(Photo: Rena Laverty/ USA Hockey)
BY JACK LeGWIN
A key cog in Team USA U18 NTDP (National Team Development Program’s) success this year, Jack DeBoer says he thinks he knows why things have been running so smoothly recently for a team that has won six of their last seven games.
“I think it’s just the commitment to our systems,” DeBoer said. “We are buying into what Coach Appert says. He really stresses team defense. If we play well in our D zone, we will be able to create plays from there. Our goalies have been awesome the past few games, and we are really starting to trust each other. It’s all starting to fall into place which is really nice.”
DeBoer said that the decision to join the Team USA NTDP (National Team Developmental Program) was not a difficult one.
“It wasn’t a hard decision for me,” DeBoer said. “When I was offered it right out of the Top 40 Camp, I immediately accepted. There’s no place like this. As a young guy at 15 years old or so, you are just getting started on your hockey career. It’s a great place to develop, get stronger in the weight room. They have world class facilities here, I just felt like there wasn’t another place that I could play this many games and improve. For my style and where I want to be down the road, and it’s working out very well.”
Deboer headed to Plymouth to play in the Stars and Stripes after playing high school hockey at Salisbury School. He said that despite the opportunity to play for Team USA, playing at Salisbury was an experience he won’t soon forget.
“Salisbury was awesome. I still say it was one of the best years of hockey in my life. The friendships you make there are second to none. Coach Will did an awesome job with me, getting me prepared. I can’t thank Salisbury and the hockey program enough. I had a great year there, and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
The son of current San Jose Sharks head coach, Peter DeBoer, Jack said that learning to play hockey around his father was something that helped him substantially as he grew up.
“You can be walking down the street in San Jose and people will be asking for his autograph. As a kid, it’s pretty cool to see that stuff. I’ve always looked up to him, ever since I got into the game at a young age, he’s been a great mentor to me and my biggest fan. My mom too. She’s done a lot of work over the past couple years, with my dad out in California. She’s been driving back and forth all over the place. We’re a pretty tight knit family, so it’s been great.”
Despite his father having a big role in the hockey community, DeBoer said he didn’t feel any pressure from his family to play the game of hockey when he was a youngster.
“My mom and dad always told me that I could hang up the skates and they wouldn’t look down on me” DeBoer said. “They told me I could do whatever I wanted, as long as I did it the right way and worked hard. There’s no pressure at all from them to live up to anything. It’s an awesome feeling when your family cares about you that much.”
Much like his opting to play in the NTDP program, DeBoer said choosing to play for B.U. was not a hard one.
“It was really an easy decision actually,” DeBoer said. “I was going into my sophomore year of high school, getting a few offers here and there. I always liked B.U.. I went there for a game back when I was a Mite, and we got to go into the locker room. I remember thinking to myself ‘this place is awesome’. When they offered me, I accepted it right away. It’s been a dream of mine to play there. It’s a great school, great campus with the city feel, great facilities and coaching staff. It is a perfect fit for me.”
When he was asked what a leading reason was for his decision to become a Terrier, DeBoer cited head coach David Quinn as a big part of his commitment.
“Coach Quinn is a big factor for all the guys that are trying to go there,” DeBoer said. “He’s been a coach in the NHL, and every time you meet with him and talk with him, things just fall into place. You like it more and more every time you speak with him. Guys that have been there the past couple years are Kieffer Bellows, Brady Tkachuk, Clayton Keller, Jack Eichel. It’s a testament to the program they have there, and I think they’re going to keep it up.”
As for the rivalry amongst his teammates, Deboer says it’s all in good jest.
“There’s some talk sometimes,” DeBoer said with a laugh. “We have the guys who are going to BC, BU and Ollie (Wahlstrom) who’s going to Harvard. There’s some light chirps in there about that. We are looking forward to playing each other in college. It’s definitely going to be interesting lining up for a face-off against the guys next year.”
DeBoer currently has totaled 7 goals and 11 assists in 36 games for the U18 Program.