The Blue Line Report
---- — 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.
“It seemed like Derek was a great kid,” said Pinho, a Providence College hockey commit. “His dad told us what a hard worker he was, and how that helped him do well at both St. John’s and West Point. He told us about Derek being very strong willed — which kind of relates to the kids on our team.”
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Hines played four years of hockey at St. John’s, captaining the 1998-99 team to the Super 8 semifinals while leading the team in goals (20), points (39) and playing scoring (5 goals, 7 points). After graduating he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, played hockey for the Black Knights for four years, then joined the 173rd Airborne Division.
For the third straight season the Eagles will face off against B.C. High in the Hines game; its head coach, Joe Flaherty, was an assistant under long-time B.C. High coach Joe McCabe when Hines was playing for SJP.
The Hines Memorial Game tradition began in 2008 against Woburn, faced Central Catholic the following year and have cemented a relationship with B.C. High ever since. In the four previous contests, only Central was able to defeat St. John’s.
St. John’s Prep (10-2) comes into the game on a tear, having won seven of their eight games since the calendar turned to 2013. After last night’s road victory over the two-time defending Super 8 champions from Malden Catholic, 5-2, the Eagles have officially qualified for the state tournament. Saturday, they’ll be looking to avenge one of their two setbacks this season against a B.C. High team that prides itself on shutting down teams offensively.
On Friday night, when the Eagles gather for their traditional pre-game pasta party at one of the player’s homes, Pinho, Osbahr and Murray will outline Hines’ life and accomplishments at St. John’s, West Point and in the military to their teammates. When they hit the ice tomorrow at Ristuccia, the focus will be on B.C. High — but their minds will also be on Hines.
“It’ll almost feel like a Super 8 game,” said Pinho. “It’s different than all the other regular season games, with a lot more energy in our (locker) room and when we get on the ice. Everything’s faster and much more up-tempo. We’re constantly reminding ourselves of how important this game is.”
“If there’s any game you’re going to leave it all on the ice, this is that game,” added Hanson. “We play and coach the game because we love the sport, but this is bigger than all of us. This is for Derek.”
Corey Carmody apparently has a knack for lighting the lamp just before the buzzer.
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound left wing has a knack for anticipating the play, grabbing the biscuit away from unsuspecting defenders and turning on the afterburners as he races towards the goal. Amesbury found that out the hard way two days ago.
With 10 seconds left in the first period of a scoreless game, Carmody stole a pass and went in alone on a breakaway, beating Indians netminder Jeff Buck by picking the top corner.
Then, on the tail end of a penalty kill in the second stanza, Carmody again poked the puck loose and gained possession, flew up ice and beat Buck up high for his second unassisted goal of the contest — this one with just four seconds until the break.
On a team chock full of scoring balance — the Big Blue have seven different players with at least 11 points — Carmody’s nine goals and 14 points are a pleasant addition to a squad that has punched its ticket for postseason play earlier than head coach Gino Faia can ever remember.
“He’s right up there as far as guys on breakaways,” Faia, who needs two more wins for 100 in his career, said of Carmody.
“Corey’s just got that strong stride and is able to separate himself from defenders. And when he bears in on the goalie, he’s better off when he shoots rather than try to be fancy — and that’s exactly what he did (Monday).”
With fellow lamplighters such as Nunzio Morretti (11 goals, 15 points), Ryan Cresta (6-7-13), freshman Noah Maercklein (6-6-12), Robert Serino (4-8-12) and two-way threats Trevor Massey (2-12-14) and Chris Carman (6-5-11) on defense — not to mention two superb goaltenders in freshman Tristan Bradley (6-0, 1.31 GAA) and sophomore Trent Gallagher (4-2, 1.99 GAA) — the Big Blue are built for big things this winter.
In desperate need of some scoring pop, Peabody will certainly welcome back Derek Demild into the fold for tonight’s game at Melrose (6 p.m.). The junior forward, who missed the last two games after a hitting from behind disqualification, is the Tanners’ leading scorer with six goals and nine points. Together with Mike Vadala and captain Matt McIsaac, they’ve produced a dozen goals, more than half of their team’s total.
If the Tanners (2-7-2 overall, 2-6-2 for MIAA postseason purposes) are ever going to make a run for a playoff bid this winter, now is the time they have to do so. They’ve lost three straight, have only one win in their last eight games and are averaging just goals a contest. They’ve also been outscored by their foes in all three periods, including a 17-6 margin in the third.
Finding a way to create some offense will go a long way towards helping; so will tightening up in the defensive zone and not allowing rebounds that opposing forwards can feast on.
Bet You Didn’t Know: When Jay Calcagno scored with 7:33 to play two days ago to give Danvers an eventual 1-1 tie at Methuen, it was the first time in eight games the Falcons had scored in a third period of a particular game.
Marblehead, which has won seven straight (and hasn’t tasted defeat thus far in 2013), can qualify for the playoffs as soon as Saturday if they can defeat Winthrop at Salem State (5:10 p.m.).
The 10-2 Headers, who need 22 points to qualify because of their 22-game regular season schedule, will be heading back to the Big Dance for the eighth straight season once they get the two points they require to gain admission; that’d be the second-longest postseason run in school history, trailing on the program’s run from 1964-73.
Getting 6-foot-1, 235-pound junior defenseman Trevor Gelineau back after he missed the season’s first seven games with an injury have certainly helped add to Marblehead’s depth on the blue line along with stalwarts Liam Gillis, Zac Cuzner, Cam Rowe, Nick Perry and freshman Kyle Koopman. Together, the Headers’ blue liners have combined offensively for one goal and 22 assists thus far.
Beverly (11-0-1) is one of just four teams in the state that is still unbeaten, and has the best record among that quartet of squads. Division 1 power Springfield Cathedral, regarded by some as the state’s top dog, sits at 9-0-2; so does Lincoln-Sudbury, who could very well meet Beverly in the Division 2 North playoffs. The other Bay State squad without a blemish is Division 3 club Medway (8-0-3).
In addition, just one team has allowed fewer goals than Beverly: Nashoba Tech (9-1-2), a Division 3A school in Central Mass., has given up just eight tallies. Beverly and Division 3 Western Mass. club Westfield (8-1) have each surrendered a mere nine goals.
An interesting side note: both Beverly and Nashoba have a state-best six shutouts thus far, but the Panthers have scored 60 goals (an average of 5 per game) while Nashoba has netted just 35 (a hair under 3 per night).
The Blue Line Report, a column on North Shore high school hockey, appears each Wednesday during the winter season in The Salem News. Contact sports editor Phil Stacey at email@example.com or 978-338-2650, and follow him on Twitter @PhilStacey_SN.