- Scott Barboza, ESPN Staff Writer
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The dog days of summer are upon us, but local rinks are still hopping through August with plenty of great tournaments going on in and around the Boston area.
So we thought we’d take the opportunity to catch up with some of the happenings of local skaters during the offseason, along with a smattering of other notes collected in our notebook during the last month or so.
CLEARING THE CREASE
Bailey MacBurnie burst onto the MIAA hockey scene last season, helping lead St. Mary’s of Lynn to a second seed in the Super 8 tournament. All the while, the Beverly native backstopped the Spartans with a measly 1.66 GAA, placing him among the state leaders.
During the summer, MacBurnie has skated with the New England Thrashers. He and his Thrasher teammates had a solid showing in the recent Chowder Cup College Open championship, finishing fourth in a field of 56 teams while facing teams that largely were comprised of older players.
We caught up with the sophomore netminder to talk about his offseason, how practicing yoga has helped his game and his upcoming season at Brewster Academy:
Q: What kinds of things do you do in the offseason away from the rink to keep you sharp for the upcoming season?
A: “I’ve started doing yoga, it’s my first year doing it. I go to classes at Merrimack College. And then I do on-ice work with Brian Daccord, who’s my goalie coach.”
Q: How do think yoga might help your game?
A: “I’ve found that it’s already made me more flexible. It definitely helps out and gets you in shape.”
Q: What other elements of your game have you wanted to work on this offseason?
A: “Puck handling, definitely. I want to be more confident playing the puck and quicker with making decisions with the puck. And skating, you can always be a better skater.”
Q: Your team had a great showing at the Chowder Cup recently. How did that team come together?
A : “I played with a lot of guys I knew, like [Central Catholic’s] Mike Kelleher, Lloyd Hayes, Zack Cote, Jake Donahue and [former St. Mary’s teammate] Jarrod Fitzpatrick. We had a good tournament. First, we played the Nordiques, beat them 3-1, then we played Mass Attack and beat them, 7-2, and then Team One, 4-2. We played some Canadian teams in the playoffs. We did well though, especially because we were playing a lot of teams that had older players. We thought we should’ve went further, but we were playing against teams that he players that were mostly 92s and 93s [birth dates] and we were mostly 95s.”
HERE AND THERE
On the rise: A bumper crop of New England prospects were scooped up earlier this summer during the NHL Draft and the region’s best have continued to crop up during the summertime months. Four players with New England roots were chosen for the U.S. Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp. Three of those players had their names called in the most recent draft, including goaltender Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine),defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (Charlestown) and forward Jimmy Vesey (North Reading). Former St. John’s Prep star and 2011 ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey Colin Blackwell (North Reading) also made the final cut for tournament play. Former Phillips Exeter standout and recent Tampa Bay Lightning draft choice Brian Hart was among those participating in camp practices at Lake Placid last week.
One to watch: Junior Robby Devaney helped Reading on a late-season Super 8 push last season, while leading the Rockets in scoring during the regular season. While catching Devaney play in both the Bay State Games and the Chowder Cup this summer, he looks like an early candidate for most improved player honorifics – if there were such an award. In the small sample size, he showed good speed, but also exhibited attention to detail, playing solid neutral zone defense in the summertime – something that’s usually missing from offseason tournaments. Of course, we all know how well those Rockets are coached defensively.
Comings and goings: One of the more telling aspects of summertime tournaments is often found just looking at team rosters. Players are often listed with their corresponding schools next to their name, and that can often signify changes in locales. One of the more prominent changes listed was that of former Billerica standout Ross Olsson. The Northeastern commit played at Williston Northampton last year, but will move to the USHL, joining the Lincoln Stars, the team that drafted him in May’s entry draft.