After Game One of the Boston Bruins’ series against the Ottawa Senators in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the buzz around Boston was about newcomer Charlie McAvoy. Having just finished his sophomore season with Boston University and won the gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championships in January, he finished off the season playing four games for the AHL’s Providence Bruins.
McAvoy’s time in Providence proved short-lived, as the NHL Bruins were decimated by injuries to their defensemen, and he made the trip up I-95 for his NHL debut at the start of the playoffs. Unlike most debutants, however, McAvoy quickly made an impact and played more minutes than anybody else on the roster. Though the Bruins fell in six games, McAvoy showcased his skills in what should be the beginning of a productive NHL career.
“It was crazy, I couldn’t really have imagined it,” he said about making his NHL debut in the Playoffs. “It was really special to get in there and get that experience and hopefully we’ll be right back in it next season.”
Growing up in Long Beach, NY, McAvoy had a number of local options for his hockey career, but he chose to venture off Long Island and spend his youth playing for the New Jersey Rockets.
“I wanted to play junior hockey and I knew that the Rockets would be the best option for myself as far as growth and development against older guys. It was something I wanted to do instead of playing U16 or U18. It was great for my development,” he recalled.
After learning about the Rockets organization, McAvoy decided the team would be the perfect fit for an aspiring player, particularly one who wanted to jump-start his career. To McAvoy, the Rockets provided everything someone in his shoes could ask for, but more importantly, the results spoke for themselves.
“The Rockets had a legacy. Ryan Hitchcock and Kevin Labanc were guys who recently finished their time in the organization and were moving on to great places. I knew I wanted to get a chance to play for the NTDP and at least put myself on the map and get a college offer,” he stated. “I knew if I went to the Rockets, I would do that. Pair that with great coaching, great people, a comfortable environment to play in and good off-ice training as well and I knew I had found a home. It allowed me to take off that year.”
By the time he arrived in Ann Arbor to play for the National Team, McAvoy was ready. He credited the training offered by the Rockets as one of the main reasons he was able to make an impact on the most heavily-scouted team in the country and set him up for future success.
“When I was with the Rockets, we’d be at the rink for four or five hours a day with off-ice and on-ice training. That prepared me for what to expect. When you’re with the NTDP, you get in there and right away you’re working off-ice and skating every day. I had that schedule down beforehand thanks to my time with the Rockets,” he recalled.
Thanks to the Rockets, he made the jump to the NTDP, and later to Boston University. He played in two IIHF World Junior Championships, taking home a bronze medal in 2016 and gold in 2017. He made his NHL debut at age 19 and later played for Team USA in the IIHF World Championships alongside young superstars such as Jack Eichel. It’s safe to say that in McAvoy’s 19 years, he has already added his name to the Rockets’ storied history.