By Mike Fine
Gatehouse News Service - Patriot Ledger
|Senior captain Patrick Greene leads
Stonehill in points with 23 points on the
EASTON--When Pat Leahy was pondering the prospects of a job as Stonehill's head hockey coach last year, he knew there was at least one factor that worked in his favor.
"I'm a South Shore guy," said the Canton native, who had spent four seasons as the Winchendon School's head coach. "I know all the public school coaches, all the prep coaches. I know a lot of the Division II coaches in the area. As far as knowing the kids on my team, I actually have three kids from my hometown who I've known since literally they were in diapers. My mum used to do daycare and she used to mind one of the kids. I used to play street hockey with the kid (Bryan Rooney, now a sophomore forward) when he was in diapers. I obviously know the Canton kids." A family friend did day care for another of Leahy's players (freshman forward Kevin Aufiero).
Leahy seemed to have a connection with many of his new skaters, even if he didn't recruit any of them. He already knew senior captain Patrick Greene of Weymouth, a Catholic Memorial product whose brother skated for him at Winchendon. "So in summer tournaments when I'd put kids in, obviously his brother would play with me, and Patrick would come and play, as well. So I've known Pat for four or five years." And it just so happens that Greene's younger brother, Brendan, is a Stonehill freshman.
Leahy's freshman goalie, Chris Tasiopoulos of Norwell, was also familiar. "He was a prep kid when he was at Thayer. And Billy (sophomore Carey, also of Weymouth and CM) comes from a big hockey family. His brother's (Paul) at BC. Billy actually contacted me at Winchendon showing some interest, but he chose to play junior hockey instead. Hockey's a small world. You get to know everyone."
It took Stonehill, a quality educational institution with a strong Div. II athletic program, to bring them together.
"I looked at a lot of local schools and ended up choosing Stonehill because I felt it was a great fit," said Patrick Greene, a senior forward. "It was pretty similar to Catholic Memorial—a small Catholic school. I came and visited the campus and felt that it would be a great fit for me. And it has been."
Like his teammates, Greene not only loved the school, but also the fact that he would be playing with many of the same players he'd competed with an against for years. He says he's played with Carey, "probably since I was four years old--pretty much every year of our lives. Him I've played with the most. My little brother is a freshman, so I've played with him a lot in the summers and stuff. Matt Doherty and J.J. Sabin are from Milton. There's a lot of guys I've played with and against over the years."
He says the familiarity made the transition easier. "When we started out as freshmen there were nine or ten of us and I think all but one or two was from Massachusetts, so it kind of made it an easier transition. We were all from similar backgrounds."
"I've always known Patrick," said Carey, a forward and assistant captain. "Growing up I played with him with the (South Shore) Kings. Our families were friends. Our brothers are the same age so we pretty much were always around each other, so when I came here to Stonehill I was in a comfortable position because I knew someone who was older and had experience and had the same path as me. It really helped me adapt to the environment here."
Even Tasiopoulos, who assumed the role of starting goaltender after incumbent Tyler Jackson was injured, feels a connection. "I like that," said the Thayer Academy product. "I've played with a few guys before. My roommate, Brendan Greene--Pat's younger brother--I knew him coming in and knowing he was coming here was one of the reasons I came here."
|Freshman Chris Tasiopoulos has a .910
save percentage in 14 games played
for the Skyhawks.
It's more than just knowing the skaters personally. Having played together is a benefit even for a goalie. "Yeah, it's good because it lets me trust them a little bit more, and having trust in your team as a goalie is important because I'll know…say a defenseman's rushing the puck. He has to trust me that if he makes a mistake I'll bail him out and vice versa. Or if I'm not covering a part of the net he'll block a shot."
The familiarity seems to be working. After starting out at 0-4, the Skyhawks went on to improve to 5-6-1 before a 2-0 loss to Becker College following a month-plus vacation layoff. In their last four games, the Skyhawks have gone 1-2-1 overall.
Having won five games last season, the rebound was largely a result of the newfound comfort with Leahy and his system after he sat his players down and told them they were beginning from square one at the start of this season.
While Leahy says he may broaden his recruiting horizons in the future, there's little doubt that he likes what he sees on his roster. "In the long run as a coach," he said, "if the best kids are from down the street, I'm gonna take those kids if they want to be part of what we're doing."
Stonehill (6-9-2, 3-2-1 NE-10) travels to Franklin Pierce University for a NE-10 matchup on Saturday, February 4 at 7:30 p.m.
- www.stonehillskyhawks.com -