Division 1 potential?

Randy Russon
February 20, 2017

The kid can play. To be sure, there is an attractive offer on the table for Jake Palmerio to attend school in Michigan and play at the Division 3, National Collegiate Athletic Association level beginning next season.

The hockey team has made him an offer and Palmerio has fulfilled the education requirements that would make him a student-athlete at the school in question.

But Palmerio, a 1997 birth-year forward with the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, wants to wait it out before committing to a particular school.

For one, Palmerio still has another season of junior hockey eligibility remaining after this season.

Then there is the fact that there are other Division 3, NCAA schools that have been made aware of — and are in the process of checking out — the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Palmerio, a hard-working, character kid who plays bigger than his size.

Having passed the 20-goal mark and averaging a point-per-game as an all-purpose performer for the Eagles this season, Palmerio is a lead-by-example player who continues to impress coaches Jim Capy and Bruno Bragagnolo.

Dependable. Tough. Relentless. Hard-working.

Those are just a few of the words that coaches Capy and Bragagnolo have used to describe Palmerio, a Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native who is in his second season with the Michigan-based Eagles.

But while Palmerio will no doubt have more than one Division 3, NCAA offer to choose from when he opts to move on from the Eagles and the NOJHL and head to school, there has to be at least one Division 1 school out there that should have the kid’s name somewhere in the files.

And to be sure, the youngster’s coach from two seasons ago with the erstwhile Batchewana Attack of the now-defunct Canadian International Hockey League — the reputable Denny Lambert — is but a phone call away from any Division 1 coach who wants to ask about Palmerio.

Suffice to say that Lambert, the retired National Hockey League journeyman of more than 500 games and recently-hired as associate coach of the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League, knows a player when he sees one. Lambert is also high on character mixed with ability — and he continues to follow Palmerio.

As a matter of fact, when I asked Lambert if he thought Palmerio had the overall ability and make up to play at the Division 1, NCAA level, the reply was quick and without hesitation.

“Absolutely. Without question,” was Lambert’s response.

Lambert knows what it is like to be on the small side and off the main radar.

Never drafted into the Ontario Hockey League, Lambert made the Soo Greyhounds as an 18-year old walk-on and stuck around to play three full seasons.

Never drafted into the NHL, Lambert persevered and eventually made it to the “Show” and lasted to skate in more than 500 games in what was an improbable career.

So when the now 47-year old Lambert — who had eight years of coaching experience in the OHL with the Greyhounds prior to his current QMJHL gig in Gatineau — gives his opinion on a player, the tendency is to take him at his word.

If a guy like Lambert says a kid like Palmerio can play Division 1, NCAA hockey then I believe it.

And if there is a Division 1, NCAA coach out there looking for a reference on Palmerio, all they need do is to give Lambert a call.

PHOTO: Jake Palmerio, in action for the Soo Eagles of the NOJHL. (Photo by Ali Pearson.)

What you think about “Division 1 potential?”

  1. Jake made the smart choice to weigh his options and wait for better offers to come. He will most definitely play D1 hockey with his ability unlike so many who jump at the first offer they receive to only play a few games then go back down to a lower division to finish off their career. Lambert knows talent when he sees it.

  2. IMO tireless on the fore-check and demonstrates excellent puck possession skills; always enjoy watching him.

    Not to distract from Palmerio’s ink here; Soo Eagles Murphy, #21 is a kid that sticks out every game for the Eagles as well; any word on his future plans?

    Either way, both these kids can play at the DIV 1 level; hopefully LSSU is watching there backyard. Don’t have to travel to Pembroke and Smith Falls to find quality players!

  3. As a seasoned hockey guy and supporter of our local Soo Eagles and Lakers, I’ve watched this kid play and I’ve met him a couple times during Eagle functions and Randy your dead on on your statements. Great kid and can play the game. I can’t believe Lake State hasn’t locked him up. Hopefully the coaching staff are making phone calls for this kid. It’s a pleasure watching you play Jake, keep up the good hustle!!

  4. Every game I have watched, Jacob has always put a strong effort both ways on the ice. A consistent two- way player would be a welcome member of any college team. Jacob has proven that he can perform game in and game out. Just give him a shot!!!

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