Former NEPSAC Athletes Turn Olympic Dreams Into Reality
By BOB YORK
During their time spent competing under the banner of the New England Prep School Athletic Council, the names sewn across the front of their jerseys to signify whom they were playing for were rarely the same, as were the colors of their jerseys.
Those disparities are history now, however, as their uniforms have recently undergone some alterations. Today, they all read the same across the front: USA; and they are all identical in color: Red, White and Blue. When the Olympic Winter Games begin on February 8, in PyeongChang, South Korea, there will be over 20 former NEPSAC athletes pinching themselves as they stand on the doorstep of turning life-long dreams into reality.
The seven former NEPSAC skaters who earned their way onto this year’s USA Men’s Olympic Hockey Team roster are: Chris Bourque, Cushing Academy (04); Broc Little, Cushing Academy (07), Ryan Donato, Dexter School (15); Mark Arcobello, Salisbury School (06); Noah Welch, St. Sebastian’s (01), Bob Sanguinetti, Lawrenceville School (06) and Chad Kolarik, Deerfield Academy (02).
The six skaters who will be striving to bring home some Gold for the USA Women’s Olympic Hockey Team are: Kacey Bellamy, Berkshire School (05); Kendall Coyne, Berkshire School (11); Cayla Barnes, New Hampton School (17); Meghan Duggan, Cushing Academy (06); Hilary Knight, Choate Rosemary Hall School (07) and Emily Pfalzer, Nichols School, (11). Phoebe Staenz, Choate Rosemary Hall School (13) will be representing her home country of Switzerland.
Two former NEPSAC standouts have also made these hockey rosters via the coaching ranks. Scott Young, who played his prep hockey at St. Mark’s School (85), is an assistant on the men’s team, while Paul Mara, a Belmont Hill School product (96), is assisting the women’s squad. A pair of Deerfield Academy graduates, meanwhile, Katie Guay (01) and Jessica Leclerc (04), will serve as referees during the women’s tournament games. Erika Lawler, a graduate of Cushing Academy (05), will serve as an NBC in-studio analyst for the women’s tournament games.
Anna Drew, a New Hampton School grad (11), will contest for a medal in the half-pipe, and four Gould Academy alumni are also headed to headed to the Winter Olympics with the US Ski Team: Troy Murphy (10), Freestyle Moguls, Men’s Alpine Head Coach Sasha Rearick (95), Men’s Alpine Technical Coach Parker Gray (97), and forerunner for the Snowboard Cross Event, Mike Lacroix (16).
Here’s a look at the former NEPSAC players who are now members of the Olympic men’s hockey team:
Chris Bourque proved to be one of most prolific scorers in the storied history of Cushing Academy boys’ hockey. While playing just two years for Cushing, the son of NHL Hall of Famer and former Boston Bruin All-Star defenseman Ray Bourque, rang up 147 points in 61 games on 68 goals and 79 assists.
That propensity for scoring that allowed the diminutive 5-7, 174-pound Bourque to be the 33rd player chosen in the 2004 draft by the Washington Capitals has remained with him throughout the years. At Cushing, he averaged nearly 2.5 points per game and although he has had some stints in the NHL — with the Caps, Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins – the majority of his 14-year professional career has been spent in the American Hockey League.
Bourque has spent nine seasons with the Hershey Bears of the AHL and received word earlier this year that he had been named to the league’s 2018 All-Star Game which marks the sixth time he has been selected as a league All-Star. Through 44 games this season, he has chalked up 42 points on 12 goals and 30 assists. Through 11 seasons in the AHL he has proven to be one of the league’s all-time point producers, posting 679 points in 696 games. That total came on 230 goals and 449 assists.
Broc Little proved to be another talented scorer who turned a two-year career at Cushing Academy into what must have seemed like a lifetime for opposing goaltenders. While skating for the Penguins, Little averaged 1.9 points per outing, netting 129 points in 68 games. Those points came off 79 goals and 50 assists.
Yale was the next step for Little, where he once again, averaged over a point per game throughout a four-year career. In 131 games for the Bulldogs, he produced 142 points on 72 goals and 70 assists. During his seven seasons since leaving Yale, Little has spent four years in the Swedish Hockey League, where he chalked up 84 goals and 97 assists for 181 points in 205 games. This winter, prior to making the Olympic team, Little was competing in the Swiss National League, where he had produced 35 points via 21 goals and 14 assists for 35 points.
Ryan Donato is the third youngest player to qualify for this year’s Olympic squad but despite his youthfulness, he brings an experienced scoring touch to the games. In helping lead Dexter School to three Elite Eight tourney berths during his four-year stay there, Donato, who played for his uncle, Dan, at Dexter, produced 227 points there, registering 98 goals and 129 assists in 115 games for an impressive 1.97 points-per-game average.
Donato, who now skates for his father, Ted, at Harvard University, has continued to light the lamp on the collegiate level as well. As he enters his Olympic break, the 2014 Boston Bruins draft pick (56th overall) leads the Crimson in scoring with 29 points on 20 goals and nine assists. Overall, during his first two-and-one-half seasons at Harvard, Donato has tallied 90 points on 54 goals and 36 assists.
Mark Arcobello has proven to be one of the premier prep school players to ever lace up a pair of skates in the State of Connecticut – and he played at Salisbury School for just one season. It may have been the three years he spent at Fairfield Prep, a Jesuit high school in Fairfield, Conn., prior to his stop at Salisbury that gave the school a sign of what was to come.
During Arcobello’s three years at Fairfield, he helped lead the school to state titles during his sophomore and junior seasons, was named to the Div. I All-State team both years and was voted Conn. Player of the Year as a junior. Then, he opted to spend his senior year playing for the Crimson Knights. All Arcobello did that winter was help lead Salisbury to a 25-1-2 record and a New England Prep School championship by leading the team in scoring with 53 points on 28 goals and 25 assists.
Arcobello’s next step took him to Yale, where a four-year career with the Bulldogs produced one ECAC championship, plus a career point total of 116 on 49 goals and 67 assists. Since then, he has spent eight seasons jumping mainly between the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League. His NHL appearances have seen him suit up for a total of 139 games for such teams as the Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins Arizona Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs. While playing on that level, Arcobello has registered 24 goals and 29 assists for 53 points. His time spent in the AHL has spanned 237 games, during which he has chalked up 220 points on 85 goals and 135 assists.
His last two seasons have been spent skating for Bern in the Swiss National League. Last year, Arcobello was one of the team’s leading scorers with 25 goals and 30 assists for 55 points. This season, he had accumulated 44 points on 16 goals and 28 assists prior to leaving for the Olympics.
Noah Welch solidified the St. Sebastian’s blue-line crew during the two years he bolstered the Arrows’ defense and bid goodbye to the program his senior year by helping it capture the 2001 New England championship, as he chipped in 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points during that pennant drive. Later that year, the Pittsburgh Penguins used the 54th selection of the NHL Draft to claim the 6-4, 220-pound, two-way defenseman.
Prior to making his NHL debut with the Penguins, however, Welch played four years of hockey at Harvard University, where he was elected team captain his senior year. During his time with the Crimson, he was a part of two ECAC championship teams and produced 76 points via 23 goals and 53 assists.
Since making his debut with the Penguins during the 2005-2006 season, Welch has also linked up with the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Atlanta Thrashers for four goals and five assists in 75 games. For the past seven seasons, he has competed for Vaxjo of the Swedish Hockey League, where he has registered 28 goals and 81 assists for 109 points in 295 games.
Bob Sanguinetti has had long road to this winter’s Olympic Games and it began at Lawrenceville School where the offensive-minded defenseman culminated a prep school career that resulted in the New York Rangers taking him with the 21st overall pick in he 2006 NHL Draft.
While Sanguinetti ended up playing just five games for the Rangers, he suited up 40 times for the Carolina Hurricanes. The majority of time during his 14-year career has been spent in the American Hockey League where he has chalked up 378 games and the Ontario Hockey League, where he has played 263 games. Combined, Sanginetti has produced 437 points via 127 goals and 310 assists.
Chad Kolarik spent just one season (2001-2002) at Deerfield prior to moving up to the U.S. National Development Program’s Under-17 Team where he posted 14 goals and 10 assists in just 21 games. From there, it was on to the United States Hockey League, scoring 45 points on 19 goals and 26 assists in 54 games, then a productive four-year stay at the University of Michigan, chalking up 174 points on 78 goals and 96 assists.
With the exception of a two-game stint with the Columbus Blue Jackets and four games with the New York Rangers, the bulk of Kolarik’s time spent in the minors has been in the American Hockey League, where he has notched 98 goals and 111 assists for 209 points in 277 games. His last five years have been spent on European rosters in Sweden and Germany where he has logged 83 points the last two seasons for Mannheim on 47 goals and 36 assists.
Scott Young, an assistant coach on the men’s team, showed off the scoring prowess that would help earn him a pair of Stanley Cup rings – with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991) and the Colorado Avalanche (1996) – by netting 28 goals and 41 assists in just 23 games for St. Mark’s during the 1984-85 season.
The Hartford Whalers made him the 11th overall pick in the 1985 NHL Draft, but opted for a two-year tune up at Boston University, where he scored 65 points on 31 goals and 34 assists in 71 games. In addition to the Whalers, Penguins and Avalanche, Young also spent time with the Quebec Nordiques, Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. In total, Young skated in 1,181 NHL games and collected 757 points for his efforts on 342 goals and 415 assists.
Following his playing days, Young’s coaching career ironically began at St. Mark’s as well, as he tutored at his alma mater from 2010 to 2013 and posted four winning seasons. In 2014, he returned to his other alma mater, BU, where he served as an assistant coach for three years. Then, in 2017, it was back to Pittsburgh, where he was named director of player development.
Here’s a look at the former NEPSAC players who will take part in women’s Olympic hockey:
Cayla Barnes will be the youngest player on this year’s Red, White and Blue women’s roster, as she turned 18 in January. Nevertheless, she has already built up a lengthy resume at New Hampton School. Last year alone, Barnes wrapped up a tune-up for a career at Boston College by being named as the NEPSAC Division I Player of the Year after helping lead the Huskies to their first-ever Division I championship.
Barnes, who completed her career at New Hampton with 155 points in 112 games via 42 goals and 103 assists, was recognized as a three-time NEPSAC All-Star and was a three-time USA Today prep All-American. In 2017 she became the only player to ever win three consecutive International Ice Hockey Federation gold medals with the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team.
Hilary Knight will be seeking a Gold Medal this month to go along with the Silver Medals she has captured during the 2010 and 2014 Games and her success on the International stage shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone who had followed her career at Choate Rosemary Hall. The two-time Founders League MVP and two-time Choate Athletic Award recipient finished her career at the school with 210 points on 143 goals and 67 assists. One-third of those points came during her senior season when she chalked up 73 points with 53 goals and 20 assists.
Knight spent the next four years at the University of Wisconsin where she helped the Badgers win a pair of national championships. The three-time All-WCHA first-team selection finished her career at Wisconsin with 262 points on 143 goals and 119 assists. She turned professional in 2012 when she was drafted fourth overall by the Boston Blades and helped lead the team to the CWHL championship that season. In 2015 she moved to the Boston Blades of the National Women’s Hockey League and finished her first year there as the league’s scoring champion with 33 points on 15 goals and 18 assists. Her five years in the two leagues have seen her tally 110 points on 52 goals and 58 assists.
Meghan Duggan is the captain of this year’s USA Women’s Olympic Hockey Team and wearing a ‘C’ on her jersey is nothing new. During her storied career at Cushing Academy, she was named captain of the hockey, soccer and lacrosse teams her senior year. The four-year class president was also a three-year recipient of the school’s Bette Davis Award. The award, which is named after the movie actress, who attended Cushing, is presented annually to the top female athlete in her class.
This will mark the third time Duggan has participated on the Olympic level and will be her second in which she has served as captain. During her two previous appearances, she has helped lead her team to a pair of Silver-Medal finishes. She has also been a member of seven straight USA squads that have won gold at the World Championships, as well as six Four Nations Cup titles.
On the professional level, Duggan has played with the Boston Blades and the Boston Pride and helped capture a pair of Isobel Cups. Prior to turning professional, she skated at the University of Wisconsin for four years, where she produced 238 points on 108 goals and 130 assists in 159 games.
Kendall Coyne spent just one season at the Berkshire School but she made the most of it. In just 25 games, Coyne rang up 55 goals and 22 assists for 77 points and for her efforts she was named the New England Division I Player of the Year, as well as the Bears’ MVP.
This will be Coyne’s second trip to the Olympics, as she came away with a Silver Medal in 2014 in Sochi. She also has been a part of six International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships and five Four Nations titles.
Her highly decorated collegiate career, which saw her win the 2016 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the nation’s outstanding female collegiate hockey player, took place at Northeastern University, where she registered 141 goals and 108 assists for 249 points to become the Huskies’ all-time leader in goals and points.
As for her professional career, Coyne played for the Minnesota Whitecaps, an independent women’s team during the 2016-17 season.
Kacey Bellamy, a veteran of the 2010 and 2014 Games, which the United States captured Silver Medals during both, will serve as an alternate captain during this winter’s Games.
During Bellamy’s outstanding career at Berkshire School, where she served as team captain her senior year, she, like Coyne, was named the New England Division I Player of the Year, as well as the team’s MVP following her final season as a prep skater.
The standout defenseman has helped her mates ring up seven Gold-Medal performances during International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships, as well as a half-dozen Four Nations Cup championships. In seven seasons on the professional level Bellamy has played a key roll in helping the Boston Pride and Boston Blades to league titles.
Following her graduation from Berkshire, Bellamy played at the University of New Hampshire for four years and closed out her career with the Wildcats as the third most productive blue liner in the school’s history as she accumulated 107 points on 27 goals and 80 assists in 143 games. She earned All-Hockey East laurels her sophomore through senior seasons and was selected to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team her freshman year.
Emily Pfalzer will be marking her first visit to the Olympic Games, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a seasoned veteran on the international stage, nor does it mean she isn’t familiar with visiting the medal platform. The former Nichols School standout has three International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship titles already on her resume, as well as three Four Nations Cup crowns.
Professionally, Pfalzer has been a member of the Buffalo Beauts for only two years, but was named captain of the team her rookie season, then helped her squad capture the NWHL’s Isobel Cup her second year. Prior to turning pro, she played four years at Boston College. Her senior year, she was named a first-team All-American and first team Hockey East All-Star. Pfalzer earned All-Hockey East laurels as a sophomore and junior and made its All-Rookie Team as a freshman.
Paul Mara will serve as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, the same position the former Belmont Hill star filled for the National Team during a two-game series against Canada in December 2016.
The former seventh overall pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1997 NHL draft, got his start at Belmont Hill, where, despite playing defense, he chalked up 60 points in 56 games on 23 goals and 37 assists. He then competed two years in the Ontario Hockey League before reaching the NHL. During an 11-year career there, which also included stints with the Phoenix Coyotes, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadians and Anaheim Ducks, Mara played in 734 games, netting 64 goals and 64 assists for 253 points.
Katie Guay, who will serve as a referee for this winter’s Olympics, culminated a productive four-year career at Deerfield Academy by earning All-New England prep school honors following her senior season. The sharp-shooting forward then moved on to Brown University for another four-year career, during which was named the team’s MVP as a sophomore and as a senior. She was also named the winner of the Panda Award, which is annually presented for team spirit, sportsmanship and dedication.
Her name resides atop the school record book in two categories, as she shares the mark for most games played in a career (128) and Most Goals in a Game (5). During those 128 games, she posted 69 points on 29 goals and 40 assists.
Guay, the first woman to referee Division I men’s hockey games on a regular basis, is one of seven Americans among the 47 one-ice officials from 13 different countries to be selected to work the women’s Olympic ice hockey tournament.
Jessica Leclerc is one of just four Americans selected to serve as on-ice officials for this year’s Olympic women’s hockey tournament –and the only linesman from the U.S. chosen. The Deerfield Academy grad, who played four years of hockey for the Big Green, began officiating youth league games when she was 12 years old.
Leclerc, who played four years of hockey at Utica College and was voted team captain her junior and senior years, officiates both men’s and women’s games at the NCAA Division III level, as well as a number of National Women’s Hockey League contests. In fact, she tuned up for her Olympic debut last year by working the quarterfinal and semifinal round games of the IIHF Women’s World Championships as well as the bronze-medal game between Finland and Germany.
Erika Lawler, a former standout for the Cushing Academy girls’ hockey program and a member of the USA women’s squad that won a silver medal at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, will be serving as a studio analyst for the 2018 women’s hockey tournament. She won’t even have to leave the country to do so, either. Lawler will be based at NBC’s Stamford, Conn., studios and will be working with former Boston Bruin Anson Carter and Tessa Bonhomme, a former Olympic gold medal winner with the Canadian women’s team.
The former three-time winner of the Bette Davis Award, which is annually presented to the top female athlete in her class, moved on to the University of Wisconsin, where she helped the Badgers win three NCAA titles in four years She finished her career there as the third leading scorer in school history with 174 points. She ranks second in career assists with 19, while she is seventh in goals with 55. In addition to her silver-medal performance in the 2010 Olympics, Lawler helped the U.S. women to a pair of gold medals during World Championship play and a Four Nations Cup title.
In addition to the former NEPSAC athletes representing Team USA, Pheobe Staenz, a 2013 Choate graduate, will be on the ice representing Switzerland. Staenz, a 2014 Bronze Medalist, played for Yale University and was named Rookie of the Year by U.S. College Hockey Online and The Hockey Writers in her Freshman season. She was the Division 1 Player of the Year in girls' prep school hockey at Choate and played tennis in her post graduate year.
Here’s a look at the former NEPSAC athletes who are members of the US Ski Team:
Anna Drew will be taking part in her second Winter Olympic Games. The former New Hampton School standout was a member of the inaugural Olympic half-pipe ski team the U.S. assembled for the 2014 Games in Sochi, where she debuted with a ninth-place finish.
Drew has also competed in two World Championships, her best finish there coming in 2017 when she wound up just missing the podium, having to settle for a fourth-place finish .She posted a bronze medal in the super-pipe competition of the 2016 X Games and registered a bronze medal in five trips to the FIS World Cup Championships.
Troy Murphy got his start in freestyle skiing at Gould Academy and all the twists and turns a competitor must undertake in that sport has led him directly to Mount Olympus. This month, the Bethel, Maine, native will make his Olympic debut for the Red, White and Blue at the Winter Games.
Murphy nearly made the trip to the Sochi Games four years ago, as he came out of nowhere to post a pair of fifth-place finishes during the final weeks of the season to finish strong, but failed to make the final cut. He has a pair of World Championship competitions under his belt, finishing 11th in dual moguls in 2017 and 11th in moguls in 2015. Throughout 2016, Troy battled injuries but still earned two top-ten finishes on the World Cup. In 2017, Troy rallied with six top-ten finishes and earned his first World Cup podium taking third place in China. Going into the Olympics, he is ranked 12th in the world, following his 14th-place finish at Mont-Tremblant – the last World Cup event before the Olympics.
Sasha Rearick is in his sixteenth year working with the U.S. Ski Team and in his tenth year as the Men’s Alpine Head Coach. Rearick is responsible for coaching the entire US Men’s Alpine Team, including Downhill, Giant Slalom, Slalom, and Super G.
During his tenure, Rearick has coached some of the top men’s alpine skiers in the world, like Ted Ligety and Bode Miller. He has coached in three Winter Olympic Games, including two as head coach, where his teams have amassed seven Olympic medals, including three in Sochi, Russia.
Rearick joined the U.S. Ski Team coaching staff after the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, UT. He coached at the men’s World Cup and Europa Cup level, serving as Europa Cup head coach during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. He then served as the technical head coach for two seasons before assuming the men’s head coach role in the spring of 2008.
He began his coaching career at Monarch Ski Area while in college at Western State Colorado University and was an instructor at the renowned French Ski School in Tignes for a year. He also coached for three years at Green Mountain Valley School in Vermont.
While at Gould Academy, Rearick skied under former Head Alpine Coach Tim Lavalle and current Director of On Snow Programs Kurt Simard. Rearick came to Gould as a junior, and it was only then, after spending most of his athletic career on the lacrosse and football fields, that he started to focus on ski racing. He quickly realized that becoming a World Cup skier wasn’t in the cards, but he fell in love with the world of alpine ski racing at Gould. “[It’s] the outdoors, the international travel, the in-depth sports science that’s associated with skiing from the physical side and mental side, the geology…it all attracted me as a sport that I was passionate about working, teaching, and coaching in,” says Rearick.
Parker Gray is the Men’s World Cup Technical Assistant Coach for the U.S. Ski Team. Before joining the coaching staff of the U.S. Ski Team he was a Men’s Alpine Coach for Gould for over 6 years. For athletes and coaches, it is more of a lifestyle than a job. “It is important to get your time on snow at the high school age, but it’s also important to be involved in other sports to develop well-rounded skills,” says Gray. “Skiing is really hard to train for because any given run is only about two minutes long, so you’ve got to train in additional ways to improve. Athletes can definitely find all of that at Gould.”
Gray, a native of Newry, began skiing with Gould as a member of the eighth grade Winter Term Program and by his ninth grade year was competing in all four events: Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super G, and Downhill. Gray had quick success and progressed to compete at the USSA level, FIS level, NorAm, the US Nationals, and Junior Olympics by the time he was in eleventh grade.
This will be Gray’s first Olympics as a coach on the US Ski Team.
Mike Lacroix has been selected to be a forerunner for the Snowboard Cross Event during the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Lacroix was a top SBX racer while at Gould and continues to train with Team Park City in Utah with several other Gould alumni.Recently, Mike has competed in two World Cup Events in Val Thorens, France, and Montafon Austria. At Val Thorens, he was 76th coming into the race and moved up to slots to place 74th. In Montafon, he was slated 76th but moved up almost 20 spots to 59th for the day. Lacroix will return to the North American Cup Series to train and compete as part of Park City Ski and Snowboard Team and look to dominate the NorAms and gain experience to make a run for the 2022 U.S. Olympic team.
See Gould Academy's Blog for more information, including photos and videos, of their four alumni heading to the 2018 Winter Olympics.
In addition to the former NEPSAC athletes representing Team USA, Connor Wilson, a 2013 Eaglebrook School graduate, will be representing South Africa. The only athlete to represent Team South Africa, Willson will carry the flag in the opening ceremonies. He will compete in Men's Giant Slalom and Slalom. Wilson was a national junior champion in 2014 and national men's champion in 2016 and 2017.
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