Before Jon Quick ever stepped foot in Amherst, there was always the possibility of the talented goaltender leaving before completing his four years on the Massachusetts hockey team.
Quick brought that possibility to reality late last week when he decided to forgo his final two years of eligibility at UMass and join the professional hockey ranks.
He signed an entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings, the team that selected him in the third round (72nd overall) of the 2005 NHL amateur draft. Quick is the highest UMass hockey player taken in the draft.
The terms of the contract were not disclosed, but the Springfield Republican reported it may be in the $300,000 range for the first three years.
The Minutemen turned in the best season in school history this year making their first NCAA Tournament, a feat they owe in large part to the play of Quick in net. The team voted the sophomore its 2006-07 Most Valuable Player at its annual banquet on Saturday.
Quick finished this season with a 19-12-5 record while posting a 2.16 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. The latter two stats ranked him 11th and fifth in the nation, respectively.
The 21-year-old Quick says he left the Minutemen to pursue greater challenges and his lifelong dream of playing in the NHL.
“I felt that I was ready for a new challenge,” Quick said of his decision to turn pro. “My goal in life is to play in the NHL, it always has been. I feel that the opportunity that I have in front of me is the best opportunity for me to complete that goal.”
Before he can make the jump to the Kings, Quick must first make a stop in the American Hockey League. He will report to the Manchester (New Hampshire) Monarchs as early as this week. While he admits the professional game will be much different than what he’s used to, Quick is more excited than nervous about joining the Monarchs.
“I’m excited because it’s going to be a new experience and I’m looking forward to that,” Quick said. “I’m a little anxious to get up there. I kind of just want to get up there and see what it’s like.”
In two years at UMass – one as a fulltime starter – Quick’s record isn’t astounding (23-22-6), but he still possesses the physical skill to play hockey at the next level. Some of his career highlights include defeating Boston College in Amherst last season, a win over No. 2 New Hampshire this season, four straight wins over Maine to close out this season and open the Hockey East playoffs and, of course, this season’s NCAA Tournament.
UMass coach Don Cahoon said the topic of Quick leaving had been at the forefront ever since the Minutemen lost to Maine in the second round of the tournament on March 24.
“I’ve known for a long while that’s what he really wanted,” Cahoon said of Quick’s desires to play at the next level. “This decision was his. He did what he felt was his homework. With Jon, he really wanted to do this and no one should deny him of that.”
Cahoon was sure to point out there were no hard feelings about Quick leaving UMass early. The coach said he’ll cheer loudest for his former player and wishes him the best of luck.
When informed of Quick’s decision late last week, Cahoon said he gave his “last sell,” but there was nothing he could do to sway the young goaltender.
“I’m delighted for him,” he said. “Now that the initial shock is by me, I’m a big cheerleader. I’ll be watching the box scores and watching where he’s playing.”
Although the Minutemen would rather play the next two years with Quick in net, the timing of the decision gives the team time to prepare for next season without him. Cahoon said UMass has a goaltending recruit lined up, but couldn’t get into specifics because the player has yet to sign a National Letter of Intent.
What is certain, is that Quick’s departure opens the door for Dan Meyers. Should Cahoon bring in a recruit, his goaltending corps will consist of Meyers, Jamie Gilbert and the unnamed freshman. Meyers has to be the current favorite as Gilbert hasn’t shown much in his three years at UMass.
Meyers played in five games as a freshman this past season, three starts, and garnered praise from Cahoon on a number of occasions. He recorded a win in his first career start in the Minutemen’s season opener against Sacred Heart. Meyers was playing in that game because Quick received a one game suspension for a violation of unspecified team rules.
He then led UMass to victory over Northeastern in the midst of UMass six-game winning streak to close out the season.
Jon Pelland can be reached at [email protected] Log on to the Daily Collegian’s sports blog at dailycollegiansports.blogspot.com for more coverage of all UMass sports.