Brian Pinho was only 10 years old when 1st Lt. Derek Hines — who was serving during Operation Enduring Freedom — was tragically killed by enemy forces while his unit was conducting security operations in Bavlough, Afghanistan, on Sept. 1, 2005.
As you might have guessed, Pinho never met Hines. But there’s a part of him that certainly feels as if he knew Hines, the remarkable young man and hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country at just 25 years old.
This Saturday afternoon at the Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, St. John’s Prep will host Catholic Conference rival BC High in the fifth annual Derek Hines Memorial Game, played in honor of the former St. John’s Prep captain and West Point hockey alternate captain. This will mark the fourth time that Pinho — a senior captain for the Eagles himself — will play in this remarkable contest.
“It’s very special to be a part of. Unbelievably special,” said Pinho, who along with fellow Prep captains Brent Murray and Derek Osbahr has helped many volunteers get ready for this Saturday’s game. “It’s a great honor to play for Derek. We’re not playing this game for ourselves, but for him.”
St. John’s Prep head coach Kristian Hanson (another former Eagles’ captain) didn’t know Hines personally, but when he was hired as the team’s head coach six years ago he made it a priority to find a way to honor the Newburyport native.
“We wanted to have a day to remember Derek,” said Hanson, “and we’re happy we get to honor him this way. His family and friends come to the game and it’s special for everyone involved.
“This helps keep his story alive.”
Steven Hines, Derek’s father, came and spoke to the Prep players prior to last year’s game and told them what his son was like. As it turned out, the 17-year-old Derek Hines was a lot like many of the Eagles wearing hockey sweaters that day.