Adam Erne is a big name in USHL circles, and that circle is only getting larger as the 15 year old finishes up his first season of Jr. A hockey with the Indiana Ice. The left winger has tallied 10 goals and 18 points in 45 regular season games with the Ice this year, but anybody who’s had a chance to see Erne knows that’s only the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended).
Erne is a dyanmic forward who skates well and has creativity and offensive flair that rivals 19 year old players in the USHL. While he could get by on that skill-set alone, Erne is a workhorse and competes every shift despite being one of the youngest players in the league. His stature certainly isn’t overly imposing, but Erne finishes checks and shows the type of grit that coaches love to see out of players.
The Branford, Connecticut, native is not NHL draft eligible until 2013, but is already regarded as one of the top 1995 born players in the world today. I had the opportunity to arrange an email interview with Adam, and special thanks goes out to Jason Burkman, Indiana’s vice president of hockey and media services, for setting it up.
Going back a couple years to your last year of Minor Hockey; how did you make your decision to leave the East Coast and play out in California with the LA Selects instead of maybe taking the more traditional prep school route for kids from your area?
The 2008-2009 season was my first year of Bantam hockey. In the summer of 2008, I played for LA Selects for a couple of tournaments. I think I learned more from the LA coaching staff in those short tournaments than I did in my previous couple of seasons all together. It’s nothing against the other coaches because they were all great but the LA coaches – Bill Comrie, Rick Kelly, and Sandy Gasseau taught me so much. LA asked if I wanted to come play for them to start the Bantam season but my parents didn’t know how it would work so I agreed to start the season as a tournament player with them.
By Christmas time, my parents were convinced I should be out there full time. I considered prep school the next season but ended up going back to LA for my Bantam major year because I still felt the coaches could help me with my game even more. I was very close to attending Avon Old Farms for my Sophomore year but my dad and I talked and agreed after he did the research that the Junior path would be a better path for me.
How did you find the experience playing away from home at that age and do you think it helped you moving forward?
Moving away to LA at 13 years old helped me a lot. Mr. and Mrs. Comrie let me come live with them and their 2 boys Eric and Ty. Eric was our starting goalie. They treated me as one of the family which made it easy for me. They were all awesome. Bill was always coaching me, even at home. The experience made the transition to live in Indiana very easy. I was used to living away from home so this was nothing new.
Last off-season you were one of a handful of 95’ born players drafted into the USHL. Tell me about what that experience was like for you and if there was any added sense of excitement being drafted with your minor hockey teammate Eric Comrie.
I was very excited that I was drafted by Indiana. I didn’t expect it so it was a surprise. And then when Eric Comrie was drafted by the same team, it was even more exciting. Eric decided to play another year for the LA Selects but it would have been great if he came to Indiana and we could have played together. Who knows, maybe he will come next year. I was happy that Indiana took a chance and drafted me.
This season it was expected that you were going to play in the AJHL with New Jersey but you were able to make the jump to Indiana and play in the USHL as a true 15 year old. Was that a surprise to you, and how did you handle that situation when it became clear you’d be playing in the United States’ top junior league at such a young age.
I started the pre-season with New Jersey. The coach, Bob Thornton, was another great coach for me. Even though it was for a short time, I learned a lot from him. Playing in several junior games with him showed me I could play with older players. When Indiana asked me to come there, I wasn’t sure if I was ready but I talked it over with my parents and my advisor and we all agreed to give it a shot.
Making a USHL team was obviously a great way to cap off what was surely a whirlwind summer. You made an NCAA commitment to Boston University last year for 2013, what were some of the things about the school that made you inclined to commit to that program over some of the others that may have been courting you?
We visited a few other schools before going to BU and I liked them all. My dad told me that I would most likely know the school I wanted to go to when I saw it. I had no intentions of committing to BU when I did last summer. To me, it was exactly what I was looking for. The campus was great, the new arena was awesome, and the coaches were the best. Coach Parker was great. He spent so much time and explained so much to me. He was funny and made me feel comfortable. Mike Bavis, the assistant coach was also great. He gave us the tour and told us all the history of the school. Once I sat with the coaches and heard what they had to say, I knew that was where I wanted to go and I committed on the spot.
Another 15 year old USHL player, Anthony DeAngelo, is also committed to BU, did that play into your decision to commit at all and how would you describe your relationship with him?
I know Anthony DeAngelo. We text each other once in a while. We haven’t played together much though. Honestly, I had no idea he was going to commit to BU or that he even visited the school. My decision was based on what I saw and heard.
This year you’ll also be getting some Major Junior consideration north of the border as it’s your draft year in the QMJHL. Did you ever put any consideration into taking that route or has the NCAA always been your path?
I have heard things about the QMJHL but I don’t know much about the league. I am happy in the USHL and I am looking forward to going to BU in a few years. The NCAA is producing more and more players that are drafted to the NHL every year. Everyone has their own view but I think the NCAA is the right path. Not too many players make it to the NHL so going to college is smart.
You’ve put together a pretty nice season as a 15 year old this year, clearly showing that you’re physically ready for junior hockey and have a pretty adept scoring touch. What are some of the things you’ve noticed as areas for improvement in your game?
The speed of this league was the biggest adjustment. It is so fast and you have to make decisions very quickly. I have been working hard on my defensive game this year as I was not as strong in that area earlier in the season but I believe I have improved that a lot. This summer I will be doing a lot of off-ice training to work on my foot speed and core strength.
With the culmination of the regular season, obviously you guys will be looking to make some noise in the playoffs. How would you describe your experience playing in the USHL this season and what are some of the things you’re going to take away from your rookie season?
This season has been very fun for me. It’s like I have a new family with this team. We are all very close which is a big reason why we are winning. I have learned to fight through some tough situations too. I am used to playing a lot in big games and big situations but here I am the youngest and don’t always get the ice time I am used to getting. That part is hard for me because I want to be a part of it every game. I am very competitive. The whole experience has been great though. The guys have been great to be around and taught me a lot. I want to be a top player next season and I know what I need to do over the summer to make that happen.