Interview: Alex Jefferies Talks His Decision To Stick With Merrimack

Alex Jefferies is projected to be one of the top players in New England prep hockey this winter. After a 57-point campaign for Gunnery last season, Jefferies is seeing his stock skyrocket this season.

We recently upgraded Jefferies’ star rating to 4.5-stars here at Neutral Zone. NHL scouts watched him play midgets in the fall and will continue to watch his development at Gunnery this winter.

Jefferies committed to Merrimack in 2017, but two weeks ago he was offered a full scholarship to Boston College, according to the New England Hockey Journal. After a few weeks of speculation, Jefferies confirmed his commitment to Merrimack last week.

NZ: We obviously have to address the elephant in the room … what was the process like for you over the last couple of weeks and what ultimately made you choose to stick with Merrimack?

Jefferies: “It was tough. It’s a hard decision. It’s a decision where you’re deciding where to spend the next four years of your life, so it’s a really hard decision but I made the right one for me and I’m really excited to get it going. Now I can focus on our season (at Gunnery). (Committing) is the last thing I want to worry about during our season.”

NZ: What or who first got you into the game when you were a kid?

Jefferies: “My dad played, so growing up that was definitely a huge factor. I was following in his footsteps. I think I started around three years old and I never looked back.”

NZ: What were some of your earliest hockey memories? Where did you play as a kid?

Jefferies: “When I started, I was playing for my town. Well, I’m from a small town (Lunenberg, Mass.) so it was actually a few towns combined. My dad helped coach and I played with a lot of friends I went to school with.”

NZ: And then you hooked on with the Islanders?

Jefferies: “My first year of U16 was with the Islanders; after playing for my town I played for the Flames. They don’t have a U16 team so then I moved to the Islanders and played for Coach (Nate) Bostic.”

NZ: What was your original recruiting process like? Back when you were a U16?

Jefferies: “It was a little hectic. I never really talked to anyone, and then all of a sudden I was talking to a bunch of teams in my second year of U16.

“I really liked the campus at Merrimack and the rink. It was a good fit and the right fit for me; I knew that almost as soon as I visited.”

NZ: Since you committed, there was a coaching change. Did that ever put some doubt into your mind?

Jefferies: “At first, it did a little. But I heard great things about Coach (Scott) Borek and then meeting him, he’s awesome and I think he has the program moving in the right direction. I’m excited to be a part of it.

“Coach Borek actually recruited my dad when he was at Brown. He ended up going to Providence but Coach Borek recruited him at Brown.”

NZ: So you have been following Merrimack it sounds like?

Jefferies: “Absolutely. I have the app on my phone, so I’m checking the scores every night. Back when I was with the Islanders I would go to games every other weekend, but not at Gunnery, it’s far away so I don’t get to as many games. I did go to UConn earlier this year.”

NZ: Where do you feel like your strengths are as a player? Also, where are you looking to improve this year?

Jefferies: “I think my speed and my shot are strengths. I’m a power forward, so below the dots I need to be good. I definitely want to work on my play away from the puck and I still want to get faster. I’m always trying to get faster.”

NZ: Being on some watch lists for the NHL Draft, is that a distraction at all?

Jefferies: “It’s hard not to be distracted. You have to just try to keep it out of your mind and play the way you play. I’m not letting it bother me. It’s my last year of high school, so I want to enjoy it and have some fun.”

NZ: You also returned to Gunnery this year. Did you think you had a chance to go to the USHL or did you know you were going back to Gunnery?

Jefferies: “Back over the summer, I didn’t know if Merrimack would be taking me next year or if I would be playing a year of juniors after school. So I thought I would be playing a year of juniors anyway, and I figured I would finish high school with my friends and my teammates and then go play juniors; there was no sense of doing two years if I was going to play juniors anyway. Then, Coach Borek told me he’d like to take me next year. But even though that changed, I love it here (at Gunnery), so I wouldn’t change the decision. I love the coach, the campus and the education and my teammates. I am really excited about this season.”