In our Campus Conversations, we sit down one-on-one with some of our alumni playing Division-I NCAA hockey. They offer candid comments and insight into the world of hockey after high school, including life in juniors and the process of getting to the next level. Check out their first-hand accounts of triumphs and successes as well as struggles and failures along their journey to playing college hockey.
This week, we feature Rochester United alum and current Air Force Academy forward, Marshall Bowery.
A member of the 2015 class, Bowery played four seasons of varsity hockey for RU, scoring 79 goals and 159 points during his high school career. He was named to the 2015 Dream Team as a senior and led RU in goals (42), assists (38) and points (80) that season.
After graduation, Bowery went to the NAHL where he spent two seasons with Topeka. He played 110 games of junior hockey including a playoff run in 2016 in which the Roadrunners were eliminated in the second round.
Bowery played the majority of his high school career with fellow RU standout and lifelong friend Max Harper, and the duo dominated over the Oakland Activities Association for some time, winning three straight Red Division championships. Together, they went to Topeka and continued the tandem in junior hockey. So it was only fitting that when it came time to making a college commitment, both Bowery and Harper settled on the Air Force Academy, extending their friendship into collegiate hockey.
We separated the two for a moment -- Harper will be featured in next week’s Campus Convo -- to compare and contrast how their journeys may be similar on paper but drastically different in their successes and struggles.
This Week’s Campus Convo with Marshall Bowery:
Hub: You’ve never played a day of Triple-A hockey, how did you settle on your path and what steered you towards high school hockey?
MB: “The main factor was that my older brother was a senior when I was going into my freshman year. My parents thought that it’d be cool to see us play on the same team together. So they kinda pushed me onto the high school path and said, ‘try out for a year. Then if you don’t like that, then you can go the triple-A route.’ After my freshman year, I just enjoyed it. I felt that I was still advancing my hockey skills. So I just kept with the high school route.”
Hub: You said you could see your skills advancing...How? What or who, do you attribute that development to?
MB: “One thing that helped me out was that Rochester United had a great coach, Craig Staskowski. He saw the ice perfectly and he helped me out with my game tremendously within areas that I needed improvement, so I attribute a ton of that to him.”
Hub: What was the toughest part for you when making the jump from high school to juniors?
MB: “The toughest part was just the speed of the game. In Michigan high school hockey, there’s some good players and then there’s a big gap between good players and bad players on each team. At the junior level, everybody has that same skill, high-end hockey players in the NAHL South Division. So I’d just say catching up to the speed of the game at that level was the biggest difference.”
Hub: What advice would you give to kids that are going through it now and how to combat making that jump to junior hockey?
MB: “Just each day, going in with a positive mindset. Understand that, ‘hey, I’m here to get better and this is what I’m committed to doing.’ Just that mindset changes your entire perspective on the day instead of just grinding out the day thinking ‘I’m gonna get better each day.’ I think that is a huge thing that everybody needs to understand because the junior hockey season is long.”
Hub: What was the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in your career and how did you overcome it?
MB: “The biggest challenge that I had was going from being a star in high school hockey and then when I went to juniors, just not getting playing time or maybe being a healthy scratch. Working my way into the lineup consistently, that was the most frustrating thing and the biggest challenge for me.”
Hub: Did you do a lot of junior camps?
MB: “I did one other camp and that was Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. That was a USHL one. That was my first camp and I went there not even trying to make the team but just gage the hockey level and the speed of everything. I didn’t make that team, so I went to the Topeka camp since I tendered with them.”
Hub: Is there one person you can point to and say, ‘I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for…’?
MB: “If it wasn’t for my older brother, I wouldn’t be here.”
Hub: You and Max (Harper) played together throughout high school, played together in juniors and now you’re playing together in college… Are you two sick of each other yet?
MB: “I’ve known him since preschool. We’ve been best friends since preschool. No, we do not get sick of each other, I look forward to seeing him for the next four years every single day and hope to stay in touch with him after that. He’s almost closer than my brothers to me, which is pretty weird to say. He’s definitely part of the family.”
Hub: As close as a brother… Describe your relationship then, what is the dynamic like?
MB: “Our families are very close just from playing on the same hockey teams, we’d always go out to eat together. If one of the parents couldn’t go on a hockey trip, then we would share a hotel room. We’ve been very close ever since a young age. Our families are very good friends, they text every single day, they talk every single day. They hang out.”