The University of North Dakota triggers one particular name among Philadelphia Flyers fans. As we all know, it is the university where current coach Dave Hakstol established a reputation as a successful bench boss at the collegiate level. However, it is not the only tie between the two organizations. In 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Philadelphia selected forward, Gavin Hain, in the sixth round. Hain played for the U.S. National Under-18 Team in 2017-18 and is now in the midst of his freshman season at UND.
“So far I think it’s been good. All the older guys do a very good job helping with little things and little tips. College hockey is a big change from juniors. Playing against bigger and older guys is challenging, and it’s also a different style of hockey. There’s is a lot more getting the puck deep and grinding in the zone before getting chances.”
The college game is far different than playing in juniors, which makes this season a bit of a transition year for Hain.
“It’s a hard heavy style of hockey, similar to pro. With so many less games than a junior schedule, everybody gives it their all every single day just like in pro hockey.”
Hain completely understands that playing in the NCAA involves allowing yourself time to get comfortable with the style of game and level of competition. Expecting to come in and dominate your freshman year is not a reality for most. Hain’s goals for his freshman season reflect his humble and level-headed mentality.
“Just to get comfortable with the college lifestyle and the college game. To make an impact for our team and help us succeed every day. And to just keep getting better at everything to be able to make a bigger impact every year, and to develop as a player and a person.”
At the young age of 18, Hain still has plenty of time to develop into an NHL caliber player. Playing for UND will assist him a great deal in that. Still, the young forward clearly already has the skill and pedigree necessary to get drafted by the Flyers.
“I feel I bring hard work and a lot of passion every day. I am a very solid player in the defensive zone and like to get the puck out and get to play offense. I like to make plays off the rush as well as control the puck in the zone. I go to hard areas and like to take the puck and get to the net, and love to score and win.”
Hain understands that getting drafted is only the beginning of his long journey to the NHL. It is going to take continuous hard work and training to lace his skates for the orange and black one day.
“I have continued just to keep getting bigger and stronger everyday especially now playing college. I have also this year started working on smaller details of the game like taking the puck off the yellow clean, tips, and other hand-eye things. I also have done a lot more small area stickhandling in tight spaces to get better hands.”
As I mentioned before, the Flyers took Hain in the sixth round of the 2018 draft. Though getting drafted is a fantastic feat, competitors can’t help but allow the fact that they were selected late play with their mental state. For Hain, he tries to not pay much attention to when he was selected. At the same time, he tries to use it as motivation to prove doubter wrong.
“Obviously, everyone wants to go as high as possible, but at the end of the day getting drafted is getting drafted, and it doesn’t entitle you to anything. I think I want to prove that I should’ve gone higher, but I also don’t think about it a whole lot and just try to get better every day to accomplish my goal of a career in the NHL.”
For Gavin Hain, it is all about doing whatever it takes to succeed. Of course, he wants individual success. However, his primary goal is to go out and win hockey games. It makes perfect sense that one of his hockey idols is a real winner as well.
“I idolized and modeled my game after Jonathan Toews growing up first off because the Blackhawks were my favorite team and they were winning cups, and he was a very key role. Also, he always plays the game the right way with a lot of passion and grit but also makes a lot of unbelievable plays and goals.”
Gavin Hain may not be a household name among Flyers fans yet. That is perfectly fine. You can bet your bottom dollar that he is going to do whatever it takes to change that.
“I love to win and I have a win no matter what mentality. So I wanna win Stanley cups and I’ll do whatever I need to do to try and make that happen. There would be no better place to win than in Philadelphia.”