In 2015, the United States Premier Hockey League was still a rising force in the Youth, Midget and Junior hockey worlds, just about to enter its fourth season of operation. For Montclair, N.J., native Oscar Worob, he was excited to embark on what turned out to eventually be a six-year USPHL career that saw him come away with championships in fully 66 percent of his career, all with the Jersey Hitmen.
Worob won USPHL championships at the former 16U Futures (now USPHL 15U) level, the USPHL 18U level and he’s also won the last two Dineen Cup Championships with the Hitmen’s NCDC squad. He’ll now take his skills into NCAA hockey with Skidmore College.
He took the time to answer some questions recently about his fantastic run, all based in the Ice Vault in Wayne, N.J.
What do you think overall of the Jersey Hitmen organization and everything they offer?
I think the Hitmen is an awesome place to play both youth and junior hockey. There are a lot of great resources for the players to take advantage of: Skills coach Justin Stanlick, Skating coach Angelo Serse, Goalie coach Jochen Reimer, and last but not least, the best Strength Coach, Gerry Defilippo. Along with playing in one of the nicest rinks in the USPHL, the Hitmen provides a year-long program that focuses on development and a winning culture.
What are your thoughts on the USPHL and the several levels of play offered, from Youth to Midget to Junior?
The USPHL has been my home for close to 7 years now and I have played at basically every level in the league. There is something special about being able to go from 14U all the way to juniors playing for the same organization in the same league. You obviously grow relationships with teammates and coaches in your organization, but you also start recognizing the players you are battling against. I think playing in a competitive league and having a goal of winning a championship is important for any team. The USPHL has always put together a great championship weekend, making the year feel meaningful.
How did you (and/or your parents) first hear about the Jersey Hitmen?
Being in our own backyard, I had played countless times at the Ice Vault before joining the Jersey Hitmen (In fact, I played a season of mites as a New Jersey Bandit). The Hitmen was always a program we had heard about having a stronger Midget and Junior program in our area. So, when deciding where I wanted to play my second 14U year, we wanted to choose an organization I could have a future with and could grow with. I have always valued the connections I have made with coaches and finding an organization I could return to year after year and truly cultivate these relationships was important to me.
What did you think about your season on the former 16U Futures (now USPHL 15U) Hitmen team, and winning the 2016-17 Futures Championship?
I think that my 16U futures year was huge for my development. I wasn't physically ready to make the jump to 16U after my 14U season and the 16U Futures team gave me a great place to play against kids my same maturity.
You moved from 16U Futures to 16U to 18U over three years. Can you describe your development during those Midget years and the player you were when you arrived compared to the player you were moving on to NCDC?
My development changed dramatically over my three seasons from 16U futures to 18U. For starters a had a major growth spurt growing about 6 inches in a year. So my first year at 18U, I feel like I was just getting used to my size, while the second year I took more advantage of my size and speed.
What are your favorite memories of the 18U Championship season with Coach Anthony Yelovich?
Playing for the same organization for many years, you grow very close to the core group of guys on the team. This was our fifth year playing together and was so much fun to end the season on top. Coach Anthony Yelovich is one of my favorite coaches and people to this day. He is the kind of coach you want to play for and win with.
What did you think about joining the NCDC team as the next step from 18U? Had Coach Toby Harris been talking to you prior to joining the NCDC team?
Since joining the organization as a 14-year-old, one of my goals was to play on the top junior program for the Hitmen. I was excited when that became a real possibility for me. I had skated in a few main camps with the Hitmen over my 16U and 18U years and was familiar with Coach Harris. Coach Harris and Coach Hunt have been doing this for a long time, and their experience gave me a lot of confidence in the Hitmen Organization.
What were your thoughts on your development while with the NCDC team for two seasons?
Any time you move up a level, it is a challenge to adjust, but given the strength of the organization it forced me to improve my game. Battling for spots in the lineup every week with very talented players is a recipe for development.
Coming off a championship 18U Season, my first year at the NCDC level was a struggle. I was working hard but not achieving the goals I thought I was capable of. Even into the first half of my second season I was still working hard without the results I was looking for. The second half of the season, I felt something click. Not only was I now captain of the team, I was now producing on the offensive side as well.
What did you think about winning the Dineen Cup not once but twice?
Juniors at times can be a grind, and it's a great feeling to be rewarded for your year long efforts. Those were two very different teams and it was a pleasure to share a winning experience with both locker rooms.
What are your thoughts on committing to Skidmore College?
Playing college hockey has been a goal of mine for nearly a decade, and I am thrilled with the opportunity afforded to me by playing for Skidmore College. I could not be happier with the end result of my junior career.