Jr. Gulls grad, Capistrano Beach native Plotnik decides on NCAA D-I American International
Confidence has always been a major component of Evan Plotnik’s mental makeup as a hockey player.
That, combined with a solid skill set and attention to detail, has landed the Capistrano Beach native a commitment with NCAA Division I American International College (Atlantic Hockey), a school located in Springfield, Mass.
Plotnik is among the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s (SJHL) top goaltenders this season with the Melfort Mustangs.
“I had a very hot start this year and from there, I had been communicating with a few D-I teams, and AIC worked themselves into the mix,” Plotnik said. “I was most excited about what the coaches said and had to offer, so I went with them.
“Next season, I hope to help the team out as much as I can. I think it’s going to be a big adjustment from playing Xbox all day to getting into the classroom and studying.”
Plotnik has his eyes on a Business Management or Marketing major.
After playing for the San Diego Jr. Gulls’ 18U AAA team in 2014-15, Plotnik found his way to the SJHL for the 2015-16 campaign.
“I ended up in the SJHL after I got cut from the BCHL,” explained Plotnik. “My coach (in Melfort) Trevor Blevins called me up after that and said that if I wanted to come out, the spot was mine. I believe the league is very underrated and there is a lot of great talent that goes undiscovered.
“Melfort has offered me the best three years of my life. I really can’t describe how many opportunities it’s led me, and how many experiences I never would have gotten playing somewhere else. It’s an awesome, tight-knit community and I love how great the community support is here. I’ll never be able to express how much Melfort means to me in words and I wish I could give back to the community as much as they’ve given to me.”
And in looking at his future, Plotnik always had an inkling that college hockey could be a reality.
“If I’m being completely honest, I have always been pretty confident in my ability to play at a higher level,” said Plotnik. “The thing that I believe made it tough for my mental aspect, I was always wondering why I wasn’t getting committed as young as some other guys out there. The best advice for anyone going through this I received from a coach of the Colorado Rampage, Riese Niehaus. He told me to ‘just play.’ And I have found that is the best advice anyone could’ve ever given me. Just go out and have fun because if you’re good enough, you really will be found.”
When he reflects on his hockey past, Plotnik smiles.
“I sort of shuffled team to team growing up, but so many of my coaches served as role models,” said Plotnik. “I believe the older I got, the more the coaching meant to me, especially as it got me prepared for junior hockey. The big names that really got my head in the right spot and helped my mental approach were Mike Perkins at JSerra, as well as Phil Bateman and Clark Oliver with the Jr. Gulls.
“It’s funny, but I transferred schools in between kindergarten and first grade and one of my friends at my new school got me into hockey, and he quit about a month later. I first started playing house hockey at the Aliso Viejo Ice Palace and the minor hockey program there was phenomenal. I loved being around the rink, especially with the great people that were there.”
Photo/Ryan Booth Photography/Melfort Mustangs
— Matt Mackinder
(Feb. 27, 2018)