As Jake Flynn’s final year at Thayer Academy was wrapping up, he didn’t plan on heading to college like nearly all of his fellow seniors at the school. He didn’t apply to any schools because nobody offered him a scholarship to play hockey at the Division I level, so Flynn accepted that fact that he would play junior hockey for the next few years to try and attract some interest.
However, one school did show up at a number of his games. Flynn spotted UConn assistant Tyler Helton at a couple games. Then, during a game at Boston University’s Agganis Arena, he spotted Huskies’ associate head coach Joe Pereira. After that game, Flynn’s coach Tony Amonte — a 17-year NHL veteran of five teams — sat him down in his office.
“Would you go to UConn if they offered?” he asked.
“Definitely, I’d love to,” replied Flynn, thinking they wanted him in a few years after juniors.
His coach informed him it would be for next year. Flynn was floored. The thought of going to college straight out of high school never even occurred to him. It was a big step, but one he was ready for.
“I talked to my coach and he said ‘With your skating, it’s not going to be a problem. It’s more just building up strength this summer and it’s going to be a big step. You’ll make mistakes but you’ll get the hang of it.’ And that’s something I’m ready for,” Flynn said.
However, entering his final game at Thayer, Flynn still didn’t hold a scholarship offer. But things were certainly trending in the right direction considering UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh made an appearance at the game. Flynn was also scheduled for a campus visit the next week.
On that visit, UConn offered Flynn. In the matter of “a few good weeks” as Flynn described it, his entire future outlook changed drastically.
Now that he’s at UConn and settling in, Flynn had some time to process everything that happened. He wouldn’t have jumped on a scholarship offer from any school but the Huskies made sense.
“The coaching staff, definitely,” Flynn said on why he liked UConn. “And I thought the campus was awesome, just how they treat you. It’s a good school — I got in the business school and that’s something I want to pursue in the long run — so that’s a big part. A good school where I know I can get the best education while playing good hockey.”
Growing up in Bridgewater, Mass. on the South Shore, Flynn wanted to be close enough to home where his family could come to games easily but not too close. At the same time, he grew up going to BU hockey games, so playing in Hockey East was attractive. UConn checked off both those boxes — and the Huskies’ rise in Hockey East hasn’t been lost on Flynn either.
“I knew that they moved to Hockey East and I see every year they’re getting better and better,” he said. “That’s something I want to be a part of: A team that’s going to get better. Hopefully in the next year or two, we’ll be at the top.”
And for a team that’s lacked offensive-minded defensemen in recent years, Flynn is here to help fix that.
“I’m more of an offensive guy, I move pucks up the ice,” he said. “Obviously a defenseman but if I can get up, jump in the play, that’s something I’ll do. But I’m good at playing defense, getting the puck and moving it right up to the forwards.”
Coming into a league that features plenty of 24 or 25-year-old players is daunting to someone who’s just a few months removed from high school. Flynn acknowledged as much. But at the same time, he knows it’s no fluke that he’s at UConn.
“I can’t let it kill my confidence,” Flynn said. “I need to keep my confidence up and I know that if I play my game, it shouldn’t affect me too much.”