After a little bit of a slow start to his collegiate hockey career, Jeremy Price has come on strong, and he has developed into one of the top offensive threats of any ECAC defensive contingent.
The Vancouver Canucks prospect has continued to show statistical improvement since his freshman season. He had 14 points in his freshman season, 19 the next, and 23 points last season. So far in his senior season, Price is off to a strong start with four goals and six assists.
“His progression has been really good,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said.
“He is a quiet guy, but he goes about his business. He has always seen solid minutes, but I think he is playing with a new-found confidence. He is winning a lot of puck battles, which is really important in the defensive end. I think the last few games he has been playing his best few games ever. He is taking charge of the puck, and he is lugging it up the ice more than he had. He is in a good place.”
Although Price's stats may have been a little bit lower to start, that could also be because Colgate held him back a bit due to his importance to the team’s defensive play.
“We kind of held Jeremy back a little bit at the beginning,” Vaughan said. “We were really trying to get him to hone his defensive side because we knew his offensive abilities were already there.”
Now that Price has developed his defensive side he has become an important asset in the Raiders defensive end, especially on the penalty kill.
“Being on the penalty kill is a large responsibility, but I enjoy being out there with a man down because of all the pressure that is on you,” Price said. “I like to get the guys pumped up on the bench when I fire the puck down the ice.”
Price is often relied upon to run the Raiders power-play, so special teams is a very important role that he plays.
“The power-play is a huge responsibility as it can often win or lose a game [for us],” Price said. “Personally, I try and control things from up top, create some plays for other guys from moving along the line and take the shot when the lane is there. I enjoy skating the puck up on the breakout and ensuring we get a solid entry.”
The Colgate captain does a lot more for his team than would meet the eye because of the way he can inspire his teammates. His leadership abilities have helped Colgate fight back in the times when things don’t look so good.
“He is a quiet leader for us, but over the past month or so he is starting to get a lot more vocal out,” Vaughan said. “When we were down, 4-1, against Dartmouth, he was the guy on the bench that helped inspire us to come back and win, 5-4. He gave us the energy to do it, and it was really all him.”
As a Canucks prospect, Price has also had the opportunity to compete in Vancouver’s summer development camps, which has helped his progression. In addition to helping Price progress, his coach has seen a new found confidence in him when he returns to Colgate from the camps.
“I think not only for Jeremy, but every kid that goes to those camps is great for the player and us,” Vaughan said.
“I think it is wonderful some of our guys get the opportunity to do that because it helps them develop and improve. He has absolutely come back with more confidence because players can sort of gauge themselves against some of the top prospects that are high draft picks. It can only do one thing and that is make them more confident about their own game.”
As a senior, Price will have the opportunity to make the jump to the professional level. Although that may not be too far away, he has to remain focused on the goal at hand now.
“It is hard not think about [turning pro], but as of right now I am trying to just take it one game at a time,” Price said. “I can’t be worrying about going pro right now.”
As long as Price continues to grow like he has in college, he should have a very successful career at the professional level.
Follow Richard Murray on twitter via @Richie_Murray