The New Jersey 87’s are proud to announce that Isaiah McKinney has committed to play Division III hockey at Fitchburg State University for the 2023-24 season.
McKinney, a 21-year-old defenseman from Menlo Park, CA, played most of the 2022-23 season with the 87’s EHL team. Having played four games with New York Apple Core, McKinney was traded to New Jersey where he recorded three goals and four assists in 40 regular-season games.
Head coach Adam Houli spoke about McKinney and what he brought to the team from the blue line.
“Isaiah is a guy we’ve had our eyes on for quite a bit. He’s been in New Jersey for a while, so he’s someone we’ve always known and targeted. I got a chance to watch him play in the first showcase when he was with Apple Core and was really impressed with him. Adding him to our defensive corps truly rounded out our team,” Houli said.
Fitchburg State University is a Division III school located in Fitchburg, Mass. Playing in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, the Falcons are led by head coach Dean Fuller.
McKinney spoke about his commitment and explained what it means to join the program.
“To me, it means everything to commit to an NCAA program like Fitchburg. The second I stepped on campus; I knew it was the place for me for the next four years. All the hard work and dedication I’ve put in over the years has finally come to fruition and I couldn’t be more excited. There’s also no better feeling than making my family proud after all the sacrifices they’ve made for me to be where I am today,” he said.
Throughout the season, McKinney proved to be an excellent two-way defenseman who could play in any situation. The 6’4” blue-liner was able to finish checks and break up plays in his own end while using his skating and playmaking abilities to lead the offensive attack. All three of his goals and four of his seven points came on the man-advantage as he quarterbacked the 87’s power play for most of the year.
Houli praised McKinney’s all-around game, “There’s a lot of buzz about his name, he just did a lot of things right and brought an element to our back end that we didn’t quite have. He can skate, he’s gritty in the corners, he had the swag look to him, he just gave us a different perspective that we haven’t had yet. When we were able to add him, it gave us an immediate boost and we felt really comfortable with him back there, he was able to do it in every kind of situation,” he said.
McKinney talked about his time with the 87’s and how it led to his college commitment.
“Since Coach Houli made a trade for me in the beginning of the season, I knew my game was going to grow exponentially. Everything from the details-oriented practices, the intense off-ice workouts, to the fast-paced games, I grew to levels I didn’t know I could reach,” he said. “Every time I put on that 87’s jersey, I knew I was going to get better not only as a player, but as a person too.”
The 87’s organization would like to congratulate Isaiah and his family as he gets ready to advance his hockey career to the Division III collegiate level.