The Topeka RoadRunners, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are pleased to announce that second year forward Sean Gaffney has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the University of Connecticut Huskies (soon-to-be Hockey East) beginning in Fall 2013. At the time of his commitment, he is the leading scorer in the NAHL with 38 points in 27 games.
Gaffney developed his love for the game at an early age. “My dad was a huge reason I began playing hockey”, he recalls. “He was a hockey player himself and threw skates on me right away. I stated playing at about 4 and loved it ever since.” His path led him to Detroit Catholic Central High School, a program that has sent Topeka a stream of eventual Division I players including Tony Thomas (Air Force), Nickolas Gatt (Michigan State), and Davey Middleton (Brown). “Growing up it had always been a dream of mine to play for my school at Detroit Catholic Central. The brotherhood and tradition I experienced while at CC still amazes me when I look back. I will never forget winning a state championship with my brothers while playing there under Todd Johnson. Catholic Central is truly a special place.”
As much as he enjoyed his time at Catholic Central, he began to consider what be his next move. “Playing junior hockey after high school had always been in the back of my mind, and as I developed as a player during my high school career it became more and more of a possibility”, Gaffney revealed. “It was a very tough decision for me to decide to put off going to University of Michigan and opt for juniors but looking back I could not be any happier with my choice.” The junior landscape can offer players a huge array of choices and decisions, but for Gaffney, Topeka was an easy one to make. “I was very excited when the opportunity to play for Topeka came about. Topeka has had a number of success stories with players from my high school so it was an easy decision to come here.” He went on to add, “I had heard nothing but good things about coaching staff here in Topeka.”
His head coach in Topeka, Scott Langer likewise has nothing but good things to say about his second year forward and alternate captain. “Sean is a come-to-work everyday type of player. He is extremely deserving of every positive that comes his way.” Langer adds, “We are proud to have such a complete young man represent our program.” Of course, Gaffney’s on-ice successes haven’t gone unnoticed. “Sean's play warranted him a lot of interest, and I feel UConn is getting a very good two way forward that could make an immediate impact next season.”
It may come as no surprise that Gaffney would list a Detroit Red Wing as a player he most tries to pattern his game after. “Living near Detroit I have had the privilege of watching Pavel Datsyuk practice and play for the Wings. I study his game and do my best to emulate him.”
His time in Topeka has been productive. “Being a part of the family environment here with the RoadRunner organization has helped to shape me as a person as well as develop as a hockey player.” Asked about those who have been influential in that development overall, he says, “My parents have always supported me throughout my hockey career. I certainly wouldn't be in this position without the love and support of my parents, Ken and Maureen. Since coming here I cannot stress enough how blessed I feel to be playing under Scott Langer. He puts me in a position to succeed and pushes me as a player and a leader. Additionally, Todd Johnson has continued to help and support me even after my high school hockey days.”
While he hasn't officially decided on a major, he lists business and finance as his primary interests. The decision to select UConn was made after a recent visit. “After seeing the campus and getting a great feel for the program, players, and staff at the University of Connecticut, I couldn't overlook the excitement and buzz around the hockey program. I am extremely excited about being a part of the new direction of Husky hockey entering Hockey East. I am looking forward to making an impact and being a part of the winning atmosphere at UCONN.”
While the balance of the 2012-13 NAHL season remains his focus, having his college plans secured allows him a moment to reflect and appreciate those who have been a part of his success. “I want to give a huge thank you to Don Stone and the Stone family for all the sacrifices they make and all they have done to establish this family atmosphere here in Topeka. I can't thank them enough and would not want to be playing anywhere else but here for them.” Of his coach, he boasts, “It is hard not to be successful when you are playing for the best coach in junior hockey. I want to thank Smacks (Langer) for bringing me in to Topeka and developing me as a hockey player. He's a player's coach, he holds you accountable, and he is the biggest reason why I am in this position right now.”
Like any good teammate and leader, his recognition also goes out to his RoadRunner brethren. “I also want to give a big shout out to my best friend roomies/next door neighbors, Dan Dupell, Luke Veitch, James Ring, and Clint Garris. Last but not least I would like to recognize my linemates, Kyle Sharkey and Tyler Andrew. These guys work tirelessly day in and day out. I wouldn't be here without them.”
Gaffney will join former RoadRunners Chris Bond, Jacob Poe, and Patrick Kirtland at UConn. Other former RoadRunners who have played at UConn include Corey Jendras, Jason Krispel, Cole Schneider, Eric Dahlberg and BJ Bayers.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)