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Trio of California natives decide on NCAA commitments



Luc Salem, Landon Pavlisin and Grady Birk all left California to play junior hockey with the long-term goal to play college hockey.

All three announced their NCAA commitments recently, with Salem going the Division I route at St. Lawrence University and Pavlisin (Norwich University) and Birk (Anna Maria College) off to play Division III hockey.


Salem (pictured) played three years of junior hockey with the NAHL’s Topeka Pilots and Maryland Black Bears, AJHL’s Brooks Bandits and BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings and Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The Santa Monica native ended the 2019-20 season with 36 points (nine goals, 27 assists) in 52 games with Topeka.

He was named the NAHL’s Defenseman of the Month in December after recording nine points in eight games on three goals and six assists as Topeka went 6-1-1.

“I am proud to announce my commitment to play Division I college hockey and further my education at St. Lawrence University,” Salem tweeted. “I want to thank all my former coaches, teammates, billets, and most importantly, my family for their support.”

During his youth hockey days, Salem played for the California Titans, Los Angeles Jr. Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Diego Jr. Gulls.

“Luc is an intelligent young man and hockey player,” said Pilots coach Simon Watson. “We are ecstatic for him to commit to St. Lawrence University. He will be a nice addition to their program. Luc was a steady point producer for us all season long. His mobility and poise with the puck contributed to our success offensively. He was counted on in all situations and his confidence soared and he enjoyed a breakthrough season.”

Pavlisin wrapped his junior career with the Kenai River Brown Bears as the Orange native ended up facing the most shots of any NAHL netminder this past season, facing 1,373 shots in 41 games. He also tied for the league lead in games played with 41 and was second in minutes played with 2,342. Pavlisin was third in the league in wins with 23 to go along with a 3.13 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.

“We are extremely excited to Landon and his commitment to Norwich University,” said Kenai River head coach Kevin Murdock. “He was a big addition for us this season and was a workhorse on the backend. We look forward to following his career as he moves into the next level.”

Pavlisin played for JSerra High School and the Jr. Ducks during his youth career.

Prior to his year with Kenai River, Pavlisin played for the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, SIJHL’s Dryden Ice Dogs and AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks.

Birk, a San Diego native and Jr. Gulls alum, will join Anna Maria in the fall after playing 2019-20 with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires and La Ronge Ice Wolves and collecting two goals and 11 points over 37 games.

“When it had come to schools, I had always emailed colleges showing my interest and passion to play,” Birk said. “I think the opportunity had just come at the right time and moment and I had felt comfortable enough to pull the trigger on my school. In terms of schooling and hockey with the situation that has presented itself, I’m very excited to not only have the opportunity for a great education, but the opportunity to play the sport I love as well.

“Although junior hockey is a great ride, the mixture of school within the hockey scene appeals to me the most as you’re either in the classroom or on the ice every day. To add to this, my major of choice, sports management, allows me to keep in the realm of sports in the classroom so no matter how far away from the rink I am, I’m still in the same realm of sports.”


— Matt Mackinder

(July 15, 2020)

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