Jr. Ducks grad, Newport Beach native Niedermayer commits to NCAA D-I Arizona State
Jackson Niedermayer called playing college hockey a long-time goal.
The forward from Newport Beach also figured out something else early on – he loved scoring goals.
This in spite of growing up in the same house as a Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman, his father Scott.
“Forward always appealed to me more than defense,” he said. “That’s why I worked on shooting so much, doing the little things no one sees, whether it was shooting pucks in the backyard or going to clinics.
“I credit Craig (Johnson) and my dad for my development. I tried to apply all of these things they taught me and continue to teach me.”
So one month to the day before the Anaheim Ducks were scheduled to retire Scott’s jersey (Feb. 17), Jackson, a longtime Anaheim Jr. Duck, committed to play college hockey at NCAA Division I Arizona State University.
Jackson, who is playing for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League, is the 21st player with ties to the Jr. Ducks to make an NCAA Division I commitment in the past five seasons, and he becomes the eighth player from the 2001 birth year team – coached by his father and Johnson – to commit.
“It’s really exciting, and I’m glad everything worked out,” Niedermayer said. “We had a lot of guys on our (16U AAA) team getting college offers in the past year, which was great to see. Arizona State was the first team that showed interest in my potential, and they kept in touch.”
His father let Jackson forge his own path on the ice, right down to his college decision.
“We were preaching patience,” Scott said. “We talked about colleges, and he put a lot of thought into this. At the end of the day, he’s old enough and we support him and his decision 100 percent.”
Jackson helped the Jr. Ducks’ 16U AAA team win a bronze medal at the USA Hockey Youth Nationals last April. If he wasn’t on college coaches’ radar before the 2017-18 season, he made sure they knew who he was during it. He racked up 73 points between the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League, CAHA and Nationals.
“Last year was a big year for the team and for me,” Jackson said. “I’ve pretty much grown up with Ryan (Johnson) my whole life. We had ‘JP’ (Jonathan Panisa) come back and contribute.
“We all were going after the same goal – to play college hockey and eventually play somewhere in the pros. A big part of our success last season was we were super close on and off the ice.”
Jackson led CAHA in scoring with 26 points and 20 goals in 13 games. He finished tied for sixth in the prestigious Tier 1 league with 42 points, including 23 goals, in 34 games. For good measure, he added seven points in five games at Nationals.
“He has always had that knack to score goals, and he loved to score goals,” said Johnson, who also serves as the Jr. Ducks director of coaches. “Some guys just have that knack, and Jackson is one of them.
“He’s worked hard on his conditioning and the physical side to his game, and he’s always skated well. But the big thing is he’s a great kid who loves the game, and he’s a great teammate. His teammates loved playing with him.”
“I’m very proud of him and the Jr. Ducks are very proud of him for what he’s accomplished and for his commitment to Arizona State. Jackson just kept working toward his goals and his future in the game is very bright.”
Part of the appeal of the Sun Devils program is not only are they the newest Division I program, but in their fourth season they’re an ascendant one. Ranked by USCHO.com since mid-November for the first time in program history, Arizona State finished the regular season with 21 wins after never having won more than 10 times in a season.
Being a building block for a program, and its proximity to the West Coast also were factors in Jackson’s decision as well.
“They’re building something special,” Jackson said. “I’m looking forward to getting there (in 2021) and making a mark. With all the success they’ve had and how they compete against good teams, that’s something I wanted to be a part of.”
— Chris Bayee
(March 7, 2019)