LINCOLN, Neb. - Stars goaltender Cameron Whitehead has announced his commitment to Northeastern University, an NCAA Division I program playing in the Hockey East conference.
Whitehead, 18, made his USHL debut last Friday in Pittsburgh at the USHL Fall Classic, stopping 29 saves against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in a 1-0 overtime loss. Despite the result, Whitehead looked poised and controlled in front of an intimidating crowd at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
“I was definitely nervous at the beginning,” Whitehead said. “Going out for warmups and seeing 500 scouts is a pretty cool moment. Once the game started and I made the first save, I settled down and felt pretty good throughout the whole game."
The Orleans, ON native was selected in the 10th round of the 2021 USHL Entry Draft but has progressed significantly in a short time.
“Cameron was obviously on the radar of the scouting staff and Billy Pugliese prior to me becoming a part of the staff here,” Stars head coach Rocky Russo said. “My first view of Cameron is that he looks like a pro. He’s big, he’s talented, he’s structurally sound in the net, but he’s also very athletic. He’s continuously got better throughout the course of training camp and into the regular season. He’s going to continue to get better as we move along.”
Following Whitehead’s stellar performance, a number of scouts piled up outside the Stars locker room waiting to meet with No. 39. Those conversations quickly evolved into scholarship offers, leading to his decision to commit to Northeastern on Tuesday.
“It was a pretty stressful week, honestly, but it was a good problem to have,” Whitehead said. “There were so many good schools that wanted to talk to me. After the game, I’ve never experienced anything like that. Having eight scouts wanting to talk to me was a pretty cool moment. It was a fun process.”
The Huskies have qualified for the NCAA tournament in three out of the last five seasons and are looking to reach the Frozen Four for the first time since the 1981-82 season. With a number of current/past NHL alumni like former Stars Zach Aston-Reese, Cayden Primeau and Kevin Roy, Northeastern boasts a storied program that Whitehead will eventually call home.
The campus being only seven hours away from Whitehead’s hometown in Canada is just the icing on the cake.
“Everything about the university interested me,” Whitehead explained. “They have Mike Condon as a goalie coach full-time and that was a huge factor. It is closer to home; it’s a great campus and a great program, as well. It’s going to be an awesome place to play.”
Whitehead spent the 2020-21 season in the NCDC with the Utica Jr. Comets, appearing in 29 games, compiling a record of 11-12-3, a save percentage of .896 and a goals-against average of 3.40. If there was any doubt the 6-foot-3 netminder couldn’t adjust to the pace and skill level of the USHL, Whitehead extinguished it in his near-perfect outing against the RoughRiders.
“He made some big saves,” Russo said. “We had a couple of defensive zone breakdowns where he was able to step up and hold us in. The game-winning goal was a tough situation: 4-on-3 in overtime after a questionable call. I certainly don’t put that result on Cameron. He was outstanding that game. He gained a lot of confidence for himself after that start and now he knows he belongs in this level.”
With his first USHL regular-season start out of the way, belonging in the league is just the beginning.
“I know that I can [play in this league],” Whitehead said. “There’s not going to be as many nerves now knowing that I can perform; this season is going to be a fun time.”