For the month of June, we look back on Cal Mell, an '01 birth year defenseman from Cumming, GA. The 5’11" defenseman spent two full seasons in the EHL, each with the Express Hockey Club, which helped to develop him into an NCAA Division 1 player for Union College. Prior to his time in the EHL, Mell grew up playing for the Atlanta Fire, mostly at the AA level, gradually and consistently improving his game each and every year.
As stated earlier, Mell developed for two seasons in the EHL and credits his upward trajectory to his time in the league.
“It was a huge help," said Mell. "I was introduced to junior hockey by this league. I played 2 years in Walpole, one under Coach [Jon] Lounsbury and the other with Coach [Cody] Campbell. Both of them played a huge role in my development, both on and off the ice.”
Maturity and development are critical aspects to a young player's growth in the game, and Mell experienced this first hand in Walpole.
“I was 17 when I moved up there, so I was pretty young, but the older guys on the team showed me the ropes," added Mell.
Following his time in the EHL, Mell spent two seasons in the North American Hockey League (NAHL), increasing his point production each year, similar to what he did during his time in the EHL.
“There is a good bit of skill and players with potential to move on to higher levels (in the EHL). I also got to play good minutes as well where I was. I got more time my second year (in Walpole) as you’d expect, but I think that the biggest help to my development was the amount of playing time I got.” said Mell.
In 2021-22 Mell made the commitment to attend NCAA Division 1 Union College in Schenectady, NY.
“My recruitment was pretty quiet, I would get a call or a text every once in awhile from a school," added Mell. "It stayed like that most of the time until I was invited to the Top Prospects Showcase (NAHL) In Pittsburgh. I probably played 2 of the better games in my junior career during the showcase so I think that helped a good bit. I talked to Union at the showcase and then we had a few calls over the next week. Within 2-3 weeks after the showcase they asked me if I’d like to commit, and it’s great academic resume plus the hockey history it has made it a no doubter.”
Mell’s freshman season in 2022-23 would further demonstrate his preparedness for the NCAA level. Not only did he finish in the top-five on the team in scoring, he led all Union defensemen with 15 points in 34 games, while playing a gritty, competitive well-rounded game.
Looking back on his time in Junior Hockey and now after a successful NCAA freshman season, Mell had this to say to prospective student-athletes.
“Obviously everyone knows to work hard and put in extra hours but the 2 things I took away from the EHL are to enjoy it and make it fun," concluded Mell. "The memories and friends I have from my time in the EHL are some of the best I have, and then the other thing is to not try to move on too quick. Find a team where you will play good minutes and can be a difference maker.”
The EHL takes great pride in players such as Cal Mell for helping them reach their goals and fulfilling our league motto -- With every player comes a different path and next step. Whether it's college hockey or climbing the junior ranks, the EHL and the EHLP provide all of our players with the resources to improve their game and keep climbing in their respective journeys.
Every story is different, and we're ready to help you write the next chapter in yours.
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