Forward Connor Leen, who was a second-team All-State pick in New Jersey, has verbally committed to attend the University of Maine on a hockey scholarship.
Leen scored 38 goals and added 29 assists in 21 games for the Don Bosco Prep School Ironmen based in Ramsey, N.J.
He also played for the Jersey Hitmen’s teams in the Empire Junior Hockey League and the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
Leen, who turned 18 on June 3, played in 31 games in the Empire League for the Hitmen’s B team and was the team’s second-leading scorer with 57 points on 16 goals and 41 assists in 31 games. He appeared in five games for the Hitmen’s A team in the EJHL and didn’t have any points.
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Leen, a native of Chester, N.Y., will play for the Hitmen in the EJHL this season and will come to Maine in the fall of 2011 or 2012.
“Connor is a very intense competitor and a slick-skating center with tremendous hands,” said Hitmen general manager and Eastern Junior Hockey League coach Toby Harris. “He is extremely skilled and can go east and west as well as anybody. He can get up and down the ice and can play any forward position.”
He said Leen is “cut from the same cloth” as players like Boston College right wing Cam Atkinson, who had 53 points in 42 games to help lead BC to the national title this past season.
Harris said Leen was highly-sought by a number of schools including Boston College.
“There were 15 other Division I schools interested in him including five or six from Hockey East,” said Harris. “He was a very prized commodity.”
“I wanted to play in Hockey East and Maine was, by far, the best school I visited,” said Leen, who had visited three other schools including one from Hockey East. “I had a chance to meet all three of Maine’s coaches [head coach Tim Whitehead and assistants Dan Kerluke and Bob Corkum] and really liked all of them.”
He said playing for the Hitmen next season will give him “at least three days in the weight room and five days on the ice” and he hopes to get “bigger, stronger and faster” as he prepares for college.
Leen’s coming to Maine is contingent upon his acceptance into the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.
Walsh tourney a big winner
Whitehead said more than $20,000 was raised Monday at the annual Shawn Walsh Memorial Golf Tournament at the Sable Oaks Golf Club in South Portland.
“It was great. We had 34 foursomes. We had a lot of alums,” said Whitehead.
He said the money will be earmarked for a therapeutic multi-person cold tub in the Maine training room area to help players rehabilitate and recover from injuries.
“It will be great for the players,” said Whitehead.
They already have a therapeutic (warm-water) pool with a treadmill to help recover from injuries.
In other news, Whitehead said Tyler Walsh, the 19-year-old son of the late former Maine hockey coach, is transferring to Maine from Michigan State and will be helping out with video for the team beginning this fall.
“He wants to study communications and would like to get involved in coaching,” said Whitehead, who is looking forward to having him in the program.
“It will be nice to have a connection to the Walsh family,” said Whitehead, who replaced Walsh after his death due to complications from kidney cancer on Sept. 24, 2001.
Tyler is the oldest of Walsh’s three sons. Travis and Sean are his younger brothers.
The Bear coach also said some cosmetic improvements at Alfond Arena have already begun and he may have an announcement about future renovations soon.
“We’re looking at renovating the arena through private funding and by applying for state grant money,” said Whitehead.