SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

December 21, 2012

Lessons from a pro

HAMILTON — Every young hockey player wonders how it feels to play like the pros.

After last night, players on the Beverly High hockey team don’t have to wonder any longer.

The Panthers were in some grizzly company last night as Boston Bruins assistant head coach Doug Houda made the trek down to the Johnson Rink on the Pingree School campus to show the Beverly boys a few drills.

After practice Houda and Eric Tosi — a Beverly High graduate and current manager of media relations for the Boston Bruins — presented Beverly High head coach Bob Gilligan with his own No. 66 Bruins sweater with his last name stitched onto the back.

For Gilligan, a lifelong Bruins fan who has battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma the past two years, the experience was one for the ages. Asked where this ranks among his fondest memories behind the bench, Gilligan couldn’t think of much that topped this.

“This is right at the top. No. 1 is that I’ve been able to coach the kids (and No. 2), it’s been huge to get into (state) tournament games. But to have (the Bruins) come in as an organization and do this on their own time it means a lot to me, growing up (a Bruins fan) as a young kid and going through what I’ve been through.

“It’s huge they’re doing things for the community,” Gilligan added moments after receiving his jersey. “It gives me a lift and it certainly gives the kids a lift. We are very fortunate.”

National Hockey League fans around the country are waiting to see if the 2012-13 season will be played at all, with the owners and players embroiled in a lockout. But with no NHL games currently being played, it gave Tosi the opportunity to give back to his former high school — and Houda was more than willing to help out.

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