JP Turner has always been big on goal-setting. The 16-year old Falmouth native has big dreams, and in order to achieve them, he has kept a list of things that he needs to do in order to realize his ultimate goal of playing professional hockey.
This past week, he was able to put another checkmark on that piece of paper, which he refers to as his future mission board. Next to “Commit to a Division 1 hockey program,” there is now a designation of completion.
Turner, who attends Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut, accepted a verbal offer from the University of New Hampshire on March 15. The sophomore—who played hockey for Falmouth High School his freshman year before transferring to the private school—said that he is very excited to know that he will be a Wildcat in the future.
“I’m really excited; it’s always been a dream of mine,” Turner said.
Turner said that he learned that he had drawn interest from UNH during his freshman season as a Clipper. He scored 22 goals and had 21 assists that year while leading FHS to the second seed in the Division 1 south state tournament. That interest only grew as he held his own against much stronger, and older, competition at AOF this winter. He finished his first year in the Founder’s League with five goals and eight assists and spent most of the season on the team’s second line as the right wing. He also played on the power play for the Winged Beavers.
Turner went to UNH last year on an unofficial visit to the school and returned for another visit—and a hockey game—this winter. During his second visit, he met with the coaching staff, and during that sit down, he was offered a future scholarship.
At that moment, he was ready to say “yes,” but he did not. After discussing the situation with his parents, John and Keryn, he informed the staff at UNH that he agreed to their offer on March 15. “I didn’t want to make an emotional response,” he said.
Turner said he did find it ironic that the coach told him that he did not have to leave Falmouth in order to get noticed, and said he hopes that other athletes from town realize that if they’re good enough, they’ll get noticed. He had always planned on going to a private school eventually, because he pushes himself to compete at the highest levels. He said he is very happy that he had the experience of playing at least one year as a Clipper, though, which was a part of his aforementioned plan.
“I always wanted to play my freshman year at Falmouth. There’s nothing better than playing with your friends and going to school in your town and being on their team there. I knew I wanted to go to Avon, and when I was ready, I went there and fell in love with it, kind of similar to how I fell in love with UNH. I had Avon written on my board, and then, obviously, go on to play Division 1 hockey.”
UNH is a place where Turner said he felt at home immediately. He said that he really loves that the city of Durham and the campus of the University of New Hampshire are intertwined. He said that the familial bond of having his aunt, Colleen Coyne, be an alum also is very special. Coyne is a 1993 graduate of UNH. She played women’s hockey there and was a member of the first-ever United States Olympic women’s ice hockey team to win a gold medal, which they did in Nagano, Japan in 1998.
Turner is on schedule to graduate from Avon Old Farms in June of 2021. He said that he does not know if he will be asked to perform a postgraduate year after graduating, or if he will need to play a year or two of junior hockey before enrolling. “We’ll cross those bridges when we get to them,” he said.
In the meantime, he is focused on continuing to improve his game. Learning to deal with having less time and space in which to operate on the ice have been the biggest challenges thus far, as well as playing against players that are much older than he is. He noted that at some points during the season, he was facing off against 20-year-old postgraduate players, and he was just 15 years old when the season began. “I was looking at some of those guys, and they’ve got full beards. They had more hair on their face than I have on my head,” he said with a laugh.
Next weekend, Turner will try out for a spot in the United States Hockey Select 16 National Camp. He earned a spot on the Team Massachusetts 15-year-old squad last year, and he hopes to do it again this year. He will play junior varsity baseball at Avon Old Farms this spring, and he plans to then return home at the end of the school year to continue to train for the future.
As for the past, Turner said that he definitely missed playing with his friends in town this past season, but knows that he made the right decision to move on. Still, there were a few things that he missed. “There’s nothing like Barnstable and Gallo,” he said, referring to the Clippers’ rivalry games with the Red Raiders and tournament games in Bourne. “We had a couple of big games and some big crowds, but those are the best. I went to a couple of (tournament) games at Gallo, and it was just awesome. That atmosphere is great.”
At UNH, the atmosphere is like that for just about every home game. JP Turner will fit in great.