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VJW All-Star Colin Blackwell Continues to Shine On & Off the Ice

blackwell_colin_sjp.jpgColin Blackwell, a former standout player for the Valley Jr Warriors program, recently capped off an outstanding high school career with St. John's Prep where he led his team to a Super 8 Championship final against Malden Catholic. Despite losing in overtime, Blackwell - one of 17 former Warrior players who competed in that final game - was recognized for both his play and sportsmanship.

As explained below in an article published by the North Andover Citizen, Blackwell went out of his way after the game to find the puck and give it to a member of the Malden Catholic team. He did so in order for Brendan Collier - a Malden Catholic player and Colin's longtime friend - to have that puck as a memento. After all it was Collier who netted the game-winning goal for Malden Catholic It was a gesture that was not only greatly appreciated by Collier and his family... but one that epitomizes the type of player and person that Colin Blackwell has become.

Earlier this year, Blackwell announced that he would be taking his game to Harvard University next fall. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Blackwell spent most of his developmental years playing for the Warriors for coaches such as Peter King and Mike Holubowich and helped his teams advance to USA Hockey Nationals in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

“It is hard to find a kid who not only has the skill and the smarts but also the heart to take his game to the next level,” said Fred Devereaux, the VJW director of player development who has coached Blackwell for years as part of the program’s weekly skills-development program. “His attitude is what makes him a complete package and what sets him apart from the rest.”

The deep sense of appreciation goes both ways. After two years of learning the game through the North Andover Youth Hockey program (he continued on with the NAYH through the 2003-04 season), Blackwell first joined the Warriors program in 2002 as part of King’s Squirt Minor Elite team. Years of dedication by both Blackwell and the Warriors coaching staff (which included his father Jim Blackwell as an assistant) resulted in a hockey resume that rivals the nation’s top prospects.

Looking back, Blackwell was part of a ’93 Elite team that was one of the first to compete on a national level and – much like Blackwell – many of the players have recently committed to top Division 1 schools. Included in that impressive list of VJW alumni are Chris Eiserman (UMass Lowell), Mike Vecchione (UNH) and Alex Gacek (Miami University - Ohio), to name just a few. Over a four-year period from 2003 through 2006, the Warriors captured four straight Massachusetts Hockey Select League Championships and posted more than 100 straight wins in league play.

The Warriors have been honored to have Colin Blackwell as one of their own for so many years. Harvard is lucky to have him.

Here is a copy of that North Andover Citizen article. Congratulations and best of luck to Colin!

An Eagle Stands Tall: St. John’s Prep senior captain Colin Blackwell of North Andover
By Josh Zywien/Wicked Local North Andover

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.


Photo Caption - Credit Jon Gagnon

INDEX
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VJW Star Chris Kreider Named to 2011 U.S. National Team
Success Measured - By Mike Lynch
Ram Tough - By Mike Lynch
Apr 2, 11
VJW All-Star Colin Blackwell Continues to Shine On & Off the Ice
VJW Junior B's Tyler Sifferlin Passes Freshman Test
The VJW Super Six - Eiserman, Blackwell, Irving and Kulevich
17 Former VJW Players Compete in 2011 Super 8 Finals
Former VJW Standout Joe Cucci Leads Merrimack to NCAA Tournament
Rebel With a Cause - By Mike Lynch
VJW '01 Elites Deliver Impressive NEHL Championship Victory
VJW '97 Elites Cap Off Another Impressive Season With an NEHL Title
King of the Hill - By Mike Lynch
VJW '97 Elites Capture 2011 New England Hockey League Title
VJW Junior A Season Comes to An End; Falls in EJHL Quarterfinals
VJW Junior A Team Advances to EJHL Quarterfinals
VJW Junior A Team Skates to Key Playoff Win over Revolution
VJW '99 Selects Raise Money For a Family Cause
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Former VJW Standout Chris Kreider Named Beanpot MVP
Darcy, Silk Help Team USA Win 2011 Vlad Dzurilla Tournament
VJW Players Recognized by the New England Hockey League
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VJW Accepting Coaches Applications for 2011-2012 Season
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VJW Junior A Team Wins Two Out of Three During Key League Weekend
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VJW Mite Major Elites Score 2nd Place Finish at JWK Tournament
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VJW '96 Elite Players Continue to Lead on High School Stage
Sarig, Braun, Heinze & Nazarian Selected as Junior All Stars
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VJW '99 Selects Ring in the New Year at the 2011 Bell Capital Cup
Chris Kreider Named Player of the Game for Team USA
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Cameron Darcy Leads U.S. at World Under-17 Hockey Challenge
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VJW Alumni In the News - UMass-Dartmouth's Valley Fivesome
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Anthony Aresco & Jack Cronin Earn NEHL Weekly Honor
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VJW Teams Perform Well at 2010 Bauer Invitational
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'96 Elites Jump Out to an Impressive Start
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Warrior Teams Off to a Fast and Fun Start
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AAA SuperSeries Comes to Haverhill in 2010
VJW '99 Selects Make a Difference On and Off the Ice