SALEM — Christmas break for Salem State’s men’s ice hockey senior Mark Macdonald, 22, of Norwell was short. Winter practice started up again on Dec. 28, followed by the team’s first tournament on Thursday and the Frozen Fenway game on Tuesday against the University of Massachusetts Boston.
“Hockey’s the sport that I’ve always revolved the schedule around,” said Macdonald. “You’re committed to the team from the middle of October to the beginning of March, and you’re with the same kids every day.”
Macdonald first picked up a hockey stick at age 4. He played on club teams until he enrolled at Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, where he played three years of varsity. He played one year of Midget AAA for the Boston Advantage Hockey club.
After graduating in 2009, he took a year off and played junior hockey for the Bridgewater Bandits. In 2010, he enrolled at Salem State as a finance major.
“The older I’ve gotten, the tougher it has been to balance hockey and school, but I know hockey has 100 percent helped me in my academics,” said Macdonald. “I think you become more productive by being an athlete in school, because you have to be.”
Macdonald has three hours of hockey practice every day, while also taking six classes at the university and doing an internship with the athletic department. He is unsure about his plans after college, but he wants to gain some work experience before going on to graduate school.
“It’s going to be a tough transition to stop training for hockey every day,” he said. “I’m hopefully going into a full-time job, but I also want to stay involved in the sport, maybe even coach part time.”