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A new home for Newhouse

Defenseman gets to suit up for NMU after sitting out a year

PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER Ben Newhouse of Union and John Snodgrass of Colgate go after the puck at Messa Rink Saturday, February 4, 2017.

MARQUETTE — Ben Newhouse has found a new home.

Technically, the Edina, Minnesota, native found it last year with the Northern Michigan University hockey team, but after transferring from Union College in Schenectady, New York, the defenseman was forced to sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

But this fall, he’s officially back on the ice, just that this time is at the Berry Events Center and he’s glad to be playing in Marquette, a welcome change from upstate New York.

“It was just a situation where I was at Union where it just academically, it probably wasn’t the best fit for me, and athletically it wasn’t going the way that I wanted it to,” he said. “I think this just was a better opportunity for me personally with some of the stuff in school that I could do and then athletically, having the opportunity with the amount of ‘D’ (defense) that we graduated last year.

“I think I just committed a little bit too early and I don’t really fit into the East Coast too much. The people here are a lot more my style than the East Coast.”

The Wildcats are also more his style with the team’s fast-paced style of play, and NMU head coach Grant Potulny said that even though Newhouse hasn’t played in a game yet, he’s already made his presence felt in the locker room.

“He’s a great fit for how we play,” Potulny said. “He has elite skating ability. He’s got good offensive instincts and he can play either side, right or left. He has a right shot, so he’s probably going to start on the left.

“He’s probably worked harder than almost anybody I’ve ever seen my whole time in college hockey over the course of the summer. He started in March or whenever that time was where he wanted to improve his hands. He purchased a stick from the internet, a heavy stick that they sell now, and I would have to believe that when you think of that 10,000-hour rule, Ben put a lot of time on his stick this summer.

“Outside of the rink, if you see that Shooter Tutor, he brought that at home. He put that up and he’s out there shooting.”

The 10,000-hour rule has been cited that the way to become world class in any pursuit is to practice correctly for 10,000 hours, while the Shooter Tutor is a set of hockey training devices.

“He’s been an incredible addition to our team as just a person,” the NMU coach said. “You didn’t know that when you recruited him. You recruited the athlete because you remember him being a good player in junior hockey or in high school. You heard good things about him, but until you’re around him every day, you don’t realize how phenomenal of a person he is.

“So he’s had a huge impact already and he hasn’t even played yet. I think he’s going to be one of the defensemen we really count on to play a lot of minutes this year.”

Newhouse will definitely get some minutes as he will be joining a defensive corps that looks very different from last year, when it was much more of a veteran group. However, he’s embracing the opportunity to become a leader for the Wildcats.

“I think it’s exciting,” he said. “Obviously, we lost a lot last year with our first line and our defensemen, losing (goaltender) Atte (Tolvanen) is difficult.

“But at the same time, it’s exciting with people being able to jump into new roles. Obviously, the freshmen will be able to come in and step in. Our freshmen from last year, I think, are going to make a big jump and they should be able to help everything offensively.

“The whole ‘D’ corps is basically new, so that’ll be exciting to see how that all plays out. It’ll be a learning experience and a learning curve for sure, but I think being able to have two years of previous college experience will be good for me personally to be able to, I guess, shed some of the knowledge I have a little bit.

“At the same time, it’s different though, because I haven’t played here at Northern yet.”

By sitting out last year, Newhouse is even more eager to hit the ice this fall and he feels that this year’s squad has a lot of potential despite a lack of experience.

“Having a full year off was bad,” he said. “It was the first time that I’ve never played a game in a season. It was difficult, but it was fun to be able to follow the guys.

“Obviously, it was frustrating at times because you think you could at least try to help them a little bit, but I’m super excited for the year. I think there’s a lot of potential with this group, and hopefully we can continue to build on what the seniors left. They left a legacy.

“Hopefully, the senior class this year with Phil (Beaulieu), Darien (Craighead), Luke (Voltin), they can continue to leave a better legacy as well for my senior year the following year.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.