METHUEN—As a top competitive cheerleader in her high school days, Methuen's Mackenzie (Morin) Rome had little time for ice hockey.
"My dad was a big Bruins fan, and my uncle coached hockey in Methuen, but I never even liked it," said Mackenzie. "But these days, I eat, sleep and breathe hockey, can't get enough of it."
She caught the hockey bug in 2007 when a friend introduced her to then-Worcester Shark Ashton Rome. Four months ago, she married into the game. And yesterday, she and Ashton got to show off for the hockey folks in the Merrimack Valley.
As a player on the American Hockey League champion Hershey Bears, Ashton, by tradition, gets to possess the famed Calder Cup trophy— the minor league version of the Stanley Cup — for two days.
There wasn't enough time to bring it to his home town of Nesbitt, Manitoba (pop. 1,500). So he brought it to his new home, Methuen.
"On Thursday, I have to FedEx it to a teammate in Ontario, but this is our home now, too, so it's great to have it here," said the 24-year-old Rome, who has played four years of minor league hockey. "The Calder Cup playoffs are a physical and mental grind, just like the Stanley Cup playoffs. You have to win four seven-game series. So it's pretty rewarding to be able to do something like this."
The AHL is the level of hockey right below the NHL. Rome, who was drafted at 18 by the Boston Bruins but didn't sign, was re-drafted by the San Jose Sharks at age 20.
He has competed at the ECHL and AHL levels over his pro career with the dream of making it to the NHL still burning strong. And recently, Mackenzie joined in that quest.