BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — For Hayden Haldane, the goal has remained the same.
“Growing up,” he said, “I’ve always wanted to play college hockey.”
Haldane, 17, is set to take the next step toward reaching that goal later this year. After playing the past three school hockey seasons with Shenendehowa, Haldane — who just finished his junior year of high school — said he is planning to play later this year for the Boston Junior Bruins of the United States Premier Hockey League, a squad based in Marlborough, Mass.
Haldane said he is likely to start his season at the “Elite” level — the middle one of the league’s three divisions — and has been told an in-season call-up to the top “Premier” division is possible if he plays well early in the campaign. The USPHL’s top division annually sends dozens of its alumni into the college ranks.
“He really wants to take this road and try it out,” said Scott Louis, who coached Haldane last season with Shenendehowa hockey. “He’s probably one of our only guys that can really do that. We’re going to miss him for sure because he’s such a huge part of our program.”
A forward, Haldane had 12 goals and six assists this past season for the Plainsmen. Giving up his senior season of high school hockey, he said, was not easy.
“It was definitely the hardest decision I’ve had to make,” said Haldane, who will head to Massachusetts in mid-August to start work toward his season with the Junior Bruins.
Playing high school hockey, Haldane said, was one of the best experiences of his life. He credited his Plainsmen coaches such as Louis, Juan de la Rocha, Bryan Hunter and Bobby Karl with the development he needed to make in these past few years to do well enough at his recent USPHL tryout in Indianapolis.
“They got me to be the player I am now,” Haldane said.
“He gives you 110 percent all the time,” Louis said. “If the right people see him, he’s going to take off.”
With the Junior Bruins, Haldane said improving his foot speed will be one of his top areas of focus as he looks to turn himself into a college-level player.
“They [the Junior Bruins] have a great reputation with how they carry themselves,” Haldane said. “They don’t care if they have a winning season or not. What they care about is player development.”
KUHL SNAGS INVITE
Cam Kuhl, who played for Shenendehowa hockey before joining the USPHL’s P.A.L. Junior Islanders in the league’s Premier division, recently earned an invitation to the New York Islanders’ rookie camp this summer.
Kuhl helped Shenendehowa win a Section II championship in 2014.