The '02 native of Namibia, Africa told his family he was 'Heading West' back in September, and took them totally by surprise.
“I called my family to tell them I'm moving to America to play ice hockey, and they thought I was crazy,” said Finkeldey.
What followed upon Finkeldey's arrival was a memorable season that saw him post 22 points in 42 total games in the Eastern Hockey League Premier (EHLP). The 6'3 forward played a big role for his team, while helping to lead the Huntsmen to the Mid-Atlantic Division Finals.
"Fink was determined to keep playing after aging out and only playing ice hockey for 8 months," said Huntsmen general manager Zach Overholtzer. "He was looking for a situation where he could continue to develop his game. When the season ended, he had been talking with a few schools. When Arcadia came into the picture it changed the game. They say that 'hard work creates opportunities', and Coach [Vince] Pietrangelo had heard his story and spent some time with him over a weekend camp we hosted at Exton. I had told Vince when Max was making his way over from Africa, and I thought I was crazy and hoped for the best. There is no way I could of predicted his exponential development over the course of the 2022-23 season. However, Arcadia is getting more than a hockey player. Max Finkeldey is the most determined person I've come across in this game. He consistently exceeds the goals he sets for himself while making the others around him better, both on and off the ice. He's a natural leader and an extension of the coaching staff. We started the Huntsmen because we wanted to give back to the game and give opportunities to guys aspiring to play NCAA hockey. Finkeldey is the first of what we hope to be many NCAA Commitments to announce in the future."
Finkeldey's coach this past season was Blaise Kilroy, who also happened to be is his first season behind the bench of the a junior program.
"Max is the epitome of what it means to be a teammate, team player, and leader on and off the ice," said Kilroy. "8 months ago Max had only ice skated a handful of times. He didn’t let that define who he was as an ice hockey player. He put in the work, the time on and off the ice, and most importantly, created teaching moments from every failure, both big and small. In his first few months not only learning how to ice skate, Max needed to learn the rules of ice hockey and all its nuances, he became a true student of the game, calling me at every hour asking questions. With his hard work, dedication to getting better each and every day, and coming to the rink with a great attitude, Max truly earned this in every sense. I could not be more proud of Max, he deserves this and I cannot wait to continue to watch how he develops over the next 4 years."
The feeling that a person can get from hearing both Overholtzer and Kilroy talk about Finkeldey, is that the Huntsmen only wish they were able to keep the forward in their program for a longer period of time. This is especially the case when you factor in Pennsylvania adding an EHL team under their umbrella this upcoming year, set to be led by Matt Reid.
"What Blaise and Zach did to develop Max throughout the year was truly amazing," said Reid. "When I jumped on board late in the season, it was incredible to watch his progress. He literally got better every day, and became one of the toughest players in the league to play against as a coach. A player has to check all the boxes to put your name on him and Max certainly does that. He will be a great fit at Arcadia with Coach Pietrangelo."
In addition to seeing his hard work recognized, Finkeldey's comments over his decision echo a similar sentiment to one that the coaching staff has. While they are beyond proud of what the forward accomplished, this ending to a relatively quick year in Pennsylvania is an absolutely dream scenario.
"It's hard to believe, but I have made the next step to college hockey," said Finkeldey. "I would have never thought that I would be playing NCAA Hockey ever in my life. It was just 8 months ago when I didn't even know what NCAA was, and now I am playing at the next level and going to college. Life is crazy and that is the perfect example of how you can achieve anything you put your mind to. This is all I wanted and now it finally happened and I am more proud and honored then words can describe, over the opportunity that I have received. I am finally rewarded for all the hard work that myself and my coaches have put in over the course of the last 8 months. I am so happy and so grateful to everyone that made this possible."
Learn more about the Huntsmen on the team's official website, and check out the full 2022-23 NCAA commitment list.