Gaven LaValley will get a chance to play out his dream of playing college hockey.
In the midst of his third season of junior hockey with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton (Pa.) Knights, LaValley recently committed to Nichols College for the fall. He will have a chance to play Division 3 hockey in the ECAC Northeast, making the last three years after his Newburyport High graduation a worthwhile endeavor in his quest to earn a roster spot with a college team.
“Everyone has a different path,” LaValley said. “I had to play three years of juniors, but that’s nothing against high school hockey. Those were some of the best times of my life winning a state championship at Newburyport (in 2009). Never in my mind did I doubt that my decision to play juniors would pay off. I knew it would come; I just had to be patient.”
LaValley is now the sixth member of Newburyport’s 2010 championship team committed to playing college hockey next year, along with Billy and Chris Eiserman, Billy Boudreau, Derek Freeman and Kevin Holmes.
“It’s a big thing,” LaValley said. “It’s cool to see all of the kids from that team go down the different paths. It’s nice to see everyone succeeding.”
LaValley joined the Knights in 2011 and has played out his entire eligibility with the Eastern Hockey League club. He played a key role for the Knights last season when they won the AJHL’s President’s Cup. LaValley is currently the lone captain on the team, and has tallied four goals and 12 assists in 30 games this season.
“I’m truly grateful for what (Newburyport hockey coach) Paul Yameen and the Newburyport staff did for me,” LaValley said. “They made me who I was going into juniors. That was important. I was an assistant captain at Newburyport, and now I’m captain of a junior hockey team. Those leadership qualities I got from Newburyport transferred over to juniors.”
LaValley plans to live on campus at Nichols, which is in Dudley. While playing hockey in the EJHL, he took a few college classes, which he feels helped him gain acceptance into Nichols.
“My high school transcript became the least important thing because I did really well in those classes,” LaValley said. “This really is huge for me.”
The state-champion Clippers
Six players from the 2009 state-champion Newburyport hockey team are slated to play college hockey next season. Those players include:
Gaven LaValley Nichols College
Derek Freeman Colgate University
Chris Eiserman Fredonia State
Billy Eiserman Bentley University
Kevin Holmes Fitchburg State
Billy Boudreau UMass Dartmouth