The United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) is a junior hockey league that brings junior hockey to the next level. The USPHL is comprised of more then 170 teams and has a blueprint across the United States which include divisions in NCDC, Premier, Elite, 18U, 16U, 16U Futures and Youth.
Syracuse moved their NCDC, Premier and 18U teams to Utica for this season. Henry Froass, who grew up playing hockey in Clinton, is a member of the Stars Premier team. He was kind enough to answer a few questions and give us some insight into the league and his decision to continue his career by joining the Stars. Froass currently sits third on the team with 14 goals and 17 assists, good for 31 points, through 28 games.
315 Hockey: How many years did you play youth hockey in Clinton? You played 4 years for Mohawk Valley High School too, correct?
Henry Froass: I played for Clinton for 11 years and Mohawk Valley High School for 4 years. Playing for Clinton and high school hockey is one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to stay in the area. I learned a lot from playing there so staying close to where my hockey roots were was a pretty easy decision. I was captain my junior and senior years. I was named the Mohawk Valley Player of the Year my senior year. I also was captain of Oneida’s varsity football and baseball teams.
315: Why did you choose to play the USPHL?
Froass: I decided to play in the USPHL because I felt the development to become a player at the next level was better than any other league. I also felt the competition is better throughout the league to help me become a better player.
315: Why did you choose Syracuse instead of any other Premier teams, or did they reach out to you?
Froass: I chose Syracuse because I played for their 18U team last year and I knew the program. I was already familiar with the coaches. They were familiar with my skills, strengths and weaknesses which was important. Also, at the end of the day it really helped that I could live at home and still play for a good team that was right down the road from me.
315: What is your favorite part about playing in the USPHL?
Froass: My favorite part of the USPHL is the level of competition every day. Everyday our team comes to compete during practice. Then you have to bring your best on game day because every team is just as good as the next. Every point in the standings makes a big difference at the end of the season. It’s also great to see kids from different states and countries come together and bond over one common goal.
315: What are your expectations for the rest of the season?
Froass: My expectations are that our team will prove that we’re one of the best teams in the USPHL and we can compete with anyone we face. I think we have the talent and teamwork that a good team needs and ultimately we’re trying to go from a good team to a great team.
315: Have any hockey programs reached out to you about joining them next year?
Froass: I haven’t had any offers yet but I’m still working towards it and hopefully soon enough I’ll have something.
315: If you do not receive any other offers do you plan on staying in the USPHL until you age out in a couple years?
Froass: Next year if I’m still playing junior hockey I would like to move up to NCDC. I’d still like to be playing for Syracuse and stay in my hometown.
315: Do you have any advice for other hockey players who want to move on to the next level and continue playing after high school?
Froass: My advice would be that there is always more that you can do. Outside of practice and games there’s always something to do that can help improve your game. It can be as simple as shooting pucks or sit ups and push ups. Playing other sports other than hockey also helps. I think the biggest difference for me was that football, baseball, and hockey all made me a better athlete for the next sport. But, they were different enough that I wasn’t overusing the same muscles the whole year. Also reach out to coaches and keep your parents/family involved in what you want to do because their insight and support will help more than you think.
315: What are you hoping to accomplish by playing in the USPHL? Just to keep playing competitive hockey or are you trying to move to the next level and play college/college club somewhere?
Froass: I’d say both. I could have played for a college club team but I felt the competition wouldn’t be the same as playing in the USPHL. I want to play for a college team where I can be a student-athlete while continuing to play at a high level.
Henry Froass and his Syracuse Stars Premier team currently sit in second place in the North East division with a 14-12-1 record. The Stars open up the second half of their season with eight road games. They will return to the Mohawk Valley on January 26th and 27th for two games against the Jersey Shore Whalers.