It won't take a lot of gray matter for Harvard hockey coach Ted Donato to check off freshman defenseman Adam Fox's name in his starting lineup when the No. 1-seeded Crimson face No. 4 Providence on Friday in the NCAA East Regional at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.
"The impact that he has had as a freshman here has been unbelievable," Donato said Tuesday. "Offensively, he is so dynamic, and his hockey IQ and puck skills are really amongst the best that there is in college hockey. He makes big plays in big games and makes the players around him that much better. We actually tell the guys not to watch him because he plays with such feel that he makes it look easy out there. He's playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.
"Everyone talks about his offensive game, but his defensive game is pretty good, too. He has a good stick and he's always making high-end plays. He might not have the prototypical NHL size (5-foot-10, 185 pounds), but we thought he was the best defenseman coming into college hockey this year, and he's certainly played up to that level.''
The East Regional takes us to Rhode Island. pic.twitter.com/SyxA6pXDuV— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 19, 2017
Fox, who hails from Jericho, New York, on Long Island, played with the U.S. national team development program for two years where he led all under-18 defensemen in goals (nine), assists (50) and points (59). He was named the Americans' best defenseman at the 2016 U-18 World Hockey Championship where he captured a bronze medal. This year, Fox helped the U.S. win the gold medal against Canada.
Fox credits youth coach Mike Bracco for aiding his development.
"I would be remiss if I didn't give Mr. Bracco a shoutout for helping my game,'' the 19-year-old Fox said. "Then, when I played with the USNTDP, I was with a lot of skilled guys, and it taught me where to go on the ice when I didn't have the puck.''
This season, Fox has five goals and 32 assists, tops among the nation's defensemen, as he helped Harvard win the Beanpot title for the first time since 1993 and the ECAC regular-season and tournament titles. The ECAC coaches selected Fox the rookie of the year.
"He's one of the best puck-moving defensemen that I've ever played with. When you play with a guy that has that type of offensive puck skills it helps your whole team,'' said Harvard co-captain Alexander Kerfoot, a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
Fox, a Calgary Flames draft pick (third round, No. 66), takes all the accolades in stride.
"I think it's gone pretty well,'' Fox said. "We had a strong senior class coming back, and I knew we had a chance to do something special. But, going forward, we just want to win more hockey games. For me, it all starts with (goaltender) Merrick (Madsen). He's been a rock back there, and the defense has played well. Our goals margin (4.21 to 2.21) has been solid.''
Harvard assistant coach Paul Pearl, who oversees the defense, praised Fox.
"He came to us from the U.S. national development program, and he was a great player there," Pearl said. "This year, he came in and just exceeded all our expectations as a rookie this year. He's always been a point producer, and certainly he continued to do that, not only on the power play but 5-on-5, too. He has a certain calmness to his game. There's not a lot that rattles him. He sees the ice unbelievably well.
"He reminds me a bit of (NHL Hall of Famer) Brad Park with the way he comes out of the zone and heads through the neutral zone with a lot of shoulder and head fakes."
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