By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
From a young age, Pearl River, N.Y., native Liam McLinskey found himself drawn to the Jersey Hitmen and their multi-tiered development program.
The Hitmen brought McLinskey in as a 15-year-old and brought him along slowly, giving him a chance to be a leader at each of the 15, 16U and 18U levels for three seasons before he even stepped foot in the National Collegiate Development Conference.
And when he did, there was no doubt of his success there. He put up 122 points in 98 combined regular season and playoff games between 2019 and 2021. Fittingly, his last game in a Hitmen jersey saw him lift the NCDC playoff championship Dineen Cup over his head.
Essentially, we’re talking about a history of winning and production here (McLinskey had also won a USPHL 16U Futures – or 15U – championship for the HItmen), and it was one that not only attracted the College of the Holy Cross, but also the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings invited McLinskey to their 2023 Development Camp, held July 1-5.
“My dream is obviously to play in the NHL so receiving this invite I was extremely honored, nervous and excited all at the same time,” said McLinskey, who came off a season of scoring 21 goals and 25 points in 40 NCAA games for Holy Cross. “I was very impressed with the camp overall. It was a very beneficial experience for me in continuing to grow as a hockey player. The skill level at camp was extremely high and I felt I was able to fit as well.”
Goal-scoring was definitely an area where McLinskey showed a gift, and that is certainly what he believes helped him earn the invitation, where he was able to skate alongside recent year Red Wings NHL Entry Draft Picks, free agent pickups and other NHL hopefuls.
“I think probably my speed and my goal scoring recently,” he said, in terms of key factors in his game.
That game saw him help Holy Cross to reach the Atlantic Hockey Championship game after getting past two tough three-game best-of-three series against American International College and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Canisius defeated Holy Cross, 3-0, in the final. McLinskey’s 21 goals was a team-high and tied for second all-time for goals in a single season, while his six game-winning goals was a program record. He is tied for 10th all-time for game-winning goals in a career – as a freshman with three years remaining.
McLinskey’s nine goals during the AHA Tournament was a conference record, as well.
“It was awesome. [We] got off to a little bit of a slow start but eventually came together and strung a good end to the regular season and made a decent run in the playoffs for ourselves,” he said.
It all goes back to his time in Carolina Blue, Navy and White at the Ice Vault in Wayne, N.J. Capping his five-year Midget and Junior career in Wayne with a championship forever left a mark of pride in McLinskey’s memory bank.
“The Jersey Hitmen have had a massive impact on my career. Playing for an organization that instilled culture from a young age has only led to success,” he said. “The Hitmen have taught me to be accountable and a good teammate.”
The NCDC congratutes Liam McLinskey on his participation in the Detroit Red Wings 2023 Development Camp.