Before Corey-Joe Ficek was playing a key role on a pair of University of New Hampshire teams that reached the Frozen Four, he was dazzling the state as a schoolboy star and champion at Manchester Memorial High School.
In three years at Memorial, Ficek scored at least 20 goals all three seasons. He finished with 72 goals playing for Wally Tafe (Legends Hall of Famer ’09), despite having his last two seasons shortened by wrist and leg injuries, respectively.
During his junior season, he led the Crusaders to a 4-2 win over Concord in the Division 1 championship game, scoring all four of his team’s goals as his school won the first state title after schools in New Hampshire were broken into two divisions. The Manchester native was named Player of the Year in the state.
From there Ficek moved on to St. Paul’s School in Concord to play for another Legends Hall of Fame coach, Bill Matthews ’06. He managed 49 goals and 39 assists in two seasons, playing against strong competition in the Independent School League and twice getting named ISL All-League. He was captain and team MVP as a senior.
As a freshman at UNH, he played the most games of any freshman on the team as the Wildcats reached their first Frozen Four, losing to Michigan in the national semifinals in Boston. When the ‘Cats returned to the Frozen Four a year later in Anaheim, Calif., losing in the national championship game to Maine, Ficek was named the team’s Most Improved Player, skating in 40 games and producing 10 goals and 17 points. Ficek played all four years for Dick Umile (Legends Hall of Famer ’09).
A tenacious defensive forward, Ficek finished his UNH career with 28 goals and 56 points in 128 games played. He received the Warren R. Brown Memorial Award as a senior for being the best defensive forward on the team, also serving as alternate captain.
After playing professionally for three seasons in Germany, Ficek returned to Manchester, where his hockey commitments include volunteering with MRYHA’s “Learn to Skate” program. He was inducted into the Queen City Hall of Fame in 2008 and was named to the All-N.H. Millennium second team as selected by the Union Leader in 1999.
“Looking back on where CJ has come from in his youth play, through his high school and college careers, and where he is today, I’ve seen him grow not only as a player but as a coach, parent, and member of the community,” said Matthew Tafe, the son of Wally Tafe, whose own son was instructed by Ficek.