Cents’ captain headed to UMass-Amherst
The Merritt Centen-nials hockey club was delighted to announce this past week that their captain this past season, Evan Stack, has committed to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst starting in September.
Stack, who turned 21 on May 29, will be attending one of the most prestigious schools in the American northeast, and playing NCAA Division 1 hockey for the Minutemen in a conference that includes perennial powerhouses Boston College (2011-12 national champions), Boston University, the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire.
“It all sort of came together during the playoffs and shortly thereafter,” explained Stack when contacted Sunday night at his home in Calgary. “In fact, they phoned me on the day that I was leaving Merritt and told me that they’d like to fly me down there.”
Stack made the trip to the Eastern seaboard at the beginning of May and wasn’t disappointed.
“I was pretty im-pressed. They showed me the school and all of its facilities. It just seemed like it was a really good fit.”
Stack’s mom, Moni-ca, shares her son’s sentiments. “UMass just seemed to be the perfect combination of everything. When he [Evan] came home from his visit, he was sailing on a cloud. He was just beside himself. He had this grin that couldn’t have been any bigger.”
Part of that perfect fit was UMass’s Isenberg School of Management. Stack has been accepted into its highly-regarded business program.
“The academic side of things was every bit as important to me as the hockey,” Stack stated.
During his fly-down, Stack stayed on campus with fellow Calgarian Brandon Gracel, who played for the Fort MacMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League before starting his freshman season at UMass last September.
Stack also spent time with Eric Filliou, a native of Vaudreuil, Quebec who suited up for two seasons with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL.
“They were both really great. They showed me the ropes.”
Stack is quite looking forward to his own freshman year, which will commence in mid-August. All first-year hockey players dorm together. While the actual NCAA hockey season doesn’t begin until October, a considerable amount of time is spent in the first six weeks practising, learning systems and playing exhibition games.
The articulate Stack, whose polite and well-mannered demeanor away from the rink belies a fierce competitive nature and drive on the ice, earned his scholarship to UMass the good old-fashioned way – through incredible hard work and tremendous leadership.
This year’s team captain scored 32 goals and added 29 assists for 61 points in 60 games as a second-year Centennial. Many of his goals were crucial ones, while every shift all season long was of the inspirational variety. Few Cents’ fans will forget his one-on-one rushes down the right wing, or the immense price he paid night-in, night-out in front of the opposition’s net digging for loose pucks and generally creating havoc.
“He led this team from day one of the season,” stated an immensely proud Luke Pierce, head coach and GM of the Centennials. “His dedication and commitment are unmatched.”
In a Cents’ press release last week, Pierce went on to say, “[Evan] was a major reason for the success of our team this past season. He is one of the kindest and most well-liked individuals I have ever worked with. We fully expect him to thrive at the NCAA level, and know that he’ll become an integral part of the team at UMass (Amherst).”
For his part, Stack says that he will never forget his two seasons spent in the Nicola Valley.
“The community of Merritt has been incredible to me. I really enjoyed the small-town feeling, and playing in front of all the great fans.
“I truly believe the BCHL is the best Junior A league in Canada, and playing for a guy like Luke, with the great teammates that I had, was a wonderful opportunity. I learned how to work hard, and just be a good person. I think those things can take you a long way in life.”
As for the future, and his life’s next chapter, Stack stated, “It’s going to be a challenge, but I believe that if I put in the work, I’ll definitely be up for it.”