For someone who wasn't even supposed to play college hockey this winter, Colin Blackwell is doing remarkably well.
The freshman forward from North Andover has four goals and five assists for Harvard.
"It's been an absolute blast," said Blackwell, who last winter tallied 33 goals and 33 assists in 25 games to break the immortal Bobby Carpenter's 31-year-old St. John's Prep single-season scoring record.
"I struggled a little at first. The first 2-4 games, I got a taste of what it's all about. All the guys are bigger, faster, stronger."
On Nov. 22, Blackwell proved he belonged, leading the Crimson back from a 4-0 deficit for a stirring 7-6 win over UNH. He netted the tying and go-ahead goals.
"They were doing pretty well, ranked high," said Blackwell, who was ESPNBoston's Massachusetts Mr. Hockey last winter. "To beat a Hockey East team, down 4-0, it was a big win. It was an awesome experience. It gave me a lot of confidence."
His four goals have all been in the third period and all have been crucial for the 4-6-6 Crimson. In addition to the UNH pair, he scored to seal the win over No. 12 Colgate and tallied a highlight-film spinning beauty to tie RPI.
The original plan was for him to play a year of juniors, but the rebuilding Crimson were impressed enough in March to have him play immediately.
He hasn't disappointed.
"We're always surprised when a player comes in as an 18-year-old freshman (he turns 19 on March 28) and has the kind of success that Colin has had right off the bat," said Harvard coach Ted Donato, the former Bruin. "But we certainly had very high hopes for him. With his track record of playing his best in big games, we knew he'd be able to elevate his game to the next level."
His speed, which made him a high school phenom, is still his calling card.
"What has translated most quickly for Colin are his speed and tenacity," said Donato. "His ability to make plays at high speed has translated very well."
At 5-9, 180 pounds, Blackwell can't afford to solely rely on his speed.
"The big guys, they might take you lightly," he said. "You have to play with a chip on your shoulder."
Already Blackwell has played at "the Taj Mahal of hockey" North Dakota's Ralph Engelstad Arena, and at Fenway Park and the Beanpot beckons.
"I've been watching the Beanpot ever since I can remember," said Blackwell, who also was heavily recruited by several Hockey East schools, including Merrimack. "To be a part of that history is a dream come true."
Playing at Harvard was also a dream come true for Blackwell, who won the prestigious Moynihan Lumber North Shore Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award last year.
He said he earned an A and three B's this fall while taking economics, calculus, Spanish and expository writing.
"By the time you get out of hockey, you're run down," said Blackwell, a longtime Merrimack season-ticket holder growing up. "But you have to get right to work. You can't sit back and relax too often. I probably do 3 1/2-4 hours of homework a night average."
Donato is expecting bigger and better things from Blackwell.
"I think his future is very bright," said the coach. "His work ethic, his skill and his character lead me to believe there will be a lot of great things in his future."
Freshman forward Kirsten Morrison of North Reading leads UMass Boston in scoring (13.8 points), rebounding (9.8 a game) and blocks (1.9 a game). She also started for the Little East champion volleyball team.
Freshman Josh Goehring of Haverhill set the Bridgewater State track 500-meter record with a time of 1:07.10, which was 0.76 seconds quicker than the four-year old record. He also was a starting defender on the soccer team.
After two years on the JV team, junior swingman Erik Hatton of Atkinson not only made varsity, but he's starting at RPI. The aeronautical engineering major is averaging 3.3 points a game.
Freshman Michelle Reid of Derry is a reserve guard for the women's team.
It was quite a fall for Endicott soccer co-captain Caitie Peters of Salem. The junior was named conference defensive MVP and NEWISA Division 3 first-team All-New England. The physical education major has made Dean's List the last three terms.
Top banana at Anna
Junior swingman Javier Bristol of Haverhill is starring for Anna Maria with averages of 12.0 points and 6.2 rebounds.
Freshman Michael Gorman of Methuen is the starting point guard. The former MVC Division 2 MVP is averaging 2.8 points and 3.1 assists. Junior Jose Pena of Lawrence is a reserve forward.
Ex-Amcats star Junior de la Hoz from Lawrence is a graduate assistant coach.
To contribute information on a local college athlete, e-mail email@example.com.