by Jashvina Shah
Editor’s note: After the publication of this article, Stuart Pomeroy was traded to the Amarillo Bulls of the NAHL, where he plays with fellow Princeton recruit Joe Grabowksi.
On Sept. 20 Fargo Force’s Michael Babcock ran Sioux City Musketeers’ goalkeeper Kyle Hayton in the first game of their USHL season.
Once Babcock hit Hayton, fellow Musketeer Stuart Pomeroy saw only one option. So he dropped the gloves with Babcock for his team’s first fight of the season.
“It was exciting, it was thrilling, it was a little bit nerve-wracking, I didn’t really have an option to fight the guy or not because he ran our goalie,” Pomeroy says.
“So I took that course of action and gave that player, their team and hopefully some other people around the league a message from myself, and also more importantly from my team, reminding them that we’re going to watch the backs of everyone in our locker room.
“So don’t mess with us,” the 18-year-old says with a laugh.
And when he skated back to the bench, his team congratulated him — not because of the fight, but because he stood up for his goalkeeper.
“That’s really what it’s all about,” Pomeroy says. “It’s not about fighting or punching the other guy or who can draw blood first or who gets hurt the most, it’s about sticking up for your teammates.”
The Sioux City defenseman, who’s slated to attend Princeton in the fall of 2014, appeared in three games before suffering a broken wrist on Oct. 4 and will miss a couple more weeks of play.
The fight accounted for five of Pomeroy’s seven penalty minutes on the season.
“I thought it was fantastic,” Musketeers coach Jay Varady says. “It was a situation where he stood up for his teammate and that’s what’s expected of our team here.”
On the ice, the Seattle native has done more than fight to help his team.
His defensive partner Bobby Nardella recalls an instance when his opponent beat him defensively, creating a 2-on-1 for the other team.
Pomeory stepped in to break up the play.
“[It’s] knowing he’ll always have your back,” Nardella says of the best thing about playing with Pomeroy.
“If you were to make a mistake anywhere around there he’ll be there to cover for you. He’s really reliable.”
He’s played forward, blocked shots and much more for the Sioux City Muskateers over the time he’s been with the team.
“He’s willing to do whatever it takes for the team to win,” Varady says. “Whatever the team needs, he’s it. It also has to do with his leadership qualities as a person.”
The Hockey Journey
Lindsay Pomeroy, Stuart Pomeroy’s dad, played hockey for Princeton. So Stuart Pomeroy grew up playing hockey as well.
“My dad and his Canadian background just got me just introduced me to hockey at a very young age and I was just surrounded by the culture,” Pomeroy says.
For the first 14 years of his life, Pomeroy played AAA travel hockey while his family still lived in Seattle.
“[It] worked okay, it was a great experience, I made a lot of friends and the hockey was okay,” Pomeroy says. “Up until a certain point, and that point was high school.”
While living in Seattle, Pomeroy started looking at different prep schools on the East Coast. The idea fell forgotten, until his dad changed jobs and and the family relocated to Chicago.
“There was no immediate need to augment my hockey decision in any way because the transfer from Seattle to Chicago was a large improvement in that,” Pomeroy says.
In Chicago, Pomeroy played spent a few more years playing AAA hockey, balancing the sport with his freshman and sophomore years of high school.
“After my sophomore year I kind of just had the feeling and had enough experience to know that balancing rigorous academics and elite-level hockey through a travel program and then a normal high school was not a viable and healthy option for the future,” Pomeroy says.
So his family revisited the idea of prep schools and was introduced to Culver Military Academy, located roughly two hours away from Chicago.
Pomeroy sighs as he thinks of how to describe his experience at Culver.
“We had to do this at graduation too,” he says.
The 18-year-old pauses again.
“It’s really hard to describe because there’s so much that goes on at Culver. It’s a culmination of the ultimate high school experience so it’s really, really hard to put into one word. I would say cherished or precious simply due to the fact that I miss it so much and I would go back any day,” Pomeroy says.
“[It] was rigorous. It was rigorous in every situation, in every aspect of life.”
Playing in Sioux City
When Bobby Nardella first met his future defensive partner, it was at Sioux City’s tryout camp. Pomeroy asked Nardella if he was from Chicago and the pair started talking about hockey.
“He’s just a nice guy. Like a really nice guy,” Nardella says of his first impression of Pomeory.
“He’ll always be there to help you. If anybody needs anything you can go to him and he can try to help you out as well as he can.”
Nardella says Pomeroy, known on the team for his intelligence, is one of the first to help with homework and essays.
Before breaking his wrist in the second period of Sioux City’s contest against Tri-City on Oct. 4, Pomeroy was one of the tallest Musketeers at 6-foot-2.
“He’s not extremely tall but he’s just tall and wide,” Varady says. “He kind of looks like he should be playing football. He’s a big, sturdy, steady kid with a physical presence.”
Varady says the first thing he noticed about Pomeroy was the 18-year-old’s competitiveness.
“He enjoys the grind of competition, the grind of a schedule,” Varady says. “He shows up everyday and he’s ready to work.”
It’s not too different a description from the way Pomeroy sees himself.
The defenseman takes a few minutes thinking of the a word that best describes his playing style.
“I’m going to say a synonym of diligent, which I’m going to look up because I know there’s better words out there.”
“Assiduous,” the defenseman says a few seconds later with a laugh. “That works.”
Varady says he has seen improvement from Pomeroy over the time he’s been in the USHL in terms of adjusting to the speed of the league.
“He’s becoming more physical as he’s getting comfortable with the style of play in our league,” Varady says.
Varady also briefly coached Pomeory in another hockey setting, as he coached Pomeroy in Seattle when the defenseman was around 10 years old.
“I remember when I took over the team this summer I saw his name and I recognized [it] a little bit,” Varady says. “I kind of looked at where he was from and obviously he’s living in Chicago now with his family, but they were in Seattle for a good part of his childhood so it’s funny how this game works.”
Being a Musketeer
Pomeroy says there’s a saying that goes around the Sioux City locker room.
“It’s an honor to be a Muskateer,” he says.
“It’s a privilege to have all the resources that we have, to have the beautiful locker room that we have, to have the supportive staff and community. It’s really a privilege and the guys in that locker room, we all realize that [and] everyone checks their egos at the door.”
Even absent from the lineup while healing his wrist, the 18-year-old stays around his team as much as possible. Previously Pomeroy also hurt his shoulder.
“Major injuries are the hardest thing I’ve experienced while playing hockey just because you’re not able to play,” Pomeroy says. “And that’s the worst feeling and the worst situation for any hockey player to be in, is not being able to contribute and be part of what you’re team is doing.”
To combat the feeling of helplessness, the Seattle native says he’s attending meetings and working out.
“The main thing is that I don’t want to disappear,” Pomeroy says.
The Princeton Connection
When Princeton offered Pomeroy a verbal commitment, there was a little hesitation from the defenseman.
“I went on a campus visit an unofficial campus visit, fell in love with it, that’s what I was expecting, I wasn’t expecting anything less,” Pomeroy says, laughing.
“At the end of that campus visit they made an offer and I was ecstatic.”
When Pomeroy was younger, he traveled to Princeton with his parents for a couple reunions. He doesn’t remember much of his first impressions of the campus.
“It looked old and castle-like. And it was really pretty too,” Pomeroy says.
“I just remember it being old and beautiful and pretty intimidating but cool for a youngster.”
As a child of two Princeton alumni, Pomeroy says he grew up encircled in orange and black, hearing stories of the Ivy League school.
“It seemed like the perfect place in every aspect, so when hockey started opening some doors for me and I realized that Princeton might sometime be an option, I was really excited,” Pomeroy says. “I was really determined, I was really set on hopefully being able to make Princeton happen for hockey.”
While on his campus visit in January, Pomeroy stopped by Baker Rink the weekend Princeton played Harvard and Dartmouth.
“Baker was full of character and life,” Pomeroy says. “I knew a little bit about the heritage, the tradition which resides within Baker Arena, but I really got a big dose and a great taste for that when I was there in the locker room with the guys after the game, walking around parts of Baker Arena.
“It’s majestic in a way.”
So when the coaches sent Pomeroy an offer after his unofficial visit, he considered it for about a week.
“Then I realized, you know what I don’t even know why I’m thinking about this,” Pomeroy says.
“It’s a place I’ve wanted to go my entire life.