Severna Park has always been known for developing outstanding lacrosse players. But now, with Jackson Merrill being drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft by the San Diego Padres, Severna Park is getting noticed for developing athletes in other sports.
The latest Severna Park athlete drafted was Anthony Domina, who was selected in the fifth round by the North Iowa Bulls of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).
“I started watching hockey with my dad at 4 years old and began playing hockey at 5,” said Domina, who was raised in the Manhattan Beach neighborhood of Severna Park.
“I played lacrosse and baseball growing up, but I was best at hockey,” Domina said. “I love the game. I love the physicality and quickness of the game.”
After playing in numerous leagues at Piney Orchard and other rinks in the Washington area, Domina was offered a chance to play at the Northern Cyclones Academy in Hudson, New Hampshire. That school further develops hockey players and has online high school classes and tutoring.
“The academy really focuses on grades as the college recruiters will only take great students with a very high grade point average (GPA),” said Gary Cremen, one of Domina’s former coaches, who runs the Piney Orchard facility in Odenton. “If a college is recruiting a player with a 4.0 GPA compared to a 2.5 GPA, they’ll take to 4.0 GPA every time because the student exhibits great time management skills and maturity.”
The academy also offers players outstanding instruction and exposure to the junior leagues across the county. The Maryland Black Bears, who play at Piney Orchard, are one of those teams.
“I’ve coached Anthony from 5 years old until 16,” Cremen said. “He learned how to play hockey the right way as well as how to skate properly. He’s worked hard and listened well to instruction from his coaches.”
Cremen has seen the advancement and maturity of Domina, who is also best friends with Cremen’s son, Scott. “Both of them have always played up a level, (playing at the next age bracket), so that has really helped them compete at a very high level.”
Domina enjoyed his time at the Northern Cyclones Academy because of the specialized training and opportunity to showcase his skills in front of scouts and recruiters.
“Unlike other sports, the colleges like players to play in the advanced junior leagues for three years to ensure they are mature both mentally and physically when they step on the ice at a college campus,” Cremen said. “They are a 21-year-old freshman when they begin their college career.”
Hockey now has the advantage of Hockey TV where anyone can watch games being livestreamed. This helps the recruiters see as many players as possible to track their development.
Domina will have a 60-game schedule next year at North Iowa as well as play in an arena that holds 2,200 fans in Mason City, Iowa.
He would like to return to the East Coast to play college hockey, namely Maine or Vermont, and he also has professional National Hockey League aspirations.
Domina knows he needs to keep developing his skills to get the attention of college recruiters, but his dedication to the sport goes back to playing hockey games at 6:45am on Saturday mornings at Piney Orchard.
“He’s a great kid and knows he will be playing in front of big crowds in Iowa as it’s the only game in town,” Cremen said. “He realizes that every time he plays in Iowa, it will be an audition for future scholarships. He’s worked very hard for this opportunity.”