For decades, Boston area hockey fans puffed out their chests with pride.
We were the Hub of Hockey, the Mecca ... no matter what those clueless Minnesotans thought.
But unfortunately for the Greater Lawrence/Southern New Hampshire region, realistically we weren’t holding up our end of the bargain.
The numbers didn’t lie. The North Shore, the South Shore and metro Boston were producing bushels of talent, but frankly our area wasn’t.
Well, we’re making up for lost time. The recent NHL draft was a high point in area hockey history.
Pinkerton’s Zach Sanford was chosen 61st overall, a second-rounder by the Washington Capitals. He was the second highest selection in area history, just one spot behind BC Hall of Famer Steve Heinze of North Andover, who played in the NHL from 1992-03, mostly with the Bruins.
Then Ryan Fitzgerald of North Reading, Malden Catholic and the Valley Junior Warriors, one of two talented sons of former 18-year NHL winger Tom Fitzgerald. He was chosen in the fourth round by the hometown Bruins with the 120th overall pick.
In the sixth round, Brian Pinho of North Andover and St. John’s Prep was chosen by the Capitals with the 174th overall pick.
Three area high schoolers taken in the same draft had never happened before. Only three area high schoolers had been drafted the previous 13 years. Records are incomplete but quite possibly it was three in 19 years.
“It’s very cool. Very, very cool,” said Pinho. “I respect those kids a lot. It’s an honor to be drafted with them.”
Sanford, the 2012 Eagle-Tribune MVP, said, “It’s great. New England hockey is definitely underrated. As you can see, it produces some quality players.”
Kimball Union freshman George Sennott of North Andover tweeted after the draft, “All the locals getting drafted gets you to push it even harder. Truly an inspiration. Congrats to everyone who has been part of it.”