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Tuesday, May. 21, 2019
Chase Lammi commits to the St Lawrence Saints
by Randy Pascal

Local hockey product Chase Lammi is not about to mince words. Not being drafted into the OHL sucks.

One year later, however, the 16 year-old Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School student could provide valuable words of wisdom for those who are dealing with that same disappointment.

"I was focusing on it (the draft) a lot, putting a lot of pressure on myself to get it done," noted the forward with the 2017-2018 edition of the Sudbury Minor Midget "AAA" Wolves. "When it didn't happen, I was pretty upset, but I kept training hard."

"The first two weeks were frustrating, because I didn't know what I was going to do. I just had to push through it and work harder, believing that I could get there eventually."

Lammi has certainly taken a giant step forward in seeking to pursue his hockey dreams to the next level, signing a Letter of Commitment earlier this winter with the St Lawrence University Saints to play NCAA Division I hockey.

The bridge between Sudbury and St Lawrence, interestingly enough, would run through Espanola for the 90%+ average student. "I knew they weren't the strongest team, so I was looking at it as an opportunity to play a lot and try and get a lot of ice time, to play against the better players on other teams," said Lammi, discussing his decision to sign, last summer, with the Espanola Express of the NOJHL.

The 5'10" freshman would finish third in team scoring, netting a dozen goals as part of a 34 point season, and taking full advantage as doors were opened throughout the year. First, however, came the need for a candid self-examination, beginning with a key move from the position of center, where he had traditionally toiled, over to the wing.

"As a winger, you get more offensive time, you don't have to focus as much on defense," suggested Lammi. "I used to be really defensive, more of a PK (penalty kill) type of player and stuff like that, but nowadays, I get to play more offensive, getting time on the power play."

And there were, of course, specific skill sets that required refinement. "I thought I had to get faster, because speed is really important. I also thought I had to work more on my puck control. I was too shaky before, not holding on to the puck very well. I needed to make better and smarter plays with the puck."

His efforts were being rewarded, first garnering some attention at the NOJHL Showcase in Sudbury in October. "There was a school that was really interested and I got really excited, because that was the first one that had talked to me," admitted Lammi.

Next came the Eastern Canada Cup in Trenton, with Lammi far and away the youngest player named to the roster of NOJHL Team Powder. "We went to the Trenton tournament and a few more schools were interested, so I began to think that it was a possibility."

It was at that event that St Lawrence first reached out, subsequently arranging for an in-person visit for their young recruit to their campus in Canton, New York. "One of their assistant coaches gave me a tour of their whole school, he seemed really interested," said Lammi.

"It's a small, old school, with smaller classrooms, so I can get a good education. At Christmas, we texted back and forth, and they said they would come and watch me." As much as Lammi had grown used to the eyes of the scouts being glued to his play throughout his minor midget year, that final audition remained filled with stress.

"That was a hard game to play," said Lammi, recalling a late-season Thursday evening encounter in Chelmsford, his Espanola Express paying a visit to the home of the Rayside-Balfour Canadians. "Knowing the St Lawrence coach was coming, I was really, really nervous."

"I didn't want to make a mistake. After the game, he talked to me and my parents and made the offer. He told me that I could wait on it and thing about it, but I didn't really want to wait on it."

Moving forward, Lammi now has no choice but to wait. His commitment is effective the 2022-2023 season, meaning that for three years, he must continue to develop and progress. "They just said to get bigger, stronger, faster, to get more weight on, just improve my game and continue to develop a lot."

While he is hoping to play somewhere closer to upstate New York next winter, Lammi knows that the real key is finding a setting where he will have the chance to play and grow his game. Exactly the type of setting that Espanola provided this past winter.

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