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Doef Receives Princeton Scholarship, plays at Central Canada Cup Challenge

Neil Doef, Smiths Falls, Smiths Falls Bears

by Amy Hogue

How does one handle becoming a minor athletic celebrity in a small town while still remaining firmly grounded and completely unassuming? One would have to look to Smiths Falls Bears’ forward, Neil Doef, to find the answer to this question.

The seventeen-year-old Smiths Falls native has become something of a local celebrity and with good reason. Doef’s list of accomplishments seem to be growing longer by the day. Among the most recent include being named on the Central Scouting Preliminary 2014 Players to Watch list; being selected, along with three of his teammates, Jared Henry, Chris MacMillan and Cole Skinner, to play in the Central Canada Cup Challenge mid-November; and receiving a scholarship offer to the prestigious Princeton University.

Weighing in at 183 pounds at 5’10”, Doef has been playing hockey since second year Novice, where he played for the Smiths Falls Minor Hockey Association (SFMHA). He went on to spend one year with the Rideau St. Lawrence Kings, followed by spending the remainder of his minor hockey days with the Upper Canada Cyclones before moving on to the Bears last year.

Doef spends approximately one and a half hours a day at the rink, with extra time spent on weight training, all while maintaining an over 90 per cent average in high school. With such obvious dedication and commitment, not to mention time management skills, it’s easy to see why officials at Princeton University would want Doef to attend their school, and be willing to pay to do it.

After learning he was named on the Central Scouting Players to Watch list, Doef said he was “very excited,” calling it a “big honour” to be named on the list. When asked why he thinks Central Scouting would find him a valuable player and a potential NHL candidate, Doef shrugged and smiled humbly, finally offering that it could be because he works hard and can play at both ends of the rink, a valuable skill for a forward.

Although drafted to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) at 16 years old by the Mississauga Steelheads, Doef said he elected to go the NCAA route, and continue his hockey development at Princeton.

“If I get drafted (to the NHL) I’ll still go to Princeton and finish four years and see where it leads me,” Doef said, although he stressed his end goal is definitely to play professional hockey.

Being a local celebrity is a new experience for Doef, who is only in his second year playing for his home town team. As a Bears’ player, Doef can now find many of his classmates in the stands during games, a new experience for him, and one that can definitely add to the pressure to perform.

During his interview with HomeTown News, Doef was approached by a fan who asked if he would be playing in the upcoming game, and expressed how much he looked forward to seeing Doef play. That kind of attention can be difficult for a teen to manage, but Doef said he is happy to embrace being a role model for other kids.

“It’s cool the kids are considering me as their role model,” Doef said. “I have to play the role well, I don’t want to disappoint them.”

Doef may be reluctant to sing his own praises, but Smiths Falls Bears’ Head Coach, Mark Grady, isn’t so shy. Grady clearly identified what makes Doef valuable from a coaching perspective, a player he calls “a very humble person, a good human being.”

“That he (Doef) garnered a scholarship to a prestigious school like Princeton says a lot about his off-ice intelligence and his on-ice intelligence,” Grady explained. “He’s the kind of player every coach wants because of how cerebral he is on and off the ice. He’s very low maintenance to coach…I wish I had four more of him.”

Grady pointed to other Bears’ players who have been successful in playing NCAA hockey, adding that today the amount of young men signing as free agents is significant, giving Doef more opportunity to continue playing professional hockey after obtaining his education at Princeton.

Grady also pointed to another 16-year-old from the Bears’, Zachary Senyshyn, who was drafted to the OHL to play for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, noting Senyshyn and Doef are two players who have chosen two different routes, and are both having success.

“What you have to take a real hard look at his how many kids actually make the National Hockey League,” Grady said. “He’s (Doef) very intelligent and decided to take the conservative route to becoming a pro hockey player, so he can get his education.”

In the meantime, Doef is handling his local celebrity status with aplomb, and offers the following advice to younger hockey players.

“I know it’s cliché, but work hard and just stick with it, you never know where it will lead you.”

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Doef Receives Princeton Scholarship, plays at Central Canada Cup Challenge

Neil Doef, Smiths Falls, Smiths Falls Bears

by Amy Hogue

How does one handle becoming a minor athletic celebrity in a small town while still remaining firmly grounded and completely unassuming? One would have to look to Smiths Falls Bears’ forward, Neil Doef, to find the answer to this question.

The seventeen-year-old Smiths Falls native has become something of a local celebrity and with good reason. Doef’s list of accomplishments seem to be growing longer by the day. Among the most recent include being named on the Central Scouting Preliminary 2014 Players to Watch list; being selected, along with three of his teammates, Jared Henry, Chris MacMillan and Cole Skinner, to play in the Central Canada Cup Challenge mid-November; and receiving a scholarship offer to the prestigious Princeton University.

Weighing in at 183 pounds at 5’10”, Doef has been playing hockey since second year Novice, where he played for the Smiths Falls Minor Hockey Association (SFMHA). He went on to spend one year with the Rideau St. Lawrence Kings, followed by spending the remainder of his minor hockey days with the Upper Canada Cyclones before moving on to the Bears last year.

Doef spends approximately one and a half hours a day at the rink, with extra time spent on weight training, all while maintaining an over 90 per cent average in high school. With such obvious dedication and commitment, not to mention time management skills, it’s easy to see why officials at Princeton University would want Doef to attend their school, and be willing to pay to do it.

After learning he was named on the Central Scouting Players to Watch list, Doef said he was “very excited,” calling it a “big honour” to be named on the list. When asked why he thinks Central Scouting would find him a valuable player and a potential NHL candidate, Doef shrugged and smiled humbly, finally offering that it could be because he works hard and can play at both ends of the rink, a valuable skill for a forward.

Although drafted to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) at 16 years old by the Mississauga Steelheads, Doef said he elected to go the NCAA route, and continue his hockey development at Princeton.

“If I get drafted (to the NHL) I’ll still go to Princeton and finish four years and see where it leads me,” Doef said, although he stressed his end goal is definitely to play professional hockey.

Being a local celebrity is a new experience for Doef, who is only in his second year playing for his home town team. As a Bears’ player, Doef can now find many of his classmates in the stands during games, a new experience for him, and one that can definitely add to the pressure to perform.

During his interview with HomeTown News, Doef was approached by a fan who asked if he would be playing in the upcoming game, and expressed how much he looked forward to seeing Doef play. That kind of attention can be difficult for a teen to manage, but Doef said he is happy to embrace being a role model for other kids.

“It’s cool the kids are considering me as their role model,” Doef said. “I have to play the role well, I don’t want to disappoint them.”

Doef may be reluctant to sing his own praises, but Smiths Falls Bears’ Head Coach, Mark Grady, isn’t so shy. Grady clearly identified what makes Doef valuable from a coaching perspective, a player he calls “a very humble person, a good human being.”

“That he (Doef) garnered a scholarship to a prestigious school like Princeton says a lot about his off-ice intelligence and his on-ice intelligence,” Grady explained. “He’s the kind of player every coach wants because of how cerebral he is on and off the ice. He’s very low maintenance to coach…I wish I had four more of him.”

Grady pointed to other Bears’ players who have been successful in playing NCAA hockey, adding that today the amount of young men signing as free agents is significant, giving Doef more opportunity to continue playing professional hockey after obtaining his education at Princeton.

Grady also pointed to another 16-year-old from the Bears’, Zachary Senyshyn, who was drafted to the OHL to play for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, noting Senyshyn and Doef are two players who have chosen two different routes, and are both having success.

“What you have to take a real hard look at his how many kids actually make the National Hockey League,” Grady said. “He’s (Doef) very intelligent and decided to take the conservative route to becoming a pro hockey player, so he can get his education.”

In the meantime, Doef is handling his local celebrity status with aplomb, and offers the following advice to younger hockey players.

“I know it’s cliché, but work hard and just stick with it, you never know where it will lead you.”

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