The New Jersey 87’s are proud to announce that TJ Branish has committed to play Division II hockey at Franklin Pierce University for the 2023-2024 season.
Branish, a 21-year-old defenseman from Littleton, CO, played two seasons with the 87’s EHL team. In his first year with the team, Branish recorded three goals and 14 points in 41 regular season games, then played all nine games as the team won its first-ever EHL championship. In the 2022-23 campaign, he notched two goals and 12 points in 36 games.
Head coach Adam Houli discussed Branish’s commitment and the title he won in 2022.
“He is what we are at the 87’s. He’s a champion, he’ll always have that as he goes to Franklin Pierce. We fell short this year, and it really affected him because he wanted to be able to get back to the Frozen Finals and try to do it again, and you could see it on him when we lost, and that’s who he is and that’s what he meant to our program. He felt it, he really lived it, you hear it all the time, he was what we call the 87 way,” Houli said.
Franklin Pierce University is located in Rindge, New Hampshire and is a Division II program. Competing in the Northeast 10, the Ravens are led by head coach Shaun Millerick.
Branish spoke about his commitment and what it means to join the Ravens in the Fall.
“It feels amazing to commit. I've worked to achieve something like this for years, so it's a great feeling. All the hard work and sacrifices made not just by myself but by my family, coaches, and mentors paid off and I'm so grateful to everyone who's helped get to me to where I am today. And I'm very excited to be able to get a chance to play at a great program like FPU and compete in the NE-10 conference,” Branish said.
Four players have now gone from the 87’s to Franklin Pierce over the last two seasons. Branish will join Payton Jones, Jeremy Connor and Douglas McGuire, who all committed to FPU after winning the EHL championship in the Spring of 2022.
Over the last two seasons, TJ established himself as a dominant two-way defenseman for the 87’s. His agile skating and hockey sense allowed him to transition the play out of his own end often and into the offensive zone. Branish was also effective quarterbacking the power play with his quick puck movement and ability to thread shots through traffic.
Houli spoke more about Branish and his two years with the team, “It’ll be sad that he won’t be on the ice with us next season, but super happy he’s playing college hockey. He’ll forever be a part of this program and we’re excited for him, but he’s a guy we’ve really enjoyed having in our program for two years, and he can leave saying he’s a champion, and that’s something special.”
Branish talked about his two seasons in New Jersey and how it prepared him for the college level.
“My two years with the 87's were crucial in my development. Coach (Adam) Houli has a lot of experience moving guys to the next level and to be able to play for him was a great experience, and I grew not only as a hockey player but as a person,” he said. “The energy around the rink was awesome and to be a part of two winning seasons and a championship run really prepared me on how to compete every day and to never be satisfied.”
The 87’s organization would like to congratulate TJ and his family as he prepares to advance his hockey career to the Division II collegiate level.
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