Monday, July 18, 2011

Muskegon's Thrush off to UNH year early

Following an outstanding season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, Casey Thrush has accepted a scholarship to attend the University of New Hampshire this fall and skate for the Wildcats during the 2011-12 season.

The Easton, Md., native posted 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) and finished second on the team with a +8 plus/minus rating in his rookie United States Hockey League season.

“We’re thrilled for Casey Thrush, and he’s headed to an outstanding program,” Lumberjacks owner and CEO Josh Mervis said. “Today is a great day, because this is what we’re about here – developing great athletes and preparing them for life both on and off the ice.”

Thrush planned to continue his development in Muskegon this fall and attend UNH in 2012. But an injury to another incoming freshman opened a spot, which was offered to Thrush Friday night. After consulting his vast support system, Thrush decided Monday morning to accept the scholarship.

“I feel very ready, thanks to my time playing for the Jacks. My development in Muskegon was two-fold,” Thrush said. “I got the chance to truly embed myself in the Muskegon community. That’s something I’ll never forget. As for on the ice, the competition in the USHL and all I’ve learned from (Jacks head coach Kevin Patrick and assistant coach Dave Noel-Bernier) brought me to the point where I feel prepared to make the jump to college hockey.”

Thrush admits his decision was a difficult one.

“I met so many good people in Muskegon and so many of my friends were going back,” Thrush said. “But I had to do what was right for me, and that was playing college hockey.”

Thrush consulted his family, the Jacks’ coaching staff and many others for insight. He leaned heavily on Team Maryland head coach and general manager Jason Kersner. Thrush posted 117 points in 72 games for Kersner’s AAA Midget Major team during the 2009-10 season.

“Coach Kersner knows me as a person, and I’ve always looked at him as an advisor,” Thrush said. “I took his advice, and the advice I got from Coach Patrick and Coach Noel-Bernier to heart.”

Thrush, in anticipation of another season in the premier junior league in the nation, has strictly adhered to Noel-Bernier’s legendary workout regimen.

“I’ve been working out like crazy,” Thrush said. “This season at UNH, I need to find a way to make myself a valuable player in the lineup. Whether it be by killing penalties or just routinely finishing my checks, I just need to make myself valuable.”

Thrush is the 12th member of last year’s squad who will play college hockey this fall.

“I feel very blessed to leave such a great situation like I had in Muskegon and step right into another one,” Thrush said.

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