BOSTON, MA -- With the conclusion of last week's Mid-Winter Meetings for USA Hockey, the Eastern Hockey League Premier (EHLP) is pleased to officially welcome in the Union Thunder for the upcoming 2022-23 season.
While attention to detail in their on-ice programming and off-ice training have played a crucial role in the growth of Union Thunder over the past 11 seasons, it has been their primary focus to develop a strong and inclusive culture around the local youth hockey community. The Thunder have stressed the importance of character building, leadership development, and a commitment to academic success at all age brackets.
Now, the Thunder look forward to providing an environment for their new junior hockey players that gives them the resources necessary to grow as players, leaders, and teammates, but also the access to college counselors and academic advisors that can aid them in becoming exceptionally well rounded student-athletes.
"This team will open up a door for local hockey players who are looking for a quality Tier-3 junior experience while also having an impact on their community through active service and integration with our youth programs and townships," said Matt Anderson, the Hockey Director for the Thunder program, plus a longtime coach who will act as the Owner and General Manager of the junior program. Matt is the son of Ken Anderson, the family at the helm of the operation in West Union, NJ.
As for the team's Head Coach, that will be Sam Tafel, a leader who has also been with the Thunder program for a number of years.
“Our biggest priority is to serve local players who want to play at the junior level and have an opportunity to advance up USA Hockey’s Ladder of Development while not having to leave the state, their community, and their families,” added Anderson. “Our community based approach has built a sizable youth hockey program that continues to grow in numbers each season and now we can look forward to offering this same experience for junior-aged players in the area. Our continued efforts to grow the game of hockey here in Union County have built a new market that is hungry and excited to see some of its own join the ranks of Junior Hockey. This new team will be an opportunity for our Staff to build on that excitement and create another opportunity within the sport for our young athletes to grow into the type of high character leaders and teammates who will continue to grow our sport in the right direction for years to come."
When asked about Tafel, Anderson had this to say about the team's bench boss.
“I am very excited to have someone of Sam’s caliber in the hockey world join us as we build a top-notch staff," added Anderson. "His coaching and recruiting pedigree at the private school level as well as within junior hockey is one that shows the proven dedication and attention to detail that will allow us to recruit the type of high character athletes that we are looking for - Players who can help us to build on our tradition of a positive growth-oriented and community-based culture and make it a lasting and important piece of the Junior Hockey world."
Please join us as we welcome in the Union Thunder, the 13th member of the EHLP.
Matt Anderson -- Owner and General Manager of the Union Thunder
Samuel Tafel -- Head Coach of the Union Thunder