by Nicole Del Villano | AHL On The Beat
On the floor, Wyatt Newpower’s path to the American Hockey League appears regular. However at a more in-depth look there have been many components, together with unwavering dedication, that obtained the Cleveland Monsters rookie defenseman to the place he’s now.
Rising up in Minnesota, hockey was the lifestyle whether or not it was shared and taught by his household, skating on the yard rink, or enjoying in neighborhood video games on the native ponds. Irrespective of the place it was, hockey was the main focus and Newpower pushed himself to be the perfect he might be.
The 23-year-old at all times had a transparent finish purpose of being in a Division I hockey program that got here to fruition when he dedicated to enjoying on the College of Connecticut. A younger athlete heading into school as a real freshman, Newpower appeared in 31 video games his first season earlier than his enjoying time was reduce virtually in half his sophomore 12 months.
“After that second season, I had a gathering with [head coach Mike Cavanaugh] and informed him that I wished to be there,” stated Newpower. “I informed him that I wished to play for them, be coached by them and I wished them to assist me.”
Persevering with alongside his proactive path, Newpower moved full-time out to Connecticut heading into his junior 12 months and started working carefully with the teaching workers to enhance his sport. That summer season ended up being what he felt was one of many largest moments of his profession, placing into movement a breakout junior 12 months and the notion that there might be extra sooner or later.
“[A hockey career] didn’t appear tremendous actual till it truly occurred final spring,” stated Newpower. “There have been at all times talks with coaches and household about how ‘this might occur’ however I by no means actually knew. As soon as I obtained to my junior 12 months of school, I had been to summer season improvement camps with NHL groups… I believe that’s when it began to sink in that I might pursue the game after school.”
When his senior 12 months was reduce quick in 2020 due the COVID-19 pandemic, Newpower flew to Florida to spend time together with his grandfather and end college. After a number of weeks, his professional goals turned actual when a proposal from the Rockford IceHogs was on the desk.
“I used to be going to signal. I had spoken to household, my agent and my grandpa, who’s an enormous affect on me,” stated Newpower. “My final name was to my coach at UConn to let him know [that I was going to sign] and thank him for all the assistance. He informed me that was nice, however to attend as a result of he had spoken to Columbus.”
The 2 events had crossed paths when the Blue Jackets would go to see 2017 draft decide Kale Howarth enjoying at UConn and Newpower left a robust impression. After a number of days and extra conversations, Newpower signed his first AHL contract deciding the perfect match for him was with Columbus.
Very similar to he had completed earlier than his junior 12 months, Newpower went all in and moved to Cleveland in October to spend time within the metropolis ready for the season to start out. The rookie linked with Monsters ahead and veteran Nathan Gerbe to work out collectively and proceed growing his sport.
“I realized loads from [Gerbe] nearly expertise, skating and puck dealing with regardless that we don’t play the identical place,” stated Newpower. “He has obtained such an ideal thoughts for all that stuff… He’s at all times attempting to get higher in some way and is a workhorse. It was nice for me to be on the ice with him and connecting with an older man immediately was big.”
A second veteran that Newpower linked with and continues to be taught from is defenseman Dillon Simpson. Paired collectively for many of the season, the rookie pulled classes on and off the ice from Simpson.
“He’s made my life a lot simpler with all of the expertise he has obtained, however he’s additionally only a nice man to be round with an ideal perspective towards the sport,” stated Newpower. “He makes the sport means simpler enjoying with him. We now have gotten to kind some chemistry right here and realized easy methods to play with one another.”
Simpson and Newpower’s on-ice chemistry translated to the rookie’s first skilled purpose in addition to three assists over 9 video games performed with the Monsters. Presently getting back from an damage, Newpower is able to earn his spot again within the lineup. Reflecting on how his summer season performed out and the place he ended up, appreciation is a phrase that involves thoughts for the trail Newpower has discovered himself on.
“I couldn’t be happier. I like it right here in Cleveland,” stated Newpower. “Town has been nice from what I’ve been in a position to expertise. Having the ability to play within the FieldHouse and to followers is unbelievable. I get excited to have the ability to get again out on the ice.”