WILMINGTON — Steven Hines had his pregame speech prepared. He readied himself, walked into the St. John’s Prep hockey locker room ... and nearly broke down in tears.
There, sitting before him, were 25-odd young men wearing star-spangled red, white and blue hockey jerseys with military beige on the sleeves. The uniforms — being worn by the Eagles in honor of Hines’ late son, 1st Lt. Derek Hines — were a complete surprise to everyone outside the hockey program, worn specifically for this day.
“I did all I could not to break down,” confessed Hines, his son a former hockey captain at St. John’s Prep (Class of 1999) and the United States Military Academy at West Point who went on to join the 173rd Airborne Division. Tragically, the Newburyport native was killed in September 2005 in Afghanistan while conducting security operations.
The fifth annual Derek Hines Memorial Game was played at the Ristuccia Arena on Saturday afternoon between two of the state’s premier programs, St. John’s Prep and visiting BC High. In dedicating their performance to the Hines family, the host Eagles avenged an earlier loss to their foes from Dorchester while taking a commanding lead in the Catholic Conference title chase by earning a 3-2 victory.
“It’s an honor to wear this shirt for Derek,” said Prep captain Brian Pinho, who along with his father, Jim, helped design the special sweaters the team wore, depicting a waving flag covered with stars and the SJP insignia across it. “The least we could have done is win the game for him; I’m so glad we were able to.”
Third line left wing James Currier, the Prep’s offensive star with two second-period goals, including the game-winner, said it felt as good knowing the team was helping the Hines family and raising money to support the 1st Lt. Derek Hines Soldiers Assistance Fund (which provides financial assistance to Bay State military families who have incurred serious, career-ending or life-threatening injuries) as it did to get the actual win.