Photo By Dan Hickling/Hickling Images
Standing six feet tall and weighing 197 pounds, Erik Foley has the look of a prototypical power forward. But Foley, a former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders forward who is heading into his sophomore season at Providence College, thinks he has been showing a lot more than power in his game as of late.
“A lot of people thought I was a power forward with not a lot of skill,” Foley said. “But I think I’m showing the skilled side of my game and I think I’m trying to show my hockey smarts a little more at these camps.”
Foley was selected to the USHL All-Rookie Team in 2014-15, his first and only full season with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. He played in 55 games that season, tallying 27 goals and 54 points. He spent last season with Providence College where he scored seven goals and 19 points. He said although it was a big jump from the USHL to college hockey, it was a great experience.
“It was fun, a little bit of a learning experience. It’s a big step. People are more mature, and you have a lot of older kids there, so they’ve been playing for a little longer, so those kids, they know the game a little better. I think it’s a little more structured, too. There’s not a lot of people running around. People stick to their systems in college hockey, so it’s a pretty big jump.”
After his solid season in Cedar Rapids, the Mansfield, MA native was selected in the 3rd round, 78th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft. In that same draft, Winnipeg also selected USHL players Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic. Foley said it was special to have that bond between the three USHL alumni.
“We all came from the same place,” said Foley. “I think we have the connection that we both came from the USHL, we came from similar backgrounds. I think it plays a part in it. I think it forms a little more of a relationship than other kids.”
Since being selected by Winnipeg, Foley has attended two of the Jets development camps. He says both camps have been a great experience, and while the first time around was good, the second time around was even better because he had been through it already.
“I think in my second time around, I felt a lot more comfortable going in and I think that I could take in a lot more, kind of be a sponge. I was trying to take in as much as I could, but in my second year around I could really bring that in, take their advice, and I can bring it into next season.”
Foley was one of the top American forwards at National Junior Evaluation Camp over the last two weeks up in Plymouth, MI. He finished camp with two goals and an assist to help the US to a 2-1-0 record in their three contests and said he really enjoyed his time at the camp.
"It’s been fun. It’s cool to come down and see all your friends from around the United States. It was really, really nice to see them and hang out with them. You’re playing with the best players in your age group and an age group below, so it’s really nice.”
As for making the final roster, Foley says playing for Team USA at the World Junior Championship would be a dream come true.
“That would be unreal. It would be an honor to play for your country. That’s everyone’s dream at the camp. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can right now, take some pointers from the coaches, take some pointers from the guys in the locker room. Just trying to have fun and play hard, stuff like that.”
Foley is trying as hard as he can to shed the notion that he is just a power forward with limited skill. He said his focus heading into next season is to make some people notice just how hard he’s been working to change people’s minds about his game.
“I think that if I have a really solid season next year, I can turn heads. We’ll just have to see. I have to play hard next season.”
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16. A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.