UMaine Hockey: Long journey lands Jack Musil in Orono

Matt Dewkett

Colin Shields was the last high-scoring forward from Great Britain to don the Black Bear jersey.

It was a long journey that went through three countries. It was all for a dream of landing a Division I scholarship to play college hockey in the United States.

That dream finally became a reality this past winter for Jack Musil when he latched on to an offer he couldn't refuse. Red Gendron wanted the high-scoring forward to join the University of Maine Black Bears for the 2014-15 season.

The English-born Musil left his native country for Canada to play prep school hockey before heading to Florida to play for an obscure junior team. That is where long-time junior coach Steve Jacobs of the New England Wolves first spotted him.

"Jack's story is definitely unique being from England, but he has spent the last 5 years in [North America] working toward his dream. He attended Ontario Hockey Academy and then junior hockey for the last couple years. He was under the radar so to speak when we saw him playing for a junior team in Florida," explained Jacobs, a former coach at prep school powerhouse Cushing Academy.

Musil, who will be 21 when he first takes the ice for the Black Bears, racked up 47 goals and 54 assists in 51 games played this winter for Jacobs.

Musil didn't play against the same level of competition that some of the other Maine newcomers did, but his ability to produce offense will translate to the collegiate level, according to Jacobs.

"Jack is without question a special talent and his hockey IQ is off the charts. He can beat you in so many ways with a variety of creative moves at different speeds. At times he can just slow the game down with uncanny puck control. He plays with his head up, always looking for plays with extreme calm. His exceptional vision and instinctive patience with the puck make him an offensive weapon in traffic, five-on-five and on the power play."

Maine fans might remember high-scoring Colin Shields of Scotland, who also took a round-about way getting to Orono. Jacobs believes Maine fans will take a liking to Musil's all-around game and his ability to come up big in crunch time.

"He is as strong a clutch player as I've seen, scoring big goals and distributing the puck to give teammates open net goals. He is also a strong checker who reads developing plays and uses anticipation to break up plays," said Jacobs.

Musil is the type of player that teammates will want to be around and thrive with, according to Jacobs.

"His intelligence, character, work ethic and confidence are at the highest level as well. Jack always makes an impact on the game at both ends of the ice and I am confident he will make an immediate strong contribution at Maine," added Jacobs.

Musil's story is a great lesson in perseverance and never giving up. It's one that Gendron and the Black Bear coaching staff hopes lends itself to success on the Alfond Arena ice sheet starting this fall as the program continues to rebuild.

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Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSports.

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