HAVERHILL — One week ago, Haverhill’s Jordan Harris took the ice in the uniform of one of the National Hockey League’s most storied franchises.
Later this month, he will skate in a Team USA sweater.
Coming off a breakout freshman season for Northeastern University — and a week as a standout at the Montreal Canadiens’ development camp — Harris is preparing to play in Team USA Hockey’s World Junior Summer Showcase.
“It means so much to be selected,” said Harris. “I’m so excited. It’s a great opportunity to play against some of the best competition in the country. And whenever you have the chance to try out for Team USA, it’s very special.”
The Showcase — previously known as USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp — is a key part of the selection process for the US National Junior Team that will play in the 2020 World Junior Championship.
Harris, one of 16 defensemen selected, will play for one of two Team USA squads, which will take on teams from Sweden, Canada and Finland.
The tourney runs from July 27 to Aug. 3 at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich.
“I’ve never been selected for a USA team before, so it’s a real thrill to have this chance,” said Harris. “I had a feeling I could be selected for the showcase. Last year, when they were doing evaluations, they saw some of my games and liked the way I played. But nothing was for sure until I got the invite three weeks ago.”
The chance to play for a spot on Team USA is the latest achievement in Harris’ blossoming hockey career.
It was just over a year ago, on June 22, 2018, that Harris was selected in the third round of the NHL Draft, pick No. 71 overall, by the Canadiens. That came after a stellar senior season for Prep power Kimball Union (six goals, 29 assists) and a five-game stop in the USHL.
“It’s an honor to be part of a world-class organization like Montreal,” said Harris. “It’s still a thrill. They’re like the New York Yankees of hockey. There’s so much history, and to be part of that, and have the chance to one day possibly play for the team, is a special feeling.”
Last week, from June 26-28, Harris was in Montreal, participating in the team’s development camp.
Harris said he felt considerably more confident this season than he did a year ago, when he went to his first development camp just days after the draft.
“I felt a lot more comfortable,” he said. “Last year, I was coming right out of prep school and it was a whirlwind going against first round picks and AHL guys.
“This year, I knew the faces and the procedure. That calmed my nerves. Having a year of college helped a lot. Playing the scrimmages in front of the fans was really exciting.”
Harris’ play caught the eye of observers.
“For a second straight year (defenseman) Jordan Harris looked very good at Habs development camp. Smooth skater and good at moving the puck,” wrote Montreal Gazette columnist Stu Cowan.
Over the winter, Harris established himself as a standout on defense as a freshman for Northeastern University.
In 39 games, Harris scored a goal and notched 12 assists while playing on the Huskies’ top defensive line.
With Harris patrolling the blue line, Northeastern finished 27-11-1 and won both the Hockey East championship — 3-2 over Boston College — and the Beanpot title — 4-2 over BC.
“It was a great season,” said Harris. “I think I understand the game a lot more after a year of college hockey. In the first few games, I realized that, yeah, the guys were older and bigger and faster. But it was still the game I’ve played my whole life.
“To win the Hockey East and the Beanpot was really special. Being a Massachusetts kid, I grew up watching the games. People still come over to me and congratulate me about the Beanpot. It was so big to win it.”
Harris now hopes to impress at the Team USA showcase as he prepares for his sophomore season at Northeastern.
“I want to go out and show that I belong at that (Team USA) level,” he said. “I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I have nothing to lose. I’m going to leave it all out there, learn from some great coaches and try to have some fun.”
A lifelong Haverhill resident and Boston Bruins fan, it hasn’t been easy for Jordan Harris to adjust to life as a prospect for the B’s archrival, the Montreal Canadiens.
The latest hockey star in the Harris family — his dad Peter played goalie for UMass Lowell and his brother Elijah was a star for Austin Prep and now plays for Endicott College — Jordan said he has taken some grief from friends that are Bruins fans.
““It’s pretty different being on the other side,” he said with a laugh. “The Bruins were always my team. I’ve gotten a good amount of jokes about changing sides. I love being a part of the Canadiens.”
Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.