Devin Tringale overlooked, but maybe just for now
On a team with National Hockey League draft picks, in a league that contains projected NHL All-Stars, an undrafted, often-overlooked forward from Medford is scoring at a pace that rivals the best.
Devin Tringale had thought he’d done everything right leading up to last summer's NHL Entry Draft. He was the Independent School League MVP at Lawrence Academy, spent countless hours in the weight room, concentrated on playing two-way hockey, and earned a berth in the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game.
But by the time seven rounds had finished and 211 players had been selected, Tringale, who will play hockey at Harvard this fall, had yet to hear his name called.
The scouting reports continued to knock Tringale’s scoring talent, with HockeysFuture.com analyzing him as someone whose “offensive skills are not yet where they need to be to truly be an offensive threat.”
Through 37 games with the Valley Junior Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, Tringale is leading the team with 18 goals, including five game-winners, on top of 10 assists. He’s scored more goals than all but 11 other players in the EJHL.
“I think it bothered him because the players who had been selected locally, he felt he was right there,” said Warriors coach Andy Heinze .
“And I don’t disagree with him. I think potentially he could be a better pro than some of these guys with the way he plays. He keeps it simple, and knows how to play within a system.”
Tringale is usually described as a power forward, with a knack for two-way play and physicality.
And while he’s scored a good portion of his 18 goals this season on work ethic — grinding for loose pucks and positioning his body in front of the net for rebounds — he has scored plenty of the pretty ones, too, getting comfortable enough with his shot where he can pick corners while skating through the slot.
But there may be something many talent evaluators seem to be missing with the 6-foot, 195-pound winger.
There’s the phenomenon in sports that continues to build momentum: the underdog who rises from the clouds of doubt and outperforms the glittery stars.
The basketball player from Harvard who went undrafted and unnoticed helped the phenomenon resurface last year, as Jeremy Lin became a household name and an NBA point guard.
It’s too early to tell, but if Tringale’s past is any indication of his future and his determination and goals align, there could be another out-of-nowhere star ready to suit up for Harvard in the fall.
“Without a doubt in my mind, Devin can compete with just about anybody,” said John Needham , Tringale’s childhood friend and neighbor in Medford who plays with him on the Warriors. “His compete level is through the roof. He doesn’t get nervous. He just always wants to be the best one out there.
“He can compete wherever he is, knowing he’s never going to get outworked. He plays better with better people. He just loves it. He’ll be playing fine next year at Harvard. It won't faze him.”
Nothing has fazed Tringale yet. The snubbing in the NHL draft almost did. But it’s acted more like caffeine than tryptophan.
“That was definitely a huge disappointment,” he said. “I think the way I took it was that nothing is going to come easy. You kind of have to use that disappointment to fuel the fire, go out and have a great season and four years at Harvard.
“Even if you think you’re just as good as those guys [who were drafted], the scouts or someone in the stands might not think the same. So every single night you have to go out and prove you’re just as good as these guys,’’ he said.
“You kind of have to play with a chip on your shoulder after something like that. You have to prove to everyone you deserve it.”
Playing on a line with Malden Catholic graduates and NHL draftees Ryan Fitzgerald and Brendan Collier , Tringale “gets lost in the shuffle, but he's as good as they are if not a little better in some aspects,” Heinze said.
Since Fitzgerald went down with a concussion, Needham has taken his place. In six games playing with Tringale, Needham has scored five goals.
He scored five goals in 30 previous games.
If Tringale’s skill is being overlooked, his grit could drive him as far as the others, even if takes a little bit longer to get there.
Eventually maybe the scouting report will change. But for now, Tringale keeps getting compared to a sturdy pair of sneakers: He can be used anywhere.
Maybe that’s not so bad. Next step: Cambridge.
Casey Goll scores for SNH
Former St. Mary’s of Lynn captain Casey Goll (Winthrop) totaled two goals in 22 games as a defenseman for the men’s hockey team at Southern New Hampshire last season, his first at the university.
But he scored his third of the season to put the Penmen on the board against Stonehill last weekend in an eventual 5-3 come-from-behind win. Goll has three goals and five assists in 18 games.
Bentley’s Finn, Grassa
Winthrop’s Courtney Finn put together back-to-back double-doubles for the Bentley women’s basketball team (18-0), which entered Satur-day’s matchup at Southern Connecticut ranked second nationally in Division 2. Averaging 13.9 points per game, the 5-9 senior guard had 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 66-53 win over Adelphi, and 19 points and 11 boards in a 75-66 victory over New Haven. . . .
Jasper Grassa (Lynn Classical) has been racking up the points for the Bentley men’s basketball team (7-11), averaging 13.9 points per game. The junior scored at least 14 points in six of his last seven games, with 25 3-pointers. The Falcons feature 11 first- or second-year players.