In terms of competition and exposure, there’s only so much the Bay State can offer a high school hockey player. So for the past three years, Peabody hockey head coach Mark Leonard has done his best to offer local players a look at what life on the ice is like outside the borders of Massachusetts.
Most recently, Leonard joined Malden Catholic coach John McLean and assistant Phil Antonelli, and B.C. High assistant coach Bob Roche in taking two teams of local players out to Minnesota two weekends ago to compete in the Upper Mid West High School Elite Hockey League.
The elite Massachusetts all-star team, coached by Bob Roche, included St. John’s Prep players Brian Pinho (senior), Jack McCarthy (junior), and Tyler Bird (junior), and Malden Catholic senior Michael Iovanna (Middleton) and sophomore Ara Nazarian (Boxford). The elite team finished its three games at 1-2.
The lower level Massachusetts all-stars, coached by Leonard, included the Prep’s Jim Currier (junior), Peabody’s Derek DeMild (junior) and Danvers’ Joe Strangie (senior). Leonard’s group finished 2-1 after dropping its first game 4-3 to Minnesota in a shootout.
“I’m lucky to be involved and to have the opportunity for a few NEC (Northeastern Conference) kids to go out there,” noted Leonard. “It’s
nice for the kids around here.”
Leonard, who began taking kids out to Minnesota three years ago with Acton-Boxboro’s Bob Lavin and Hingham’s Tony Mussina after USA’s National Coach-in-Chief Section Director Mike McMillan explained the advantages of a Minnesota showcase to the group.
“He (McMillan) told us how they do things out in Minnesota. There’s a lot of showcases to promote kids,” said Leonard, who joked about how at Peabody he is always losing kids to prep hockey programs, whether it’s St. John’s Prep, St. Mary’s, Bishop Fenwick or Malden Catholic.