The JRFlyers have their first commitment of the 2018-19 season! Forward Michael Houlihan is NCAA bound. The 6’1, 98 birthyear from Anchorage, Alaska is heading to Nazareth College in Rochester, New York for College Hockey. Houlihan has had a great season for the JRFlyers with 25 goals and 15 assists giving him 40 points in 30 games played. The JRFlyers currently have an Alum playing there now, as Casey Kubara suited up for the JRFlyers back in 2016-17. Nazareth is part of the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC).
Sending players to College is a main priority for the JRFlyers and the EHL. This is Houlihan’s first season with Philadelphia and he talks about his time with the team. “It has been a great experience playing for the JRFlyers, all of the guys clicked right away. It was like walking into the locker room halfway through a season. That really helped me elevate my game to where it is now because I knew they had my back since day one. Also, Jerry (Domish) has helped me on the ice as well to make me a better hockey player. On the ice, I’ve learned how to read the ice faster which in turn helps with making quicker decisions. I’ve also been pushing myself to go as hard and fast as I can in practice so I am challenging myself every day and making myself a faster player.” What you don’t see on the stat sheet is players coming from all parts of the world come to the JRFlyers and must live here as well as play hockey. Houlihan talked about being off the ice and how it is just as important. “I’ve been living with three of my teammates instead of a billet this year. I realized life is all about hard work as well as smart work. I have been working at the rink 3 days a week for 5 hours a day, so I am at the rink until around 9pm most days. It has taught me how to plan for my whole day instead of just worrying about hockey. It is similar to having two jobs, with hockey being the first of course. In the gym the team Trainer Austin has taught me how to eat healthy and keep my weight during the season which has been a struggle for me in the past. He has also made me a stronger and faster player on the ice.”
While attending Nazareth, Houlihan plans on majoring in Business, and has already set a few goals for himself. “The first goal I have is obviously to get my degree to set myself up for the future. On the ice, I would like to be one of the top 10 players at the NCAA Division III Level. It is a tall task, but I am willing to put in the work to get the results. I would also like to be a key player for Nazareth and eventually help the team win a National Championship.”
Head Coach Jerry Domish recruited Houlihan and has seen him grow this season. “He has come in and worked really hard to be the player he is. He is always asking me questions and trying to get better every day. He has improved defensively and has become better at using all the players around him instead of being one dimensional. I think he will be able to be a top six forward from the start. He will be able to provide lots of offense for Nazareth while he adjusts his game to the next level. I know he will be very successful.”
Next stop is Nazareth, but before the next phase of his career, Houlihan wanted to thank those who helped him along the way. “I would like to thank my Mom and Dad for always being my back bone and pushing me to be my very best on the ice and in school. I would like the thank my sisters for always believing in me. I would like to thank my Grandparents for actually introducing me to hockey at a very young age. I would like to thank the rest of my family as well for always being the best crowd at my games and for believing in me. I would also like to thank my Performance Trainer Brandon Kress for helping me develop into a better player every year. I would like to thank Greg VanOver for giving me a shot at the AAA level, I would not be here today if I never had that opportunity. I would also like to thank Jeff Heimel and Zach Bumgarner for bringing the love of hockey back into my life and for helping me always compete and have a passion to win. Also thank you Sam Hunt for helping through the recruitment process. Finally, I would like to thank the rest of my Coaches as well as my teachers for teaching me countless life lessons and pushing me to do my best.”
Lastly, he wanted to thank the boys he shared the ice with: “To all my teammates on the JRFlyers, I would like to thank all of you for helping me become not only a better player on the ice but a better person off the ice. Thank you for making myself believe that this could come true and picking me up whenever I was down. You are all my brothers and you know I always got your back!”
Congratulations Michael on a successful junior hockey career. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the JRFlyers. Next stop, the NCAA! Now, you will always be a member of the JRFlyers Family.
By: Joe Sindoni
Director of Broadcasting
Play by Play Announcer