For Sommer, hockey is about family ties
Holy Cross freshman winger Castan Sommer (inset below) and his family have a special connection to hockey.
His father, Roy Sommer, head coach of the Worcester Sharks of the American Hockey League, has spent 15 consecutive seasons behind the bench in the San Jose Sharks organization. His experiences, as both a player and a coach, have given his son a distinctive perspective on the game.
His older brother, 22-year-old Marley, nicknamed “Moe,” sorts out towels and uniforms and fills water bottles in the Sharks locker room at the DCU Center, where the players affectionately chant his name.
Moe lives with autism and Down syndrome. But that did not deter him from finding an elevator at the TD Garden in Boston and walking onto the ice to celebrate Shrewsbury High’s Division 3 state championship win in 2009, when Castan Sommer was a senior captain on the squad.
“He was in the stands with my Midget coach and the next thing I knew our whole team was hugging him,’’ recalled Sommer, who scored the game-winning goal, a short-handed strike, that night in the third period against Shawsheen Valley Regional Tech. “He has that same bond with the Sharks players and it’s nice to be back home and going to college near him and all the family.’’
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Sommer, whose sister, Kira, is a junior at Shrewsbury High, played a postgraduate year at the Hotchkiss School and then two years with junior teams. He is off to a solid start in his first season at Holy Cross, where he has collected 3 goals and 5 assists in 13 games.
The Crusaders were 7-4-2 overall and 6-3-2 in the Atlantic Hockey Conference heading into this weekend’s pair of home games against Penn State.
Holy Cross head coach Paul Pearl was told to keep an eye on Sommer by former Shrewsbury High coach John Binkoski, previously an assistant under Pearl.
“It’s all about accountability with Coach Pearl,’’ said Sommer, 21, who participated in the San Jose Sharks’ development camp last summer alongside his father. “If you make a bad pass in practice, you have to go chase down the puck. So we pay a lot of attention to detail and it keeps us sharp.’’
Pearl, who enjoys talking hockey with Roy Sommer, admires the skills and intelligence his son brings to the rink.
“Castan wasn’t quite ready for Division 1 hockey when I first saw him,’’ said Pearl, whose roster includes brothers Mike and Joe McNamara , Belmont Hill School graduates from Chestnut Hill.
“He had some growing and strengthening to do. His skating has improved greatly over the past two years, he’s defensively responsible, which is why he’s on our penalty kill, and being an older freshman, Castan’s maturity level is right up there.’’
Roy Sommer said Castan’s exposure to players he’s coached over the years and attending Sharks camps for college prospects and free agents has given him a solid foundation.
“We’re total opposites, though,’’ said Roy, who played nine seasons in the minors and is the third winningest coach in the AHL history. He scored a goal for the Edmonton Oilers in his first of three career National Hockey League games 31 years ago, and has kept the puck as a memento. “I was probably more physical, but he has more skill and reads the game real well. Now that he’s at Holy Cross, he’s realized a dream to play college hockey.
“And his brother, Moe, really relaxes our dressing room. He’s a fun kid to be around.’’
Moe, who received his diploma from Shrewsbury High in 2010, delivers Meals on Wheels through the Sterling Center’s adult day program, and he sometimes wears his Sharks cap or T-shirt.
Clarke leads Hopkins to first women’s title
Lincoln’s Holly Clarke (inset below), a junior at Johns Hopkins University, became the school’s first two-time women’s cross-country All-American by placing 25th at last month’s NCAA Division 3 championships. The team’s No. 2 runner and an All-Centennial Conference and Mideast Region pick, Clarke helped Johns Hopkins capture its first women’s championship in any sport.
“Holly has stepped up this year and proven herself as an elite runner nationally,’’ said head cross-country coach Bobby Van Allen. “She combines a joyful energy with extreme dedication. Her top priority is the team’s overall success.’’
Clarke, a Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High graduate who will study abroad next semester, was fifth at the NCAA Mideast Regional and second at the conference meet (a personal best 21:04). She competed in the 5,000 meters indoors and 5,000 and 10,000 meters outdoors at last season’s NCAA track and field championships.
Former Wellesley High girls’ soccer tricaptain Mikaela Curtin set a Wesleyan University women’s soccer record by playing in 61 consecutive games to cap off her college career. A versatile player and two-time captain, she helped eighth-seeded Wesleyan pull a major upset against nationally ranked Middlebury in the New England Small College Athletic Conference quarterfinals . . . Jim Vesey, a former Belmont Hill standout who was leading the Harvard University hockey team in scoring as a freshman, was selected to the preliminary roster of the US junior team. His father, Jim Vesey, starred at Merrimack College, and had a brief stint with the Bruins.