When Greg Carvel took over the UMass hockey program at the end of March, he said one of his top priorities would be securing top in-state talent.
The former St. Lawrence head coach and Ottawa Senators assistant coach took one step towards keeping his promise Tuesday night.
Former BC High defenseman Jayson Dobay, who is transferring to Thayer Academy, announced his verbal commitment to play college hockey for the Minutemen.
"We are very proud of Jayson on his commitment to UMass Amherst,” said BC High coach John Flaherty. “He was originally recruited by this staff at St Lawrence, but they knew it would be difficult to get him to go up there. When they arrived at UMass they targeted him as a top recruit in Massachusetts to bring to the state's flagship school.”
Dobay, who was the top uncommitted 1999-born prospect in New England, became the first Bay State native to commit to UMass under the new coaching staff that also includes assistant coaches Ben Barr and Jared DeMichiel.
“Being a Massachusetts kid, I wanted to stay in Hockey East, and UMass just seemed like the perfect fit for me,” said Dobay.
Carvel’s NHL background and the strength of the new staff played a huge role in Dobay’s decision to join the Minutemen.
“The new coaching staff was a huge factor in my decision. Coach Carvel has coached at the NHL level and knows what it takes to get there. I can learn a lot from him and I feel UMass is the best place for me to grow as a player,” Dobay explained.
“They have an excellent coaching staff in place to restore the program to a national power and Jayson will no doubt be a big part of that,” Flaherty added.
Carvel had a secret weapon in his back pocket when trying to convince Dobay to head to UMass. Former Minutemen forward and BC High alum Jordan Virtue is one of Flaherty’s assistants.
“One of our assistants at BC High, Jordan Virtue, is an alum of the UMass hockey program under Toot Cahoon. He was very excited when Jay was offered and is more so now that he will be going,” said Flaherty.
“[Virtue] had a great experience in Amherst and shares those stories with all of our guys on a regular basis,” Flaherty continued.
Dobay recently participated in USA Hockey’s Select 17 Player Development Camp that brings together the top 1999-born players in the country who are not playing for the National Team Development Program.
Dobay, who had interest from several Hockey East and ECAC Hockey schools, is eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft.
“Physical, puck-moving, offensive defenseman,” said Dobay, of his style of play. The Weymouth resident is expected to play a year in the USHL with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders before matriculating to UMass for the 2018-19 season.
Thomas Commits to Union
Dobay wasn’t the only Massachusetts native making his college decision recently. Ben Thomas recently announced his verbal commitment to play for Rick Bennett’s Union College Dutchmen.
Thomas was the leading scorer in terms of points per game for Winchendon last winter. The Ashburnham, Mass. native had 13 goals and 16 assists in 21 games for the Wapitis.
“I am very excited for Ben to be going to an elite level school like Union. He has worked very hard to get this opportunity. He has incredible hockey sense and obsessive passion for the game,” said Winchendon coach Jarrett Sampson.
“Over his two years at Winchendon I have watched him grow into an elite player, which is a credit to his constant desire to be a better hockey player. He will be a top level player for Union,” Sampson added.
Thomas will be part of one of the top lines in all of prep hockey next winter, alongside Providence commit Mac Mulera and Quinnipiac recruit Matthew Fawcett.
Ladd Slated to be a Tiger
Avon Old Farms goaltender Matthew Ladd will play his college hockey for Colorado College, it was announced last week. The Getzville, NY resident backstopped the Winged Beavers to the number one seed in prep hockey’s Elite 8.
“Matthew is a big net minder who has great athleticism and high level compete. He also plays the puck as like a pro. He has a very high ceiling,” said retired NHL forward Matthew Barnaby who coached Ladd with the Buffalo Regals youth program.