Malden Catholic grad off to fast start in Eastern Junior Hockey League
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Brendan Collier skatingstrong for Warriors
Brendan Collier has been hearing the “he’s-too-small-to-ever-make-it-big” chatter his whole life. No matter what he accomplishes, it never seems to go away.
Collier, a Charlestown native who starred on ice for four years at Malden Catholic, scoring one of the most memorable goals in recent Super 8 history to seal the program’s title in 2011, graduated from MC this past spring.
The fact that he even fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in the seventh round, and 143d overall, of the NHL Entry Draft in June was surprising to some, considering his reputation as one of the best high school players in the state. And prior to the draft, Bruins’ general manager Peter Chiarelli said Collier was flying “under the radar.”
Let the doubters doubt, Collier figures.
In 11 games with the Valley Jr. Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, Collier has the club out to its best start (7-2) in its 16-year history. He leads the team in scoring with five goals and six assists.
“I’ve heard that I’m too small for so long that it doesn’t even bother me,” said Collier, now 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, having gained 10 pounds since the Hurricanes drafted him and asked him to put on size. “I think people have a tendency of underestimating me.
“But for a short kid I have very wide hips and a great hockey body, so I can use my short stockiness to my advantage.”
Warriors coach Andy Heinze , whose brother Steve spent nine years skating the wing with the Bruins, says he’s been thoroughly impressed with Collier’s ability to translate his game from the high school level to the junior level so easily.
“His physical stature didn’t stand out, but he was always able to produce,” Heinze said. “I think sometimes the smaller guys might be a little quicker and have a lower center of gravity, and he uses that as more of an asset.”
Collier believes that with the newer style of play and officiating in the National Hockey League since the offsides rule was changed and the two-line pass was eliminated following the 2004-2005 lockout, hockey from the professional level down has become more of a “small-guy’s game.”
“The refs are calling a lot more of the clutching and grabbing,” he said. “So being able to use that is a huge advantage.”
Said Heinze, “I think it’s certainly the way the game is called these days, especially over the last three, four years. It’s become more of a skill game.”
Heinze said Collier has been able to make such a smooth transition into juniors because of his tremendous vision and feel for the game. The coach said he’s never seen Collier take a dangerous hit, and because he’s such a good skater, he’s still able to contribute on both ends of the ice.
Collier has also found success playing on the same line as former Malden Catholic teammate Ryan Fitzgerald , who forfeited his senior season at MC after a terrific three-year career, and Devin Tringale, who attended Lawrence Academy.
Heinze has no doubt Collier will be able to contribute at Boston University next winter.
“He’s just such a smart player, and he’s talented enough to score at this level, I would expect him to do the same at BU,” Heinze said. “He is that good.”
BU coach with a plan
Nancy Feldman is in her 18th season coaching the Boston University women’s soccer team. She knows what works and what doesn’t. But because of freshman Clare Pleuler (Gloucester High) and some other talented young players, Feldman decided to try something totally new this fall.
Rather than substitute out one or two players as others need rest throughout the game, Feldman created two lines of forwards that rotate in and out together, like making a change in hockey. The coach figured this wouldn’t take away from the starters’ chemistry and it would still provide Pleuler a chance to get on the field. The former four-year starter at Gloucester hasn’t disappointed.
Last weekend, Pleuler scored the game’s only goal in the 47th minute to give the Terriers a 1-0 win over Binghamton and clinch at least a share of the America East title.
“Clare has game,” Feldman said. “We saw that when we were recruiting her two years ago. Just the way she moves on the field, the way she glides — combine that with her technical ability and you could see potential for her to be a dominant player.”
Pleuler played mostly midfield in high school, but Feldman stuck her up top in an attempt to give her a better chance at finding playing time. And with the coach’s new rotation system, Pleuler has appeared in all 17 games and scored twice.Continued...