West Point, NY, will soon be the new home of Buffalo Jr. Sabres goaltender Parker Gahagen. Gahagen has announced that he will be playing D-I at Army beginning with the 2013-14 academic year.
“The main attraction was the prestige of it - the educational opportunities, the leadership training, and obviously the hockey as well,” said Gahagen. “Army prepares you for life with hockey and without hockey better than any other school.”
The former Williamsville North standout will be going to West Point for Kinesiology, the scientific study of human movement.
Jr. Sabres head coach and general manager Michael Peca’s main goal is to get players interest from college programs. He knows what a great player his goaltender is, but says that’s not what makes Gahagen special.
“Parker and his family are incredible people and I think the character and integrity he has is ultimately what West Point fell in love with,” said Peca. “He’s an exceptional goaltender and a lot of schools noticed that, but it’s his character that sets him apart from a lot of people.”
Gahagen didn’t even have Army on his radar until Thanksgiving. He got a call from Army saying they were going to a few Jr. Sabres games to watch him play. From there, Gahagen and Army stayed in touch and a few weeks later he was at West Point for a visit. The two sides continued to stay in touch while Gahagen weighed his options until he made his decision this past week.
“There was a lot to weigh because of the commitment level of it, ultimately I felt like it was the right decision to make because of the opportunities that can come from it and it just seemed like the right fit for me compared to other schools.”
As of January 21, Gahagen leads the OJHL in shutouts (7), is second in the league in wins (23), and was honored by the OJHL for his stellar play in the month of November with Player of the Month.
Gahagen’s teammate and captain of the Jr. Sabres, Derek Patterson, has also made a decision on where he will go to school and play hockey next year, committing to D-III powerhouse SUNY Plattsburgh. According to Peca these two are just the start of many commitments that will be made by the Jr. Sabres.
“We’ve got a lot. Right now it’s just a matter of teams getting out and having one last look, players making decisions and just finalizing some of the academic parts of what go into playing hockey in the NCAA,” said Peca. “That number of commitments will just continue to grow.”
The Jr. Sabres have dropped from seventh to 10th in the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) weekly rankings with a record of 30-11-4. They have also fallen out of first place in the OJHL’s West Division. Their 64 points put them just one point behind the Georgetown Raiders, who are tied with the league’s leader, Trenton. The Raiders beat the Jr. Sabres on January 5 by a score of 4-2 in Georgetown. The next matchup between the two teams will be on February 4 at the Northtown Center.
(The CJHL’s weekly rankings are based upon a variety of factors, including: the league in which the teams play, winning percentage, win-loss record, total points accumulated, goals-for versus goals-against ratio, etc.)
The Jr. Sabres have three games left in the month of January and just 10 games left in the season – starting tonight with a 7:30 p.m. faceoff against at the Northtown Center against Milton Icehawks. Then it’s off to Orangeville on Saturday to play the Flyers (7 p.m.). On Monday, January 28, the Jr. Sabres return home to face-off against the Toronto-Lakeshore Patriots at 7:30 p.m.
For more information on the Jr. Sabres, including ticket and schedule details, check out their web site at buffalojuniorsabres.com