Most were consoling, while others congratulated him on a great season. But one particular text message stood out. It was from Brendan Collier, the Malden Catholic junior forward who scored the game-winner to beat St. John’s Prep.
The message was simple: thank you.
See, after the game, Blackwell had noticed that the puck Collier had buried to win the elite tournament was resting unclaimed on the ice. So, he picked it up, skated over to the parents of Mike Vecchione — the Malden Catholic senior captain and one of Blackwell’s childhood friends — and asked that they made sure Collier got the puck.
“I just knew that if I had scored that goal, I would have loved to have that puck,” said Blackwell, who was named ESPN Boston’s Mr. Hockey and has already committed to play for Harvard University next winter. “You can be enemies on the ice, but once the game is over I’ve always been taught to respect your opponents.”
It certainly wasn’t a gesture intended to garner attention — quite the opposite, actually.
When he handed the Vecchione’s the puck, he did it quietly, and on his way to the locker room, still stunned from the loss.
“Honestly, I don’t know Brendan that well, but I know he’s a great guy, and it was a great shot, so he definitely deserved to have that as a reminder,” Blackwell said. “ After you play a game like the one we played, you just feel privileged to be a part of it. I thought it was the right thing to do.”
Blackwell didn’t necessarily expect to hear from Collier, nor did he believe he needed to be thanked.
Yet, the first of numerous text messages he received was from the Malden Catholic star.
“[Collier] didn’t have my number, so he had to go out of his way to find it,” Blackwell said. “He just said thank you, and mentioned how much it meant to him. I think that said a lot about him, too. He didn’t need to do that.”
If they don’t connect again until college, the two will be able to formally thank each other during a future Beanpot Tournament two or three years down the road. Collier has already committed to play hockey for Boston University, and could see Blackwell on the ice at the Garden again once he gets there with a year in juniors possibly in his future after high school.
“Hopefully, I can beat his team the next time around,” Blackwell said with a laugh. “I guess I might have a few more tries.”
For now, though, Blackwell will keep busy by trying to help the St. John’s Prep lacrosse team win a state title. Then, he’ll receive his official training regimen from the Harvard coaches to prepare for the 2011-12 collegiate season.
“It would have been icing on the cake to win the Super 8,” Blackwell said. “But I don’t regret anything about that game. It was two great teams, with a lot of great players, and somebody had to win. The atmosphere was unbelievable, and it’s something I’ll always keep with me.”
Thanks to Blackwell’s sportsmanship, Collier will have a more tangible reminder of that moment.