Rising star J.D. Dudek was considering verbal full-scholarship offers from Hockey East schools Maine and New Hampshire when the league-rival Eagles swooped in.
Boston College matched the offer. Dudek didn't hesitate to accept.
“The hockey is, obviously, pretty incredible there,” Dudek said of BC, the defending NCAA Division I national champion and rink king in three of the past five years. “I'd love to pursue my career there.”
The 16-year-old resident of Auburn, N.H., verbally committed to BC on Aug. 23. It was shortly after he returned from a sensational performance at the Five Nations Tournament in Chomutov, Czech Republic.
Dudek – whose father is New Hampshire college football legend Joe Dudek – scored three goals for the United States Under-17 Select Team. The 5-foot 11-inch, 175-pound forward twice scored game-winning goals.
Team USA went 4-0 and won the tourney featuring clubs from the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland.
“The showing I had ... I'm just ecstatic with what the coaches and people think of me now,” said the high school junior, who transferred to Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H., after two year's at Pinkerton Academy.
The talented teen helped lead the Derry, N.H., school to its second NHIAA Division I boys' hockey title as a sophomore. He scored 20 goals and 34 assists, played the point on the power play and served as the team's top penalty-killer.
Pinkerton coach Casey Kesselring, a former hockey standout at Merrimack College (Class of 1998), said the attention his former player received was strictly from skating with the national team.
“USA hockey has a pretty good model to identify players,” Kesselring said. “You try out for Team New Hampshire. They pick the team. Then you go to the New England festival. They pick Team New England. I know he was one of the highest-rated at that camp.
“When you're at a national camp,” Kesselring added, “all the Division I coaches are there.”
Dudek said he plans to complete his junior and senior years at KUA. He will remain in contact with BC coaches, and decide whether to join the Eagles directly out of high school or play junior hockey for a season.
Dudek's father – who became a national name at Division III Plymouth State University – said he never received Division I college interest as a high school athlete. The elder Dudek, of course, graced the Dec. 2, 1985, cover of Sports Illustrated as “The thinking fan's vote for the 1985 Heisman Trophy.”
“It all happened so quickly,” the former PSU star said of his son's recruitment. “A year ago, if you told me J.D. would have schools interested in him playing Division I hockey, I'd say you were crazy. He stepped it up at the USA camp, and it was fast forward from there.”
QUEEN CITY CONTROVERSY
The fact there's only one regular-season all-Manchester matchup per year – the result of the Queen City's four high schools no longer all playing Division I football – generates considerable buzz.
But this year, talk leading up to the Week 5 Central-Memorial clash focused on possible sanctions related to a player's transfer between schools.
A sophomore living in Central's district transferred to Memorial. The boy's father, in an unpublished interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, said the reason was related to playing time – specifically, receiving it.
Transferring for athletic purposes violates Section 4 of By-Law Article II in the “NHIAA Handbook.”
The rule “assists in the prevention of students switching schools in conjunction with the change of athletic season for athletic purposes; (and) impairs recruitment and reduces the opportunity for undue influence to be exerted by persons seeking to benefit from a student-athlete's prowess.”
The schools are under investigation by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA), the state's governing body for interscholastic athletics. Officials from both schools were instructed to submit reports that NHIAA executive director Pat Corbin will review.
Corbin, who said he has received conflicting reports from several sources, is expected to make a decision on possible punishments before Week 6 games on Oct 5 and 6.
Forfeiting wins is a possible penalty, as is a three-year postseason ban for either or both schools.
The bulk of responsibility lies with the school receiving a transfer student. In this case, Memorial needed to file a waiver affidavit for NHIAA approval.
Central principal Ronald Mailhot said his school followed student-transfer procedure.
Memorial principal Arthur Adamakos, who took a sick leave last spring and did not return until the 2012-13 school year started, told the Union Leader “we goofed on” the paperwork process. Adamakos, a longtime Queen City principal, said he has always abruptly ended any conversation with individuals seeking a transfer for athletic purposes.
The player – whose name was withheld from publication in the statewide newspaper – was deemed ineligible to play in the Central-Memorial game.
'COMPETITION FOR A CAUSE'
Windham's Jaguars sold “Black Out Cancer” t-shirts and purchased alternative jerseys for their Sept. 24 Division IV football game against St. Thomas Aquinas.
The Jags – donning all-black uniforms with green numbers – won the Week 4 clash between last year's Division V finalists, 51-16. They also raised $3,000 for the American Cancer Society's “Coaches vs. Cancer” program.
The fundraising goal was $2,000, said Bill Raycraft, Windham's head coach and athletics director.
STA head coach Eric Cumba, whose team's many supporters wore white t-shirts in support of the fight against cancer, called the game “competition for a cause.”
Windham used portable lights to play the Friday night game. Raycraft said the head count was tough to estimate.
“It was deep around the field,” Raycraft said. “I know the principal said there were no parking spots left. It was a packed house.”
Marc Thaler is a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader. He co-hosts the “N.H. High School Football Show” on WGIR-AM 610 and WQSO-FM 96.7. Read his blog at NewHampshireGameDay.com and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.