Like many athletic directors across Massachusetts, life has been a whirlwind this fall for Woburn High’s Jim Duran. But in between coordinating sports for the Tanners during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Duran and his wife, Lori, made sure to be in Youngstown, Ohio, on Wednesday as the 2020 NHL Draft unfolded.
Around 6:15 p.m., it all paid off when Riley Duran — Jim and Lori’s son, and a 2020 Globe All-Scholastic as the ISL Keller MVP from Lawrence Academy — was selected in the sixth round by the Bruins. The 6-foot-1-inch, 174-pound center is playing this season for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL before heading to Providence College next fall.
“Riley’s been out there for 3-4 weeks,” Jim Duran said Thursday. “We went out there to make sure he did get drafted, and hopefully be there if he did get drafted.”
Jim Duran said Riley got a call from a Boston phone number just as his name was flashing on the NHL Network screen, the draft being held virtually this year and more than three months later than planned because of the pandemic.
“We were just standing around the TV for the past hour and we were just looking. I think when my name came up, I legit just blacked out,” Riley Duran said Wednesday via conference call. “I had no idea what was going on. I saw my mom, she was bobbling her phone when she went up to take a picture. It’s just a dream come true.”
Riley Duran’s high school/prep career has been a whirlwind as well. He played his freshman season for his father at Woburn High before transferring to Malden Catholic for the 2017-18 season. One year later it was off to Lawrence Academy, where he had 22-22—44 totals in 27 games this past season before transferring back to graduate from Woburn High this past spring.
“[Lawrence] was definitely the right spot for him, hockey-wise,” Jim Duran said. “He met a lot of good friends, and enjoyed his time there.”
Said Lawrence Academy coach Robbie Barker: “As a coach you could always depend on Riley and felt safe putting him on the ice in any situation. He was a student of the game, and one of the most coachable kids I had the pleasure of working with.”
One of Duran’s teammates in Groton was Sam Colangelo, a 2019 All-Scholastic as ISL Keller MVP. The Stoneham native, who will play for Northeastern, was the first of many players with local ties chosen Wednesday, going in Round 2 (36th overall) to the Ducks.
“This wasn’t exactly what I dreamed of as a kid,” Colangelo said of the virtual draft. “I dreamed of walking up on stage and walking down to get my jersey from someone there. But doing it on Zoom was incredible.”
Colangelo and Duran skated together on the 2018 NEPSAC Small School champions along with Gunnarwolfe Fontaine (Predators, Round 7, No. 202).
“Players like Sam don’t come around very often, so it was a special time having him here,” Barker said.
The 6-2, 205-pound right wing immediately shifted gears, heading to Plymouth, Mich., for Thursday’s start of the Evaluation Camp for the 2021 US National Junior Team.
“I want to make that team, that’s my next step,” Colangelo said. “Then when I get back, I’m all about Northeastern.”
Incoming Boston University freshman goalie Drew Commesso of Norwell was picked at No. 46 by the Blackhawks, which he said wouldn’t have exactly thrilled his 11-year-old self.
“I remember the pain watching [the 2013 Stanley Cup Final vs. the Bruins] and watching [the Blackhawks] score a few quick ones,” Commesso said with a chuckle. “I guess I have to root for the Blackhawks now. But back then just being such a hard-core Bruins fan and knowing they were so close to doing it again, that was definitely pretty painful. I’m pretty sure I cried during it.”
Commesso said his family had season tickets behind the net at the Garden, where he was able to closely study Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. He says his style compares favorably to current Flyers goalie Carter Hart, but gives much of the credit for his development to Brian Eklund, the former Archbishop Williams star and now his goalie coach at BU. Commesso switched from forward to fill in at goalie while playing for one-time Terrier Scott Shaunessy with the Bay State Breakers, and carried that through to St. Sebastian’s and the US National Team Development Program.
Sean Farrell, who was drafted in Round 4 (No. 124) by the Canadiens, also came through the US program. The 5-9, 174-pound center is playing for the USHL’s Chicago Steel before heading to Harvard, where he said he hopes to study economics.
“I think being picked by Montreal is a blessing. It’s such a great city, an Original Six team,” Farrell said via conference call. “I’ve been to Montreal one time in my life, and I had a great time there.”
The Hopkinton native played as a freshman at St. Mark’s in 2016-17, putting up eye-popping 27-28—55 totals in 28 games.
“You knew he was one of the best players in the country at his age group,” St. Mark’s coach Carl Corazzini said. “His hockey IQ, his competitiveness, that stuck out to you. I fully expected I was only going to have him for a year.”
Corazzini said it was a bit different for Ian Moore, a defenseman from Concord who went in the third round (No. 67) to the Ducks.
“I knew Ian was a really cerebral player. At the time he came to St. Mark’s, his game hadn’t matured,” Corazzini said. “He was used to being a stay-at-home defenseman. Over the course of two years, things changed. He’s grown quite a bit. His game has just translated so much in 18 months.”
For Lunenburg’s Alex Jefferies, perhaps it is fitting he was chosen by the Islanders in Round 4 (No. 121). A 6-foot, 195-pound freshman left wing for Merrimack, he played youth hockey for the Islanders HC on the North Andover campus before starring at The Gunnery School the last two seasons.
“A lot of nerves, just kind of waiting to get picked. I saw a lot of guys I knew and just kind of wondering when it was going to be my time,” said Jefferies, who added he was thrilled to have his name announced by Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello. “When it finally came, it was super exciting.”
UMass-Lowell defenseman Ben Meehan, of Walpole and Dexter Southfield, went to the Kings in the fifth round (No. 140). Dexter’s John Fusco, a 5-11, 180-pound defenseman from Westwood, was picked in Round 7 (No. 189) by the Maple Leafs. He is headed to Harvard — the alma mater of his father, Mark, as well as uncle Scott Fusco, the 1986 Hobey Baker winner.