Sean Farrell’s junior hockey career wound up lasting one year longer than originally anticipated.
But what a year it was.
Farrell collected assists, titles and awards, the latest of which is the Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year Award. The Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year, specifically awarded to players who have played for a U.S.-based junior hockey team, is picked by a high-quality panel of junior coaches and administrators. The honor is named after Dave Tyler, who served on the USA Hockey Board of Directors for 32 years. He also played an instrumental role in the development and growth of junior hockey in the United States.
With Farrell leading the way, the Chicago Steel repeated their Anderson Cup title as the United States Hockey League’s best regular season team. Then, the Steel won the Clark Cup, which the pandemic assured could not be pursued in 2020, as the USHL’s playoff champion.
Farrell became part of the run to the two titles when the lingering impact of the pandemic took away another of his impending opportunities, the chance for the 2020 Montreal Canadiens’ fourth-round draft pick to launch his college career at Harvard.
The latest award for Farrell, already named the USHL Player of the Year, reminded one more time how well his season went.
“Obviously, I was really honored, especially after a year like this where there were a lot of changes to where I’d be playing or not playing,” said Farrell, who made a quick adjustment and returned to Chicago when Harvard’s season was canceled. “To not exactly know where I would be playing this year and then to have the success I’ve had as an individual and as a team, then adding on and getting this award really means a lot. It’s very special that I get to share that with my family and all my teammates and coaches as well.”
The 19-year-old from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, will be able to share more with his family now that he is less than an hour from home. The last four years, including graduating high school, have been spent away as he focused on junior hockey with two years playing for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, followed by two years in Chicago.
“The four years that I was in juniors, we were lucky enough to go home for Christmas every year, so I think at that time of year, everyone gets anxious to be home and see their family and friends,” said Farrell, who boosted his USHL points per game from 0.59 in his first season to 1.91 this past year. “For me personally, having those breaks and being able to go home for a little bit and just relax is huge for keeping the momentum in the season and just staying focused on hockey without getting burned out from being there so long.”
The last of those years featured Farrell producing 72 assists in 53 regular-season games and eight more in eight playoff games. He was the top USHL scorer with 101 points, but did much more.
“It was a significantly different year and I just feel like the level that he played, both on and off the puck was unique,” said Steel coach Brock Sheahan, who described Farrell’s performance as the “best season ever in USHL history.”
The next task is trying to work the same magic with a college career that is starting one year later than planned, not only for Farrell, but many of his Harvard College teammates and, for that matter, many of his Ivy League opponents.
“There’s been a lot of build up and anticipation with our season getting canceled last year,” Farrell said. “I’m really excited to get on the ice with the team. I’ve been skating with a lot of the guys, who are from around the area, so it’s been good to get to know them, but I still really haven’t met probably half the team.
“The biggest thing is it’s going to be great to meet a new group of guys and see where we’re at because the team has changed so much. Since the last time they played, it will be a completely new group, so it definitely will be interesting and really fun to get going.”
It will be an experience the Crimson will share with their Ivy rivals.
“For us and a lot of other teams in the Ivy League, it will be a lot of guys’ first taste of college hockey,” Farrell said. “I think just about half of our team will be guys that have never played college hockey. It will definitely be a little bit of an adjustment period compared to the other (NCAA Division I) teams, but I think we’ll be alright once we get going.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.