Maine Hockey Journal

A New Opportunity for Higgins

Troy, MI– For Stuart Higgins, he decided to turn his mistake while at the National Team Development Program into an opportunity.

“Shortly after it happened, I felt devastated,” says Higgins. “But to be perfectly honest, it didn’t take long before I decided to turn it into an opportunity. My intention is to use what happened as a motivation to improve myself, both as a player and as a human being.”

The 17-year-old 2010 Maine recruit was kicked off the National Team Development Program last season after violating team rules. He had 9 goals and 12 assists in 49 games with the Under-17 team.

The expansion Youngstown (Ohio) Phantoms of the United States Hockey League gave Higgins a place to play for the upcoming season.

“Coach (Bob) Mainhardt originally wanted to recruit me for his NAHL team last season,” Higgins says. “From there, he tendered me for the Phantoms.”

He officialy signed on in May for the upcoming season.

The thought of playing in the OHL where he was drafted in the 14th round of the 2008 draft by the Oshawa Generals did enter in Higgins mind. He can only see himself staying course with his original plan.

“It’s been tempting, but I can only see myself going the college route. I had a lot of friends from Detroit go play in the OHL. By all accounts, they’re having a great time, and the competition is great.”

With the right attitude, Higgins believes the team and himself can have a successful season.

“With that attitude intact,” Higgins said, “there’s no reason for me to doubt that my best seasons are ahead of me.”

Even though the Youngstown Phantoms are an expansion team, Higgins believes they will be successful.

“The organization, everything from the staff to the owner–basically the whole community–are one-hundred percent behind the team,” Higgins mentioned. I think they recruited some great players, and under the tutelage of Mainhardt, I think the entire team will be very successful.

He says Maine likes the way he has developed as player.

“They’ve been vocal about being pleased with my development. They love my competitiveness and my strong skating.”

If you watched the Detroit Red Wings during the playoffs, one of their young stars is Darren Helm. Higgins believes he takes after Helm.

“I’d like to play like him. (He’s) strong, fast, and tenacious. The type of player that is never scared to go into the corners or take a hit. That’s how I want to play at all times.”

Higgins gets back on the ice when the Youngtown Phantoms compete in the USHL’s annual pre-season competition, the USHL Fall Classic. Every NHL and NCAA Division I team scouts this annual event. They open up the regular season against the defending USHL Champions, the Indiana ICE on October 3rd.

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