Santa Rosa native Sechrist uses USPHL development to gain commitment to NCAA D-III Salem State
From Chase Sechrist’s home in Santa Rosa, it’s about a 40-minute drive to put your toe in the Pacific Ocean.
It may be a brisk walk for him this fall to put the same toe in the Atlantic Ocean.
Sechrist, a two-year leading light for the Lake Tahoe Lakers before a late-season trade to the Charlotte Rush this past season, has committed to Salem State University. Salem State is based in one of Massachusetts’ most historic coastal towns, one forever linked to the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692. That history, however, tends to blot out Salem’s later status as an international shipping port known the world over.
“I talked with a couple of my buddies that already go there, and I got in touch with the coaches,” said Sechrist, a former Tahoe Prep Academy standout before joining the Lakers in 2021. “They liked my offensive defenseman play style.”
Sechrist racked up 62 points in 72 games over his two seasons at Lake Tahoe and brings that game to Salem. With the Vikings, he will rejoin former Tahoe Prep teammates Zach Dill and Erik Larsson.
Dill was a standout with the Rush when they won the national championship in 2021, and he scored 30 points in 27 games for the Vikings as a freshman in 2022-23. Larsson, a native of Sweden, was the MASCAC Rookie Of The Year in 2021-22 and has averaged 1.2 points per game through two NCAA seasons at Salem.
Sechrist cited “playing hockey with old teammates and living on the East Coast, and they have the majors that I want” as major draws to joining Salem State, where he’ll enroll in their Business program. He has not visited Salem just yet, but is certainly excited to join a whole new family. He had nothing but good things to say about both the Lakers and the Rush as he leaves behind his junior career.
“I think they are both great organizations with top-level staff on both teams, and they most definitely helped me become the player I am today. I consider both family now,” said Sechrist.
Sechrist helped get the Lakers off the ground when they were an expansion franchise in the Pacific Division (itself only a year old at the time) during the 2021-22 season.
“I think it’s a great place to play junior hockey. Being able to practice every day and work out at a high altitude helps a ton with your stamina, which helped my overall game a lot,” said Sechrist. “It’s just a great hockey environment to be in if you want to get better.”
He was acquired from Lake Tahoe along with one of the Lakers’ top forwards Ari Rossi, in order to bolster Charlotte’s already frightening depth and to give both players a chance at a national title. The Rush made the final and played it tight for most of the game against the Northern Cyclones, but the Hudson, N.H.-based ‘Clones came out as title-winners in the end.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to finish off my junior career with a national run with one of the best teams I’ve been a part of. Great group of guys – I definitely made some friends for life,” he said. “I also want to thank all the coaches over there, including Trevor Jewell, who let me and Ari stay at his home for the three months we were there.”
With the Lakers, Sechrist got to play several different teams from around the country, including at the 2022 USPHL Winter Showcase in his future college home state of Massachusetts as well as at this past December’s inaugural USPHL Las Vegas Showcase.
“The USPHL is great at showcasing the players. It’s very nice finishing your junior career and having options for schools afterwards,” said Sechrist.
Back in Santa Rosa, there won’t be a whole lot of time for Pacific toe-dipping at Bodega Bay or Point Reyes, as Sechrist wants to be fully ready as a go-to blueliner right off the bat for Salem State.
“I’m going to hit the gym and work on my physical play to make the biggest impact I can in NCAA hockey,” he said.
— Joshua Boyd/USPHLPremier.com
(May 25, 2023)