Bloomingdale native prepares to take hockey skills to college level
Joe Abate wasn't born playing hockey.
It took a couple of years.
The Bloomingdale native told the DuPage Policy Journal that he's been on the ice since he was about 2 years old. People told him he liked swinging things around, and his dad played hockey when he was a kid to help get him more into the sport.
“Pretty much fell in love with cold rink and the ice and skating around,” Abate said.
Abate hasn't left the ice much since then. Currently, Abate is playing for the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets of the North American Hockey League, which is designed to develop players ages 16-20 in preparation for college or professional play, according to nahl.com.
Abate was born in Hinsdale, but has called Bloomingdale home since he was about 5, he said. Abate went to preschool at St. Isidore, then Erickson Elementary for kindergarten through fifth grade, and attended
Westfield Middle School before going to Lake Park High School for his freshman-through-junior years.
Abate said that when he was about 8 or 9 years old, he started playing on travel teams and joined the Chicago Fury program for two years. According to EliteProspects.com, Abate had 52 points in 63 games for the Fury. He also played two seasons with the Chicago Mission, notching 40 points in 47 games, and played several games for the Bloomington Thunder of the United States Hockey League.
Abate said the biggest jump in terms of level of competition was going from the Mission to the Thunder.
“Just because it was faster-paced, and the players were better and older,” Abate said.
To adapt, Abate worked on his skating, using his strong work ethic and natural skating ability to improve, he said.
“Over time, you kind of adapt to the pace of play and just get into it,” Abate said.
This year, on June 7, Abate was drafted by Janesville in the first round of the NAHL Draft, as the 20th selection. He said he is technically a senior in high school and takes online classes when not at practice or working out.
Abate said he has improved his physicality, while working a lot on controlling passes with his feet, as well as his hand-eye coordination.
Abate has another leap in competition to make in about two years when he joins the Badgers program. Abate said he chose Wisconsin over other college-hockey powerhouses such as North Dakota and Notre Dame because it represented the “best of both worlds” in terms of academics and hockey, plus the school was close to home.
“I just fell in love with Wisconsin more than I did Notre Dame,” Abate said.
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