The decision to commit to the University of Connecticut for the 2021-22 academic year turned out to be far easier for The Governors Academy star senior defenseman Jack Pascucci than anticipated.
“It was a very easy decision for me. The UConn coaches made me feel very comfortable and welcome from the start and I knew I wanted to play there right away. When I visited campus I loved it and I felt very wanted by the coaching staff. My decision was made before I left campus,” Pascucci said.
Perhaps there was a bit of karma at play as Pascucci and UConn’s seventh-year head coach Mike Cavanaugh – a long-time assistant under Jerry York at Boston College – both hail from North Andover, MA. Cavanaugh was a key member of a series of powerhouse Scarlet Knights’ teams in the mid-1980s that included the likes of Rob Cheevers and brothers Steve, Andy and Peter Heinze.
By committing early, Pascucci, a returning member of the Team New England lineup, can focus fully on his final campaign with the Governors, who compete in the rugged Keller Division of the Independent School League.
“I definitely feel very fortunate that I committed before the [Covid-19] virus happened. It must be very stressful for a lot of kids who are relying on their season next year when it might be shortened or cancelled. I am very excited for the season and I believe we will be very successful,” he said.
“Our goal is definitely to make the playoffs and go from there. We haven’t made the playoffs in a long time and I think we have a very good chance this year. Coach Brian McGuirk has done a great job the past two years turning the program around and I know we have a lot of potential this year,” Pascucci added.
At six feet, two inches and 185 pounds, Pascucci is a commanding presence on the ice with a physical style, shot and overall hockey sense that catch your eye. He had five goals and 20 points for Governor’s last season and was a Top Defenseman selection at HNIB’s 2019 Summer Showcase.
“I also think my defensive game got me a lot of college attention. I have worked very hard on my shot growing up and not too many kids play physical anymore. I describe myself as a physical two-way defenseman who takes care of his own zone first, but will also jump up in the play,” he said. He has spent the offseason working on increasing his strength, quickness and speed as well as his hands in order to “have better control of the puck all over the ice.”
As a Washington Capitals’ fan in Bruins’ Nation, Pascucci pays close attention to Evgeny Kuznetsov.
“His skating, hands and vision are extremely good and I think he is one of the most underrated players in the NHL,” Pascucci said.
His favorite memory as a player dates back to his freshman season at St. John’s Prep “when we went to the Super 8 [Division 1A Tournament]. It was my first time playing in front of a lot of people and it was really exciting.”
His dad Ron Pascucci Jr. — a former Boston College captain and Washington Capitals’ draft pick — has supported his hockey journey every step of the way.
“My dad has definitely been my biggest influence. He helps me so much and I would not be here without him. He played hockey at a very high level so it helps me a lot to have him helping me after each game. I also learn a lot from him outside of hockey and he has definitely made me a better person,” Pascucci said.
He is looking forward to another enjoyable Summer Showcase experience.
“This tournament has always been very fun for me. I grew up playing with most of these guys my whole life and this will probably be the last time I skate with some of my best friends so I am really looking forward to it. I also think that our team will be very good and I think we have a good shot at winning this year,” he said.
Pascucci holds a 3.4 GPA at Governors and hopes to major in Sports Management at UConn with an eye toward becoming a General Manager, scout or coach some day.