GP G A P
Terrance Amorosa D 6'1" 185 20 Kirkland, Quebec 2013 Clarkson University 13 1 7 8
David Drake D 6'3" 185 20 Naperville, Illinois 2013 University of Connecticut 24 0 5 5
Mark Friedman D 5'11" 185 19 Toronto, Ontario 2014 Bowling Green State University 27 4 12 16
Cooper Marody RW 6'0" 177 18 Brighton, Michigan 2015 Michigan University 21 8 6 14
Reece Willcox D 6'4" 204 21 Surrey, British Columbia 2012 Cornell University 19 2 7 9

EUROPE

PLAYER POS. HT. WT. AGE HOMETOWN DRAFT 2015-16 TEAM GP G A P
David Kase C 5'11" 164 18 Kadan, Czech Republic 2015 Liga (WSM) 16 6 8 14
Oskar Lindblom F 6'1" 192 19 Gavle, Sweden 2014 Brynas (SweHL) 33 5 14 19
Mikhail Vorobyov C 6'2" 194 18 Ufa, Russia 2015 Toplar (MHL) 19 6 16 22

GOALTENDERS

GOALTENDER HT. WT. AGE HOMETOWN 2015-16 TEAM
GP W L OT SO GAA SV%
Ivan Fedotov 6'6" 192 18 St. Petersburg, Russia Reaktor (MHL) 22 14 4 2 0 2.17 .914
Merrick Madsen 6'4" 177 20 Preston, Indiana Harvard University 14 10 1 2 4 1.91 .933
Felix Sandstrom 6'2" 196 18 Gavle, Sweden Brynas (SweHL) 12 6 5 1 0 2.82 .903
Matej Tomek
*Injured
6'3" 180 18 Bratislava, Slovakia North Dakota University - - - - - - -
*All stats are through games on Jan. 27
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