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VJW '97 Elite Standout Netminder Elijah Harris Commits to Brown University

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 Elijah Harris is Bound for Brown
Months after VJW alum Mike Vecchione led Union College to its first-ever NCAA Hockey Championship, another ECAC school scooped up a Warrior standout.

Elijah Harris, netminder for the VJW ’97 Elite team that advanced to the USA Hockey National Championship in March, announced that he has committed to Brown University beginning with the 2015-16 season.

The junior at Austin Prep will forgo his senior season at Austin Prep and transfer to Kimball Union Academy where he will play for former Maine head coach Tim Whitehead.

“They were the first team that showed interest and that was a big indicator that they thought that I could play at that level,” said Harris, who resides in Haverhill. “You can’t go wrong with the academics, and I had a comfort level with the balance that they offer with academics and hockey.”

Prior to his announcement, Harris was considered the top elite uncommitted goaltender in New England.

“He knows what he wants,” said Steve MacAdams, the VJW director of program development and the VJW ’97 Elite head coach. “He wanted to go to a good school and wanted to play Division I hockey. That is what he wanted to do, and he gave up a lot of other things and sacrificed to get what he wanted.”

Harris, who has played in the VJW system for nearly five years, became a household name more than a year ago when he was simply outstanding during the Super 8 Tournament.

Originally labeled as perhaps too small (he stands at just 5-foot-8) to compete at the highest level, Harris proved any remaining naysayers wrong back in 2013 when he emerged as a late-season star for Austin Prep and led his team to the finals of the Super 8 Tournament. During that memorable playoff run, Harris allowed just five goals in four playoff games and turned away 117-of-122 shots for an eye-popping .959 save percentage.

“I have been lucky enough to play with great teams and play at a high level whether it was the Super 8 or at Nationals with the Warriors,” said Harris. “ I was also confident that eventually something good would come around.”

Something good and then great indeed came around very quickly. Harris earned Boston Herald All-Scholastic accolades and was selected in the seventh round of the USHL Entry Draft by the Dubuque Fighting Saints.

One year later, he led Austin Prep to the Super 8 Tournament finals and helped his VJW ’97 Elite capture a third Massachusetts State Select Championship title and advance to the USA Hockey National Championship for the third time in six years.

“You really noticed him at Nationals a few months ago,” said MacAdams. “He was unbelievable. He made 30 stops every game, and his compete level is off the charts.”

The scouting report on Harris is pretty straightforward. He has an uncanny ability to read plays and shooters’ releases. He also is able to stay calm and steady in the most hostile and stressful of environments.

“The more pucks he sees the better he is,” said MacAdams, who also serves as an assistant coach for Austin Prep. “He is competitive, but his demeanor does not change. There are no highs or lows. He is even keel whether something gets by him or he makes 10 saves in a row.”

Much of his innate talent must come from his father, Peter Harris, who is a former goalie for UMass-Lowell and a draft pick of the New York Islanders in 1986. He has also worked closely with Brian Daccord and his staff at Stop It Goaltending since he was a mite.

“What has been great is that he doesn’t train goalies to play the same way,” said Harris of Daccord who is is responsible for all goaltending training for the VJW program. “He takes what each goalie has initially and builds on what they do well and focuses on the things that they don’t do well.  In doing that, he has allowed me and other goalies to keep the uniqueness of our style.”

Although he can’t pinpoint one style that fits his mold, Harris noted that it has been helpful to see and work with New Jersey Devils netminder Cory Schneider, who is also a Daccord product, as well as other top collegiate and professional players who frequent Stop It Goaltending.

“My style is a mixture of everything I have seen goalies do that has worked out,” said Harris. “I can watch another goalie on TV and it is pretty easy for me to imitate and if it works I keep doing it. Being a smaller goalie, I have to rely on quickness and am more reactive.”

Harris is quick to give credit to those around him, including his teammates from both Austin Prep and the VJW ’97 Elite team and his mother and father who have guided him both on and off the ice.

“My dad really helped me on the hockey side of it and put a lot of time in whether it was bringing me to practices or helping me with my game,” said Harris. “My mom has helped with the academic piece and made sure my homework was done before I went to hockey. They always reinforced that academics came first, so I am happy that it all worked out and I have shown them that what they did had a positive outcome.”

MacAdams has no doubts that this is just the start of good things to come for Harris.

“I think that he will be great,” said MacAdams. “He will do well in hockey, life, school and everything else. That is just the type of kid he is.”

INDEX
VJW '97 Elite Standout Netminder Elijah Harris Commits to Brown University
2015 Set to be an Unprecedented Year for American-Born & VJW Players
VJW Alum Chris Kreider Emerges as An NHL Game Changer
Valley Jr. Warriors Put Massachusetts Back on the NHL Map - Part I of III
VJW Alum Noah Hanifin Named to U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team
Looking Forward to 2014 VJW Tournaments
Former Warrior Mike Vecchione Helps Union College Win First National Title
VJW '97 Elites Cap Off Superior Season at USA Hockey National Championship
It's Game Time for VJW U16's at the 2014 USA Hockey National Championship
Former Warriors - Fitzgerald, Silk & Vecchione - Highlight Frozen Four
Three VJW Junior A Players Announce Plans for 2014-15 Season
VJW ’97 Elites Prepare for 2014 USA Hockey U16 Tier I National Championship
Three VJW '00 Elites Participate in Prestigous East Coast Young Guns Showcase
VJW Players Highlight 2014 Super 8 Hockey Championship
Valley Jr Warrior Junior A Team Soars Into Second Round of EHL Playoffs
A Parent's Perspective: Reflections On Another Great Season of Warrior Hockey
Valley Jr Warriors Post Perfect Record on NEHL Championship Sunday
Valley Jr Warrior Teams Win Three NEHL Championship Titles
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2013 Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament Kicks Off in Haverhill
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Hunter Wilhoite Named Eastern Hockey League Defensive Player of the Week
Former Warrior Ryan Fitzgerald Named Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week
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VJW Junior A Team Happy to Be Back Home
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VJW '00 Elites Capture 2013 East Coast Classic Prep Cup Tournament Title
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