SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — As comfortable as Liam Darcy is on the ice, he’s just as uncomfortable with the attention he gets off it.
Such is the plight of a hot Division I college prospect. He’d rather play hockey, focus on school and as he puts it, “be a kid.”
That will be a little easier to do now that he’s made a verbal commitment to the University of New Hampshire.
“It’s really a big relief,” Darcy said. “That took a lot of pressure off me.”
The native of South Berwick, Maine, accepted the Wildcats’ scholarship offer on Sept. 17.
“It did take the weight off his shoulders,” said his mom Denise. “Now he can go and just play.”
Liam Darcy’s decision came down to UNH and Maine, although UNH was his top choice all along, partly because it’s close to home and he attended coach Dick Umile’s hockey camp.
Darcy said once he started weighing the pros and cons it didn’t take him long to make up his mind.
“At the beginning it was pretty hard,” he said, “but once I thought about it, it was easy. It’s always been my dream to play there.”
Ivy League schools Harvard, Yale and Cornell also showed interest.
“He plays hockey because he loves the sport,” said Denise Darcy, who had to pad Liam’s bedroom walls because likes to shoot pucks at them. “He’s thrilled about the whole thing, but he doesn’t like the attention.”
Darcy, who turns 16 in February, is a sophomore at Berwick Academy where he was the Bulldogs’ most valuable player last season as a freshman defenseman.
He finished with seven goals and 25 points. Most of those numbers came during the second half of the season after he’d gotten used to the pace of the game at the high-school level and the size and speed of the players.
He also quarterbacked Berwick’s power play.
“He’s a special player,” said Chris Grassie, an assistant coach at BA and director of the Dover-based Seacoast Spartans. “He does very well in all phases of the game. He makes great decisions all the time. Liam has always played both ends of the ice. He’s developed into a complete player.”
Considered a puck-moving defenseman with offensive upside, Darcy has been a member of the Spartans’ organization for seven years.
He gained exposure at a national festival and has international experience, having excelled at several tournaments overseas in recent years.
Darcy’s game started to blossom as an eighth-grader and carried over to his freshman year at BA.
“He’s had a lot of attention the past two years,” said Denise Darcy. “People started showing a lot of interest.”
Liam Darcy plans to stay at Berwick for now, but acknowledges he might need a year of junior hockey before he arrives at UNH which would be in 2015 at the earliest.
“As a young player you could see how smart he was, how unselfish he was and how much of a team player he was,” said Grassie, a former captain at UNH. “His skill set has really developed compared to his peers.”
According to Grassie, the only thing he’s lacking is a physical presence. Right now he stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 160 pounds.
“If he continues to develop the sky’s the limit as to what he can do at the collegiate level,” Grassie said.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Darcy said. “I don’t think it will until I play my first game there.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services