Lewiston’s Tanner Anctil gains valuable experience at UMass hockey camp

Lewiston’s Tanner Anctil controls the puck as teammate Nicholas Pelletier and North Yarmouth Academy’s Raphael Tessier keep pace during a game in the 2020-21 season at The Colisee. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Tanner Anctil caught the eye of one of the top Division I hockey programs in the United States earlier this year.

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst — which won the 2021 national championship — invited the Lewiston native to its NewMass Hockey Experience 2002-06 born camp, which featured 180 players and took place July 14-16.

Anctil was the only player from Maine to attend.

“The camp was an invite-only camp, so I was honored to receive an invite from UMass,” Anctil said in a text message to the Sun Journal.

The camp allowed UMass coaches and coaches from other Division I programs like Brown, Dartmouth College, Holy Cross, Providence College, Union College, the University of Connecticut, and Amherst College — a Division III school — the opportunity to give players video analysis and work on skill development.

Anctil said he learned a lot from the coaches.

“I spoke to some of the college coaches at the UMass camp, and they said they liked the way I played,” Anctil said. “They also gave me some feedback and things to work on, which I thought was very helpful. I think it was a great experience to be able to talk to those coaches and ask them questions, both on and off the ice.”

Lewiston’s Tanner Anctil scoops the puck away from Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse’s Johnny Hole during a game earlier this year at The Colisee in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Anctil said he impressed the coaches with his work ethic and the coaches told him to continue getting stronger and improve his footwork.

He kept a keen eye on how current UMass players do drills that will help him get better as a player.

Anctil, 16, enjoyed going up against players who are a bit older and have more experience than him.

“Going up against players a few years older than me was a good challenge,” Anctil said. “I think playing high school hockey these past couple of years has helped me get used to that. I like playing with older players because it pushes me to do better and to work harder, which will help me a lot in the long run.”

This was the first camp of this type Anctil has attended. He had an invitation to the New England District Development camp in the spring. He couldn’t attend the camp because he was with the Maine Gladiators 16U team, competing at the USA Hockey Tier II 16U 2A nationals in Troy, Michigan.

He led all Gladiator skaters with eight points (four goals and four assists) as the Gladiators reached the final, losing to the Ashburn (Virginia) Xtreme 6-3. Anctil believes that’s where the UMass coaching staff first noticed him.

Anctil also spent the past three seasons with Lewiston High School. He led the Blue Devils last season with 13 goals and 17 assists in 17 games.

Now he will head to North Yarmouth Academy for his senior year. The Lewiston-NYA connection is strong, with former Blue Devils coach Jamie Belleau now an assistant coach, and there was a handful of Lewiston players on last year’s NYA roster.

Anctil wants to play against tougher competition in hopes of playing college hockey in the future.

“Making the decision to go to NYA next year was a very tough decision,” Anctil said. “In the end, it was the hockey at NYA that made me want to go. I think going to prep hockey will help me develop more as a player. Just playing tougher competition and having to work harder will help me a lot with where I want to go in the future, which is college hockey. I am hoping to play junior hockey after I graduate next year and from there go on to college hockey.”

Anctil said it will be a few years before he starts the college hockey recruiting process, but the experience at the UMass camp has him wanting to attend more of these camps.

“Since the summer is almost over, I will not be attending any more camps this year but hope to do a couple of them next year,” Anctil added.


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