Journal Argus sports editor
TRENTON - The news was great coming out of Trenton recently. St. Marys native Brady Wiffen has accepted a full NCAA Division 1 scholarship, beginning next season.
The Trenton Golden Hawks’ assistant captain and leading scorer will join the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Engineers, beginning with the 2015-16 ECAC season.
RPI is located in Troy, N.Y., on a 275-acre hilltop campus overlooking the Hudson River. The city, in eastern upstate New York, has a population of approximately 50,000, and is part of a region called the Capital District.
It’s 222 miles directly south of Montreal, Que.
Rensselaer is America’s oldest technological research university, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology and web science, architecture, management, and the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
The 20-year-old Wiffen, in his fifth and final season of Junior hockey, was seeking a Division 1 scholarship. A good start this season obviously caught the attention of RPI recruiters and coaches.
“It was the second game of the year, and one of their recruiters, an assistant coach, saw me play and I got five points that game,” Wiffen said from Trenton last week.
“We played the next day in Burlington and he phoned the (RPI) head coach (Seth Appert) and told him that he had to come and see me play, and I got four points in that game. The next day, I went out and had breakfast with the coach and he told me all about their program and everything.
“Then, the following Friday, the other (RPI) assistant coach came down and watched a game.”
Among league’s top scorers
This week, Wiffen is among the top scorers in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL). In his first nine games, the big forward has eight goals—including five on powerplays—and 14 points, helping the Hawks to an 8-2 record.
“Things are clicking and I’m working well with my linemates,” Wiffen said. “The puck is going in the back of the net for me right now.”
Another person who is thrilled for Brady Wiffen is Jerome Dupont, the Hawks’ head coach.
“I couldn’t be happier for Brady,” Dupont said from Trenton last week. “He’s set an example for others with his hard work. He’s really become a very good Jr. ‘A’ player because of his commitment to improving.
“He’s a great role model for other players on our team.”
Hawks’ best player
Dupont says Wiffen has been the Golden Hawks’ “best player” early in this 2014-15 season.
“He’s been really good for us,” the coach said. “He plays in all situations. He plays against the other team’s top lines, and he kills penalties.
“He also brings some physical play, and he has great hockey sense. He has a lot of good qualities.”
Coach Dupont also believes Wiffen has the potential to play pro hockey someday.
“Brady has the potential to play pro hockey, I think it’s a possibility, but he’s got to get stronger and quicker,” the former Blackhawks’ defenceman said.
“Once he gets going, he’s very fast. But he’s got to become more explosive and more agile in tight quarters to be an NHLer in my opinion.
“But he has the mind for the game. If he continues to improve and becomes a real good collegiate player, then pro hockey is attainable for sure.”
After two years with the Jr. ‘B’ Lincolns, Wiffen is now in his third season in the OJHL. Last season, he had a team-high 28 goals and 54 points in 52 games to finish third in Hawks’ team scoring. Five of his goals were game winners.
He was also selected to the OJHL North-East Conference all-star team.
•Former Lincolns’ captain Mike Siddall (2012-14) is also off to a great start in Trenton this fall. In his first 10 games with the Golden Hawks, the 19-year-old centre has six goals and 12 points—good for third in team scoring.
•One of Brady Wiffen’s teammates with the Engineers will be Lou Nanne, whose grandfather Lou Nanne played, coached and was GM of the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars.
•Back in the early 1970s, former Lincolns’ forward Ken McCutcheon also attended RPI on a hockey scholarship.
•Trenton is currently battling it out with Cobourg (9-2) and Whitby (7-2-1) for top spot in the OJHL’s East Division.
Cobourg has the best record to date in the entire 22-team OJHL.