Quinnipiac University freshman defenseman Chase Priskie might be the best draft-eligible player that you’ve never heard of. The Pembroke Pines, FL native is one of the most promising young defenders coming out of the NCAA this season.
Part of what has made Priskie so good this season is his ability to join offensive rushes without it coming at the expense of his defensive responsibilities. It took Priskie some time to develop that part of his game, and it wasn’t always easy.
“I had talked with Rand (Head Coach Rand Pecknold) before the year started and he kind of said to me that, no matter how many points I got this year, if I wasn’t able to become great in our defensive zone then I wouldn’t be playing,” Priskie explained. “That was something that I took to heart because I knew I had to get better at it. I just worked real hard this summer and in the preseason. Guys like Derek (Smith), Connor (Clifton), and Devon (Toews) all helped me to adjust to and continually work on that. I don’t think I would be as good defensively as I am now if it weren’t for those guys.”
“Chase has been an offensive defenseman since he’s been a kid,” Associate Head Coach Reid Cashman said of Priskie. “That’s what we saw as a staff right away, and that was what we fell in love with. He’s always had success with that. I think Chase has and continues to learn to defend against 24 and 25 year olds as well as bigger college hockey players. He’s worked hard at crafting that both in practice and in the video room to get better at it. So Chase is at a point now where I trust him to counter the other teams’ top lines because of his skating ability and his stick. He’s gotten so much better with that.”
Priskie began the season as junior Derek Smith’s defensive partner before moving to become junior Connor Clifton’s (ARI) partner. As Priskie explains, the two players were instrumental in helping him adjust to a change that would have a tremendous impact on his play.
“I started the season with Derek and I was playing right defense, which is the side that I grew up playing,” said Priskie. “For about the first 20 or so games, that’s where I was playing. Derek has sort of brought me under his wing and would give me tips and advice on how I should play this (situation) or about stick positioning.
“When Coach Cashman decided to move me to left defense, it became a different role in the system for me to play. I think he felt that this was the position that I would be playing for the rest of my collegiate career. So when I was moved to the left, I started playing with Connor. Playing with Connor is such a different playing atmosphere because his style of play is different from Derek’s. At the beginning it was a little difficult because it’s just two different styles of play. I think in our system, the right defenseman has a little more offensive leeway than the left defenseman does. So it’s just a different style of play. The coaches felt that I was better suited as a left defenseman. When I got used to it, I began to enjoy playing there.”
Two of Priskie’s greatest assets are his superb skating and his hockey sense. He has combined those assets to use them quite effectively in not only offensive situations, but in defensive situations as well.
“I think with Chase’s skating ability, hockey IQ and his ability to anticipate the play, it allows him to be up and create offense,” Cashman said. “When there are turnovers, Chase has his gap that he’s established.”
One quality that many, if not all NHL teams look for in their potential draft selections is character. Priskie is quite humble and realistic. He knows his limitations, but isn’t afraid to push his boundaries. Furthermore, he possesses an unwavering commitment to improving all aspects of his game. It’s these attributes, among others, that have Cashman excited about Priskie’s future.
“Chase is just an unbelievable kid,” said Cashman. “He’s had to face some adversity in his life and has been able to get through that. He’s just one of the hardest workers that I have. If you look at what Chase has done since arriving on campus, he’s continually gotten better. He’s just a very special player for us, and I’m really excited about his future.”
So what can Priskie offer his potential future NHL team?
“I think my greatest assets are my puck-moving ability and my ability to read the plays and jump into the holes,” explained Priskie. “I think those are the things that have definitely helped me most to become successful this year. I’m able to get the puck up to the forwards, and when the spots are there, I’m able to get incorporated into the rush and hopefully be able to get it back to try and make things happen in the offensive zone. I think a lot of that starts from having a good gap, having a good stick defensively and finishing my hits when they are there. That’s an area of my game that I’m continuously trying to improve on that Connor’s been helping me with.
“I just think my biggest asset is that I’m a puck-moving defenseman that likes to jump into the rush that is also solid defensively.”
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