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Watson commits to St. Anselm College

By Anthony DiPaolo, 01/09/23, 7:15PM EST


Watson becomes second blue-liner this season to commit to NCAA program

The New Jersey 87’s are proud to announce that Hayden Watson has committed to play Division II hockey at St. Anselm College for the 2023-24 season.

Watson is a 20-year-old defenseman from Mercerville, New Jersey, and is in his second season with the 87’s EHL team. Through 29 games this year, Watson has recorded a goal and nine points.

“We have a good track record there and Hayden has been a guy for us over the last two years and has done well, it’s certainly exciting to get his college career started with a great program that they have there,” said 87’s head coach Adam Houli.

Saint Anselm College is a Division II program located in Goffstown, New Hampshire. Competing in the Northeast 10 Conference, the Hawks are led by head coach Larry Rocha.

Watson spoke about his commitment to the program, as well as the opportunity to reunite with former 87’s captain and fellow defenseman, Matt Herrick.

“I’m just excited to play NCAA hockey, and it’s a bonus because I’ll get to play with one of my buddies that I played with last year in Matt Herrick,” Watson said. “It makes things so much easier; it makes me more comfortable and I feel like I’ll fit right in.”

Houli said the familiarity will be good for Watson, plus the commitment will build a good rapport with St. Anselm. “It’s nice to build a little pipeline there. Matt has loved his time there so far and I know Hayden is going to enjoy it the same way. There’s some comfortability where Hayden will know where he needs to be at his game, and playing with Matt last year and seeing it first-hand.”

In the 2021-22 season, Watson played all 46 regular season games for the 87’s while notching three goals and 14 points. He also played a key role on the blue line as the 87’s secured its first EHL title.

Watson’s accolades include several All-Star selections as well. In the 2021-22 season, he participated in the EHL All-Star Classic. Earlier this year, Watson represented the South Division in a college showcase game against Lebanon Valley College.

The three-year EHL veteran talked about his ongoing tenure with the 87’s and how it led to his commitment to St. Anselm.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot over the last two years,” Watson said. “Adam (Houli) helped me do that, whether it was playing the systems right or listening to him and what he has to say and it made me a better hockey player.”

Houli added that Watson has become a leader both on and off the ice.

“He’s been coming out of his shell as a person and that’s really nice, especially this year he’s been very outgoing. Hockey-wise we got him when he was very raw and we continue to fine-tune his game, and when he’s on, he’s a very good player. Just watching that general progress and then seeing the outside stuff really start to come to him and become more of a vocal leader, it’s been really nice to see.”

The 87’s organization would like to congratulate Hayden and his family as he gets ready to advance his hockey career to the Division II collegiate level.