Samuli Niinisaari, Lincoln Stars (courtesy Hickling Images)
Lincoln Stars defenseman Samuli Niinisaari has announced his decision to attend Brown University next year.
"I feel like the combination of the world-class education, and the big opportunity to play great hockey, those are probably the number one things," said Niinisaari. "I really liked the coaching staff and the other players there too. Everything in total, it was everything I was looking for."
Niinisaari joins Stars teammate Wyatt Schlaht as a fellow Brown commitment. Schlaht's input helped Niinisaari in his process of selecting a school.
"We talked about it a little bit," said Niinisaari. "Of course I asked him what he likes about it and I was able to see some of the same things there that I liked about it. It helped me a little bit."
The Finnish defenseman has spent his last season of junior hockey with the Stars, registering three goals and 12 points in 35 games.
"I like to play responsibly," he said. "So first, take care of the defense as a defenseman of course, but also the puck play: I like to create offense as a defenseman too. I like to join rushes. That's also something I want to improve in the future, but I like to help the team all-around."
With 27 games left in the 2018-19 season, Niinisaari's focus is on further developing the skill set he's honed playing in Finland, Canada, and the United States.
"I haven't really set any specific goals," said Niinisaari. "I'm going to do that for sure, but for now, I'm just improving in general as a player and as a person too. I think it's going to be a big opportunity here going forward with so many games left. I'm still getting more comfortable with the style of play here so I can be ready to go to college and be ready to give everything I have right away when I take that next step."
Playing in the USHL has been an experience that has helped Niinisaari prepare himself for that next step.
"It has made me be able to play faster," he said. "The guys skate faster on you all the time. So it's just making decisions faster, playing faster with the puck and without the puck, being ready to give everything all the time."
The Stars blueliner is mindful of those who've helped him reach this point in his career.
I want to thank my family, my mom and dad-they've been a huge support all the way. My brother and my sister, they've always helped me with anything I need help with. My friends, they've always been there, supporting me and pushing me forward. My teammates, the ones back home and the ones here. They've helped me a lot to grow. All the coaches that I've had have given me something and have made a big difference for me and have given me the chance to be the player that I am today."
"Samuli is a fantastic young man that takes pride and commits himself to excellence off the ice," said Stars head coach Cody Chupp. "He is a great teammate and a high-impact player. Brown is a terrific spot for him to further his goals of becoming a doctor as well as playing professional hockey."
Tag(s): Player News