CANTON — In the last 20 years, three St. Lawrence County natives have played in the National Hockey League.
Potsdam native Craig Conroy started the trend, making it to the Montreal Canadiens in 1994. He was followed by Ogdensburg native Jimmy Howard (Detroit, 2005) and Massena’s Zach Bogosian (Atlanta, 2008).
The next local to join the list very well could be Canton native Jordan Greenway, a 17-year-old, 6-foot-4 forward who will play for the U.S. Under-18 team this fall. His brother, James, a 16-year-old defenseman, also 6-foot-4, who will play for the U.S. Under-17 team, could be next.
Jordan never played high school hockey in Section 10, instead leaving for Minnesota’s Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep School where he spent three years, beginning in 2010. He stands a good chance of being a first- or second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, and could go inside the top 20 picks.
“You just look at the size of Jordan, you can’t teach that stuff,” said Potsdam native Gavin Regan, who is the vice president for international hockey for USA Hockey and in charge of the Under-18 and 17 teams. “In addition, for a player his size, he has really good skills and he has good hands and he’s a good skater, besides. Someone with his size, you don’t think of them as someone who’d be a great skater or have great hands. Unfortunately, in our sport, you think of big guys as a checker. He can shoot, skate and score, and even better he’s a great kid, and he’s so coachable.”
Jordan played for the Under-17 team last year, tallying 16 goals and 25 assists in 52 games, and he is committed to attend Boston University next season. He also was the first choice by Plymouth in the major junior Ontario Hockey League.
“I’ve been away from home for a while, and I kind of want to stay a little bit closer to home,” Jordan said. “BU has some great facilities and I think the city of Boston is great as well. I went there and, deep down, I thought it was the place for me.”
James, who played for Potsdam high school one season after his family moved near Colton, has spent the last two years at Shattuck St. Mary’s. He recorded six goals and 17 assists in 51 games last year with only 88 penalty minutes.
“It will be a good experience for (James) to go to the national development program,” Regan said. “He’s a big kid and he’s got a lot of skills. It’s kind of tough being a year behind your brother, but they are different kind of players. He can score and he’s a shut-down defenseman who can play on the power play, too. He’s not really, really flashy, but he’s a really, really good player.”
Jordan already knows the benefits his brother will get this year after having spent one year with the national development program.
“We go to school until about 1 (p.m.) and then after that you go to the rink until about 6,” Jordan said. “You just work out for about (90 minutes) and skate for about two hours. It’s pretty good. You get all the workouts and everything you need there and they give you all the opportunity to be your best. It’s been great.”
Said James, “(Jordan) went there and I’ve basically followed him everywhere, so it’s pretty awesome. I never took (hockey) too seriously until the seventh grade. He’s always been my motivation to keep going when I was younger.”
One of the differences for Jordan this year, being on the Under-18 team, is he will get to play against several collegiate teams in exhibition games.
“It’s going to be a little easier, going to college knowing kind of what the competition is going to be like, what the speed is going to be and the overall experience,” Jordan said.
After the season ends, and he finds out where he’s been drafted, Jordan will have the tough choice to make of whether to play for Boston University or jump right into professional hockey and play with Plymouth. Whatever he chooses, what he does this season will determine his value in the draft.
“It’s something that’s in my head every day,” Jordan said. “It’s pretty much my motivation to work out and skate every day and do the best I can. This is definitely going to be a big year for me. I think about it a lot and that’s the reason I work out and skate and do everything I do.”
Of the area’s NHL players, only Conroy played a good portion of his high school years in Section 10. Howard never played hockey for Ogdensburg Free Academy and Bogosian never played for Massena.
“When I left for Shattuck in the eighth grade, it was maybe a little harder than it is now,” Jordan said. “It was one of the sacrifices that you have to do to get where your goal is. That’s something I’m willing to sacrifice.’
Said James, “It’s definitely a challenge (being away), but you get used to it. I feel like you grow up quicker being away from home and halfway across the country.”
The two brothers, who are the sons of Canton native Shannon Sullivan, are also best friends.
“We do everything together,” Jordan said. “We work out and skate every day together. Going to school together and kind of playing on the same team will be a great experience. Hopefully one day we’ll be able to play with each other.”
James has not chosen a college yet, but he said if Jordan is at Boston that would make the Terriers an attractive option for him.
“I’ve basically followed him everywhere,” James said. “I know I have to kind of build my own road, but I’d love to play with him again.”