The Rockets Hockey Club, currently ranked 14th among Tier-1 AAA 16U teams in the nation (according to MYHockeyrankings.com), continues to produce future NCAA Division 1 talent.
Most recently, on Thanksgiving Day, second-year 16U defenseman Michael Rubin announced his commitment to Merrimack College. Rubin is expected to arrive at the North Andover, Mass.-based campus in the Fall of 2022.
Rubin, an ‘03 from Blauvelt, N.Y., had originally started out with the Rockets’ 15U team, but it was clear early on that there was nothing holding him back from excelling at the 16U level. He proved that by scoring 38 points in 30 USPHL 16U games alone last year, in addition to many more points in non-league games.
“Playing for the Rockets helped me develop my game and get stronger off the ice,” said Rubin.
“Michael is a very smart hockey player. He is solid at his defensive position and knows when to join the rush,” added Steve Brown, the Rockets 16U team’s Assistant Coach, focusing on the defensemen. “Michael has continuously improved over the past few years, but there has been a noticeable difference in his work ethic and commitment in the current year. He is a perfect example of a kid willing to work through adversity to achieve his goals.”
Rubin continues to be a key contributor both defensively and offensively for the Rockets. This year, he had 12 points through his first eight USPHL contests. With a few more years of high-level play, Merrimack College will be getting a straight-ahead, two-way defenseman.
“The thing I liked most at Merrimack was the coaching staff and their confidence in me as a player,” Rubin said.
“The Warriors are getting a great kid with a lot of upside potential,” added Brown.
Rubin now joins teammates Gleb Veremyev (Penn State) and Matthew Brille (Brown University) as Rockets 16U players with NCAA Division 1 commitments.
The USPHL congratulates Michael Rubin and his family, and Merrimack College.
Rockets 16U forward Gleb Veremyev has committed to Penn State. The 6’3, 181-pound forward from Sayreville, New Jersey made his decision recently and told USPHL.com he’s thrilled to be joining what has become a top-notch Division 1 program.
“I love the coaching staff and the facilities,” Veremyev said. “It’s a great school and one of the tops in the country. They’re unbelievable every year and I feel like going there is best for my development.”
Veremyev, who was called up to 16U late last season, already has four goals and three assists in just seven games for the Rockets this season. Last season with the 15U team, he had 17 goals and 26 assists in 21 games and then a goal and an assist in three games with the 16U squad. Veremyev also tore it up with his high school team, Monroe Township (NJ), finishing with 31 goals and 38 assists.
Veremyev told USPHL.com he could not achieve such success and now this opportunity with the Nittany Lions without his parents and the Rockets program.
“Of course my parents and I gotta say thank you to Noel and the Rockets,” he said when asked what led to his chance to play for Penn State. “They have such a great program. It’s a pleasure coming to the rink every day and working with all my teammates. We have state of the art facilities and the Rockets have really helped. Also, all my other coaches I played for.”
Rockets head coach Noel Rubin had nothing but praise for the power forward who is a force every time he steps on the ice.
Gleb is a power forward w a long reach who is lethal in the offensive zone,” Rubin told USPHL.com. “His ability to protect the puck and take pucks to hard areas make him very difficult to defend. He creates offense off the rush w his length and ability to find space. I’m very excited for him and anxious to watch him lead my team into the second half of season. His ceiling and potential are unlimited when he fills out and puts on some more muscle to his frame he can be a dominant player at the next level.”
Veremyev said his goal all along has been and continues to be a dominant player that combines scoring and speed.
“I really want to dominate when I’m on the ice,” he said. “I want to always be a presence and I try to do that by being fast, playing physical, shooting as much as possible. I really wanted to work on that scoring touch. That means going to the net, shooting pucks every day. With the speed, I run and do sprints off the ice and work on my pace and stamina.”
Matthew Brille will always have positive memories of the Fall Beantown Classic showcase that only ended this past Monday, Oct. 28.
Two days earlier, at the Beantown, the Rockets Hockey Club forward officially gave his verbal commitment to Brown University, with the intent to start there in the Fall of 2022.
“It happened on Saturday [Oct. 26]. I had been talking to them for a couple weeks. They came and watched a bunch of our games,” said Brille, an ‘03-born native of Bethesda, Md. “I then went on a tour of the campus with a couple of their assistant coaches and I talked to the head coach.”
Brille was drawn to Brown in large part due to the experience and expertise of their coaching staff, formed by Head Coach Brendan Whittet and Assistant Coaches Jason Guerriero and Jason Smith. Ed Kesell is also on board as a Volunteer Goaltending Coach.
“They have an amazing coaching staff, and an excellent hockey program with very high expectations for the future. And they offer a world-class education,” said Brille. “They liked my compete level and hockey IQ, and those are strengths that I pride myself on.”
They also contribute to a Rockets Hockey Club that is currently ranked 12th in the nation among Tier-1 AAA 16U teams. He currently has seven points in the three USPHL games he has played.
“Matthew Brille has been our heart and soul this year. He is an elite penalty killer who rarely loses a battle and is a top shot blocker,” said Rockets Head Coach Noel Rubin. “He has a blend of speed, skill and toughness which makes him such a huge part of our team success. He can score, hit and make plays. We are proud and excited about his commitment to Brown University.”
Brille split last year between the Rockets’ USPHL 15U team and the 16U squad, and he scored at better than a point per game pace at both levels, just as he has done in the early going.
Being ranked 12th carries with it a big bullseye when the Rockets go out for game, such as this coming weekend when they play two games against Compuware, the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies and the Long Island Gulls, also highly ranked by MYHockeyrankings.
“It’s tough because everyone knows how high you’re ranked and everyone’s coming out to get you. There are no easy games,” said Brille. “It’s a great group of guys and the Rockets are a first-class organization.”
He has also enjoyed the games he’s played within the USPHL, where the Rockets were the top team in the 15U Division right up until the championship final.
“There are a lot of good teams. Every team is going to come out gunning, and we have more physical games there than we do against the top 10-type teams,” Brille added. “You have to come out prepared in the USPHL games.”
Brille has a few years ahead before he becomes an NCAA player, and he certainly has areas of his game he wants to improve upon before his full-time arrival in Providence. He gives a lot of credit to Coach Rubin for pushing him to be a more complete hockey player every time he steps on the ice.
“I’m hoping that I’ll be a 200-foot player, someone who is reliable in my zone and gets his chances,” said Brille. “I pride myself on defense, and I hope to keep that consistent before I get to Brown while also helping my team offensively.”