LAWRENCE — Colin Soucy, from time to time, still finds himself looking up into the stands during games for the face of his biggest fan, the man he looked to for encouragement for so many years.
“My dad was at every single one of my games for 13 years,” said Soucy. “If I made a save I would look up into the crowd and see him cheering. I wish more than anything that he could be here with me. But I know he is watching down on me.”
This winter, Soucy has taken the reins as the starting goalie for red-hot Central Catholic, starring in net for the squad that is 9-2-2 and ranked No. 5 in the state.
With each performance, good or bad, Soucy draws on the strength he gained from his father, lifelong North Andover resident Fred Soucy, who passed away in Oct. 2010 at 50-years-old following a three-year battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
“I think about my father every night,” said Soucy, a junior. “It was so tough to lose him when I was just 13-years-old. But it has been a great motivation for me. I watched me dad work so hard through the cancer and beat it, so it means I can battle through anything that has comes against me and I can beat it.”
It was from his father, who served 28 years as a member of the North Andover police department, that Colin learned his love of hockey.
“My dad played hockey in high school but said he wasn’t very good,” said Soucy with a smile. “But he loved the game. We would talk about everything. Every time I made a save from squirts he would cheer. He would keep track of all of my saves and we would keep stats.”
While he coached his son in baseball from T-ball on, Fred kept his distance in hockey, providing mainly moral support, cheering loudly as his son emerged as a star in net.
But trips to the rink became far more challenging when Fred was diagnosed with leukemia in the summer of 2008, eventually undergoing a bone marrow treatment.
“He would have to wear a mask and gloves and stand away from everyone else after the transplant,” said Colin’s mother Allison. “Be he did his best to get to every game, even if he had to watch from afar. A love of sports is just one of the things Fred and Colin shared. They had quite a connection.”
For a time, it seemed Soucy had won his battle with cancer, even returning to work for the North Andover police.
“After a couple of years, he was in remission and done with his treatments,” said Colin. “And when he went back to work it was great. But then he started to have complications with his liver because of the treatments.”
The combination of treatments and medication had done irreparable damage to Fred’s liver.
“He had cirrhosis of the liver which was causing fluid to build up in his body,” said Allison. “While he was waiting to see if he was a candidate for a transplant he passed away.”
While hockey could have served as a sad reminder of his loss, the sport he shared with his father instead turned into a source of strength for Colin.
“Colin is very quiet and very stoic,” said Allison, who also grew up in North Andover and met Fred after college. “He doesn’t talk much, but he shows how he feels through his actions. He shows it by working hard and doing everything he can. He wants so much to make his father proud and his family proud. Colin is a lot like his father. He is very humble. He wants to do what is best. There is so much of Fred in him. Hockey was special to both of them.”
After playing JV hockey for Central Catholic as a freshman, Soucy moved on to play a year of junior hockey for the Valley Junior Warriors before deciding to return to the Raiders this winter.
“Fred always wanted Colin to play high school hockey at Central Catholic,” said his mother. “He really liked the school and hockey program. We, of course, wish Fred could be here to see this. It is hard, but I am very glad he is doing what he is doing.”
Soucy earned the starting job for the Raiders in the preseason, and in his debut notched an 18-save shutout against Westford. He has been in net for all 13 of the Raiders’ games, delivering a 1.85 goals-against average and victories over archrival Andover and New Hampshire favorite Salem.
“After everything he has been through he is really an amazing kid,” said Central coach Mike Jankowski. “He works so hard and has come so far. I can’t imagine where we would be without him. I know there are 24 kids and five coaches that are sure happy he came back.”
His best performance came against reigning Super 8 finalist St. John’s Prep, when he made 27 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Eagles, currently ranked the No. 6 team in the state.
“After we beat St. John’s Prep I thought, ‘I wish my dad was here to see that,’” said Colin. “But my mom and brother (Alec, a freshman at UMass Lowell) are here to support me. I have had a great time with the guys, and being around this team has been a special experience.”
Watching Colin star for the Raiders has proven a tremendous experience for the entire Soucy family, and has continued the strong bond between father and son.
“Colin truly has his own connection to Fred,” said Allison. “He may have a (ritual) he goes through before every game, but he doesn’t mention it. But he thinks about his dad, and he is fulfilling his dream of playing hockey. He just keeps working hard and doing what he has to do, and that is something he and Fred certainly had in common.”
1. Central Catholic 9-2-2
2. Salem 9-2-2
3. Londonderry 8-2-1
4. Brooks 8-3-1
5. Pinkerton 6-4-3
Honorable mention: North Reading (7-4), Amesbury-Whittier (6-6-4)
Hear his story
For video of Central Catholic goalie Colin Soucy telling his story, and highlights of his play in net, visit eagletribune.com/sports.