The New Jersey 87's are proud to announce that Kei Yasuda has committed to play Division III hockey at Connecticut College for the 2021-2022 season.
Yasuda, a 20-year-old forward from Nagoya, Japan, is in his second season with the 87's EHL team. He currently leads the league in scoring with 53 points (16g, 37a) through 32 games this year, and has recorded 101 points (38g, 63a) in 80 games in the Eastern Hockey League.
Head coach Adam Houli praised Yasuda's determination to attain his commitment. "It’s awesome that Kei has been able to land at the school he wanted from the start. He has worked extremely hard to put himself in a position to be successful and was laser focused in his preparation. I am very happy for him to reach his goal," he said.
Connecticut College is a Division III program located in New London, Connecticut. Competing in the New England Small College Athletic Conference, the Camels are led by head coach Jim Ward.
"I am very honored and excited to attend Connecticut College this fall," Yasuda said of his commitment. "Connecticut College is where I wanted to go from the beginning of this season and I did everything that I could to achieve this goal, so I am glad that everything worked out."
The 20-year-old forward added that his commitment can allow him to focus on the rest of the 87's season, with the EHL playoffs coming up in just a few weeks. "It’s obviously nice to have that weight off my shoulders, but this isn’t over yet. We have the playoffs coming up and I strongly believe it is very important for me to help the 87’s to be the championship team, then make my next step," Yasuda said.
Yasuda, who left Japan as a 12-year-old to play hockey in North America, had already built up an impressive hockey resume before arriving to the 87's. He started out at the PEAC School for Elite Athletes in Toronto, ON where he trained with NHL players, represented Japan three times in the World Junior Championship, and the Connecticut Chiefs where he got his first taste of the EHL.
Since Yasuda's arrival to the Garden State, however, Houli discussed how he was able to further elevate his game and become an elite scorer at the junior level.
"When Kei first became an 87, his confidence seemed off and he was not where he needed to be. He was able to get his feet wet with us and through our talks we were able to get him going in the right direction. He was extremely focused and willing to do anything in the off season to prepare for the upcoming year and it showed from day one," Houli said. "He adapted and quickly developed into the player he is now. His preparation and focus on development is a clear example of succeeded when the hard work is put in. I am very proud of him."
Yasuda also talked about his development in his two seasons with the 87's, and how he was able to work on his game to better prepare himself for the Division III level.
"I want to thank coach Houli and coach Matty for always pushing me to my full potential and preparing me for college hockey. They always treat us professionally on and off the ice and I like how they care about all the details," Yasuda said. "Obviously winning is important, but it was clear that players’ development comes first for them. It was easy for me to trust the program and thrive to my full potential because I knew they would get me to wherever I want to go if I listened to them. I have no doubt that the 87’s is the best program in this league and I am glad that I chose to play here."
The 87's organization would like to congratulate Kei and his family as he gets ready to advance his hockey career to the Division III collegiate level.
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