With the Reading High hockey team facing an early 2-0 deficit, Mike Thomson stepped forward. Less than two minutes into the second period of Saturday’s Division 1 North quarterfinal against Melrose, he put the Rockets on the board with a wrister.
Midway through the third, the senior collected the puck from the left side of the wall, side-stepped a defenseman, and fired the equalizer to the top shelf of the crease.
The slick-skating senior center was the catalyst in a 5-3 comeback win.
“If you’re a good player you have to play big in big games,” Reading coach Mark Doherty said of his senior.
Thomson does. And he is not the first member of his family to be a playmaker for the program
He and his younger brother, Matt, a freshman for the Rockets, carry a family legacy that dates back to the early 1980s, when Reading emerged as one of the state’s powers.
In 1983, Peter Doherty, the father of the current coach, directed the Rockets to their first Middlesex League championship, two years after his hire.
The Thomsons’ uncle, Billy Thomson, was a goalie on that ’83 squad; the captain of that squad was Mike Golden, now the Reading girls’ hockey coach.
Their father, Kevin Thomson, (class of 1989), shared the ice with his other two brothers Jeff ( ’86) and Brian (’87), when Mark Doherty joined his father’s staff.
That dynamic Thomson era helped set the scene for the program’s dominance that has resulted in a dozen Super 8 appearances since 1991 — tied with Arlington High for most among nonprivate schools.
“It makes it more special to me on a personal level,” said Mark Doherty, now coaching a second generation of Thomsons after succeeding his father as head coach in 2009.
“It’s even a little more unique; it’s enjoyable.”
The elder Thomsons get a kick out of watching their children take the ice in a new era.
“Every time I go to their games, I have the same feelings I did as a player,” said Kevin Thomson.
“I love to see those kids put on the same jersey as I did.”
Brian Thomson’s older son, Ryan, played a major role in Reading’s run to the Super 8 last season.
His daughter, Rachel, is a junior forward for Golden’s seventh-seeded girls’ (14-4-3), who bowed out in the Division 1 first round to No. 10 Austin Prep (14-5-3) on Saturday.
Golden says Rachel’s role as a junior captain “speaks volumes” about the respect in the locker room she’s earned from her teammates.
“Every Thomson that has put on a jersey at Reading High has won a Middlesex League title,” Brian Thomson said of the family’s history. “It’s been a huge part of my life as long as I can remember; and that’s important.”
In his third year on varsity, Mike Thomson is teamed up with his brother in the same uniform for the first time in their lives. Despite graduating 17 seniors off last year’s squad, Reading (14-8-2) advanced to Wednesday night’s North semifinals, where they took on top-seeded St. Mary’s of Lynn (16-4-4).
Mike and Matt Thomson have been sharing the hockey life since they first went one-on-one on the synthetic ice in the basement of their house years ago.
Mike admits that he and Matt try to live up to the challenge of being every bit the players their father and uncles were.
The brothers have also passed down the tradition to their younger siblings Lisa, 12, and Kevin Jr., 8, who both play on hockey select teams.
Their teammate, junior defenseman Mike Seibold, shares a similar hockey bond with his siblings. His twin sister, Danielle, and younger sister Caroline, a sophomore, also play for the Reading girls’ team.
Their father, Peter, who played hockey at Stoneham High, recalls a time when Mike persuaded his youngest sister, Jenna, 12, to opt for hockey skates, not figure skates, at a sporting goods store.
“If you want to look up ‘hockey family’ in the dictionary, there’s a picture of them in there,” Golden said of the Seibolds.
When Mike Seibold was in eighth grade and Caroline in seventh, the two paired together defensively on the boys’ middle school team.
“It was like playing with myself out there,” Mike Seibold said of skating with Caroline. “She fit right in; it was one of the most fun years I’ve had.”
His “protective mentality” both on the ice and with his sisters was on full display that season.
In one game, Caroline was back-checked hard into the boards by an opposing player, right in front of Mike.
After helping his sister to her feet, Mike Seibold got his revenge a few shifts later.
“It was very relaxing knowing that if anyone tried doing anything to me, he’d always have my back,” said Caroline.
Their parents, Peter and Beverly, said that season was a very special scenario because of the rarity of a sister getting to lace up alongside her brother.
“She only played that one year to play with [Mike],” Beverly added. “I turned into a lunatic hockey parent.”
Danielle, a forward, and Caroline, a defenseman, lean on their brother for advice and tips.
Mike Seibold arrives early to his games to watch his siblings play before him, while his sisters stay late to return the favor.
“Hockey is what we bond over,” Danielle said. “We’ve always had that together.”
Her brother added: “The older you get, the more you realize that your family is the only thing you have that’ll always be there; hockey just adds to the excitement.”
Families in Reading share a similar passion for the game.
“To go to these games and watch our kids play; it’s what you dream of as a parent,” Kevin Thomson said.
Peter Seibold added, “There’s a tradition in this town. Hockey is a huge part of that.”
Austin Prep goalie has a golden day
Despite his team holding a 2-0 advantage late in the third period of Sunday’s first Super 8 matchup, Austin Prep junior goaltender Elijah Harris knew the game was far from over.
After junior forward Christian Thompson knocked in a goal for Central Catholic on the power play with 1:01 remaining, Harris was put back on his heels.
Colin Soucy was pulled from the crease for an extra attacker, but Central Catholic couldn’t slip the equalizer past Harris, who made highlight back-to-back saves with a scrum in front of the net.
“I’ve dealt with quick goals, late goals,” said Harris, who ended the night with 32 saves. In that situation, you kind of just forget about it . . . you’ve got to clear out the mind and just stay positive.”
“Today he was really hot,” said Central coach Mike Jankowski of Harris. “He made those second and third saves.
“You have to tip your hat to him; today was his day.”
Game 2 is Thursday night at Tsongas Arena in Lowell.
Central Catholic senior forward Lloyd Hayes was named the Boys’ Player of the Year in the Merrimack Valley Conference/Dual County League. His linemate, senior Corey Webber, received the conference’s MIAA Sportsmanship Award.