During his one season with the Indiana Ice of the USHL junior hockey league, Jason Salvaggio scored 15 goals and added 11 assists in 52 games. Upon arriving at the University of New Hampshire, however, that scoring touch dried up. Salvaggio, a Weymouth native, contributed just three assists his freshman season, and found the net three times last year.
That all changed this year. Through 26 games, Salvaggio has emerged as a major offensive threat for the Wildcats (11-11-4, 6-5-3 Hockey East) with 15 goals and 10 assists. He is tied for second on the team in goals and third in total points. The 6-foot junior has three game-winning goals, the most recent in a 6-4 win against Maine in which he netted another goal and two assists.
Salvaggio spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Xaverian Brothers High in Westwood, before transferring to South Kent (Conn.) High School. At Kent, Salvaggio scored 54 goals and 40 assists in 62 games.
Q. Your offensive production has increased dramatically this season. Are you doing anything differently?
A. I find myself definitely shooting the puck more than previous seasons. The coaching staff has given me an amazing opportunity to play with linemates Tyler Kelleher and Michael McNicholas. These two guys are some of my best friends off the ice, which helped us develop chemistry quickly on the ice. We have lived together all three years at UNH. Both of these players have amazing skill and vision on the ice, and I try to make the most of my opportunities playing with them.
Q. What is your biggest asset on the ice?
A. I’d say the release of my shot. I try to get the puck off my stick and into the net as quick as possible. I love to shoot the puck from anywhere on the ice.
Q. How did you end up at UNH? How was the recruiting process?
A. I committed to UNH in 2013. I had other interest from Hockey East schools, but when I visited UNH I knew I wanted to play my college hockey here. The hockey has amazing history, and the coaching staff made me feel apart of the UNH hockey family right away. The campus is amazing and was exactly what I was looking for.
Q. How did your time in Indiana help you as a player and a person in general?
A. My time in Indiana was unforgettable; our team was made up with great players who are some of my best friends today. We ended up winning the Clark Cup, which was an unforgettable experience. Being able to grow there as a player was great, because it was a long season with a lot more games than college. The USHL is a great league for development because you’re playing amongst other future [Division 1] college players. It made the transition from junior hockey to college much easier. I developed not only on the ice but also off the ice.
Q. Is there a player in the NHL that you would say your game is similar in style to?
A. I would have to say James Neal of the Nashville Predators; he is a power forward and a pure shooter. I try to model my game after him.
Q. What is the team goal heading into the final 2-3 weeks of the schedule?
A. Every weekend is huge for us the rest of the season. We are battling to get a bye in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs so we can play on home ice.
Q. When did you start playing hockey and what hooked you on the sport?
A. I started skating when I was three years old and started playing hockey when I was four. I fell in love with the sport right away.John Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.