Foo Raises the Bar
Union Junior Part of Nation's Highest-Scoring Line
by Joshua Seguin/Staff Writer
Consistency doesn't always come easily for a hockey player, but the ones that find it have the ability to make an impact every time they step on the ice.
Although Union's Mike Vecchione has become known nationally — and been discussed as a Hobey candidate — Spencer Foo has been equally impressive for the surprise Dutchmen that find themselves in the top ten of the Pairwise and first in the ECAC.
Foo has been the master of consistency. He has at least one point in 19-straight games and has found the scoresheet in 20 of 21. He only failed to get a point during the first weekend of the season, when Union was shut out by Michigan.
"Consistency is always something that I have worked on," Foo said. "I have struggled with it in the past. This year I have just been able to find the chemistry with my linemates and things just seem to be going in when i'm on the ice, more so than in the past."
Foo is third in the country in points (36), sixth in goals (14) and third in assists (22). With a plus-25 rating, he leads the nation in that category.
"That consistency has been very important because it has allowed the younger players to see that through consistency breeds success," Union coach Rick Bennett said. "Spencer is one of the hardest workers in practice each day. Hopefully that resonates throughout the year and when he moves on. My hope is that my younger players emulate his work ethic and consistency."
In ECAC play he is putting together quite the argument for Player of the Year; he is averaging two points per game in league play and has found his name on the scoresheet every night.
"He is playing in all situations, on the PK, on the PP and on 4-on-4," Bennett said. "He has earned all those minutes and the biggest thing for him is that he is consistent with his work ethic. That is why he is on the streak he is."
It isn't as though his production is new, because he has been a steady performer since day one. Foo had 25 points in each of his first two season, including 23 goals. This season, the pace has gone up to a rate of 1.71 points per game, which is also third in the nation.
"Work ethic is a huge thing," Foo said. "As a player, if you don't quite have the right work ethic, that is where the consistency problems can start. If you go out every game and focus on working as hard as you can, everything else will fall into place."
How does a kid from Edmonton, Alberta, end up in Schenectady, N.Y.?
"I played junior hockey in Bonnyville (AJHL)," Foo said. "I didn't know much about the NCAA, but I always wanted to try get myself a scholarship. Union was one of the first schools that scouted me and talked to me. I didn't know much about the school at the time.
"They were having the run to the national championship, I was able to come in, see them play and see the campus. I loved everything I saw, it just seemed like the right fit for me."
Foo, Vecchione and Sebastian Vidmar have combined to be the most deadly line in the country this season, with 98 points and 41 goals.
"It has been good for us this year," said Foo. "Mike and I feed off each other with our speed. Viddy always seems to be in the right place and for the most part always making the right plays. That has been huge because if me and Veccs can get the puck in our hands we have been able to something with it."
One of the biggest reasons for the success is the chemistry that Foo has with his center, Vecchione. The two have been playing on the same line for the better part of three-years now. Even when Vidmar was injured for a period of time at the end of the first half, Union went 3-0-0 with wins against Yale and a pair of big road wins at Vermont. Foo had seven points in those three games, a hat-trick against Yale and a pair of goals versus Vermont.
"Those guys got off to an unbelievable start," Bennett said. "They had some challenges when Vidmar went down. Brett Supinski did a great job in his place and that has helped him. That line and Supinski has helped the other lines to develop as well."
Of course there are visible advantages of playing next to such a great player like Vecchione. The spotlight isn't on, but, then again, when your line is on the ice, defenses are tighter and they are well aware of who you are.
"That is defintely a nice part of it, kind of being in the background a litte bit more," Foo said. "Mike is such a special guy and he deserves every bit of attention that he gets. For me, it is unreal I get to play with him everyday."
After starting the season 14-3-2, Union has dropped recent games to Boston University and North Dakota. They were good tests for Foo and his team. Despite the losses, Union didn't look out of place and proved they might just be a player later in the season.
"Obviously every player is going to have good games and not so good games," Foo said. "This year it seems like even when I am not playing well, I will make a pass to someone and they will score. It has been a bit luck for sure, but I also have to give it to my teammates.
"I still got a ways to go and I still have a lot to do to improve my game. I have always wanted to be able to produce like I am now and I am lucky the pieces have fallen into place and I am getting to play with the guys I am. It is all kind of working out."