Gaudet finds fit
at Salve Regina
Cam Gaudet hardly had himself convinced he was ready. Hockey East is the most competitive collegiate conference around, filled with some of the most talented players in North America, many between ages 21 and 24.
Gaudet was just 18. Even his older brother, Ross — who Cam says always had more skill — played a year with the Bridgewater Bandits between high school and his first season at Boston University.
Add to it that Cam, a lifelong forward from Burlington, spent his senior year at Austin Prep playing defense but would again be boomeranged back to his old position, and it seemed like a stretch.
But then, University of Massachusetts Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald told Gaudet he could do it.
“He gave me the opportunity and I jumped on it,” said the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Gaudet.
“It was something I wanted to do. I also was like, ‘What if I get hurt playing juniors?’ I had a chance so I wanted to take it.”
Gaudet has some lingering regret.
He played in just four games with the River Hawks during the 2010-2011 season, and McDonald resigned immediately afterward.
Norm Bazin , hired to replace the 10-year veteran, told Gaudet he was no longer needed.
“He said, ‘I’m going to bring in five or six of my recruits, so some of you guys are going to get cut next year,’ ” Gaudet recalled. “And I was one of those guys.”
Gaudet had done everything his coaches told him. He worked hard. He selflessly switched positions at a crucial point in his high school recruiting stage.
And he was ready to stay at UMass Lowell, even if he wasn't playing hockey, and forget about the past.
Then he got a phone call from Salve Regina coach Andy Boschetto .
The Seahawks had won just three combined games in two years. It was a Division 3 program.
Boschetto was casting a line without bait.
“Do you want to go somewhere that's already built and be just another guy,” the coach likes to say. “Or be a guy who, in 10 years from now, can say I was one of the reasons why Salve Regina turned around and is nationally ranked now?”
“He's a good recruiter,” he said of Boschetto.
“He could probably recruit anyone.”
It wasn't Division 1. But Gaudet wanted to skate again.
“Hockey players want to play hockey,” Boschetto said. “I think sometimes people are so, ‘D1 vs. D3.’ But we're playing some teams that could beat some D1 teams right now. We're not there yet, but there are other teams. Hobart is a team that could probably beat some Division 1 schools at the moment.”
Hobart beat Salve Regina 10-0 to open the season this winter, but behind Gaudet's seven goals, tied for second on the team, the Seahawks are 4-7-1 heading into the holiday break, with more victories than the last two seasons combined.
“He's got a very good head on his shoulders,” Boschetto said.
“He knows there are plenty of guys that have played Division 3 that have gone on to play pro hockey,” he said. “That's not saying NHL, but look at Chelmsford High where the Aucoin brothers went, and [Keith Aucoin] went from Norwich University to playing for the Capitals last year.
“It's not impossible. To say you're playing Division 3 and your hockey career is over with, that's not the case anymore. There are a lot of very good hockey players.”
Winters skates on, now for St. Anselm
Courtney Winters wasn't around to see her former St. Mary's girls' hockey teammates lose for the first time in four years after putting together a 100-game unbeaten streak that finally ended when Winters was a freshman at Saint Anselm College.
She's having a typical Courtney Winters season at St. Anselm, having scored four goals while leading the team with seven assists in its first 11 games.
The weird part was going back home this holiday break and watching St. Mary's (younger sister Brooke Bergeron is on the team) tie Woburn, 2-2, last week.
“It's good to watch, now that every team has a chance,” she said. “Obviously when you're on the team, you liked all the winning.”
Those spoiled Spartans. They were confident that they would win every game.
Then came payback.
For two years, Winters’ St. Anselm squad was handled by Norwich, “the St. Mary's of ECAC women's hockey,” as Winters described that team. Norwich, the top-ranked Division 3 team in the country, had a 44-game regular season win streak when the two teams met in mid-November.
“Now I know how everyone else felt,” she said.
Then Winters dished out two assists, including a game-tying helper with two minutes left to send the game to overtime, as St. Anselm won, 4-3.
“It was a good feeling, but we had nothing to lose," she said. “In high school I was stressed out every game. Any big rivalry game we could lose. It was a lot of pressure that I didn't realize at the time. It was an unspoken thing — a lot of people didn't like talking about because they thought it would jinx the streak.
“Now I'm much more relaxed.”
Salem race on Jan. 1
The Wicked Frosty Four Mile Road Race will be held on Jan. 1 at 10 a.m., beginning at Tavern in the Square in Salem. Proceeds benefit a local scholarship fund that provided four high school students with $1,500 scholarships last year.
Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at email@example.com.