Earning the right to play in a state final is an extremely challenging accomplishment. The Xaverian boys’ hockey team and Canton girls’ squad are both making a return trip to the TD Garden ice in their quest for a championship.
Sunday will be a special day for the Spinale family.
Dave, in his 22nd season as head coach at Xaverian, will lead the Hawks into the Division 1 championship at 1 p.m.. His daughter, Devan, a junior at Canton, will play for the Division 2 girls’ championship with her Bulldog teammates against Duxbury at 9 a.m. And Dave’s nephew, Grady, will compete in the Division 3 boys’ championship with Scituate at 5:30 p.m.
“It’s really special,” said Grady, a sophomore. “Just the chance of three Spinales making it that far to the ultimate goal at the end of the season. The only thing better than getting there would be going 3-0.”
‘“We’re a close family, so it’s cool for that . . . I’m just going to do my best to savor the moment with my family.”’
Xaverian boys' hockey coach Dave Spinale, on the MIAA hockey title he, his daugher, Devan, and nephew Grady will compete for Sunday at TD Garden
The majority of the immediate and extended family will be in attendance for the three games. Dave’s three siblings, Andy, Mark, and Margot will be there, along with the majority of their children. Paul and Nancy, Devan and Grady’s grandparents, will be tuned in on a live stream after attending the semifinals at Gallo Arena in person for Devan and Grady.
Athletics, specifically hockey, runs deep in the Spinale family.
Dave played at Hobart and William Smith and his wife, Jennifer, was on the soccer team at Westfield State. Brendan, his eldest son, plays on the hockey and lacrosse teams at Franklin Pierce and Shane, the middle child, played for Dave at Xaverian before undertaking a post graduate year at Phillips Academy Andover and playing junior hockey for the Walpole Express. Devan has already committed to play lacrosse at Saint Anselm College.
“Athletics have taught them so many wonderful life lessons where they can go into a room and have a conversation with a complete stranger,” said Dave. “It gives you self-esteem and confidence to achieve greater things in life and the ability to give back.”
Devan grew up playing goalie as her brothers fired shots at her in the driveway, where the breaking multiple windows was not an infrequent occurrence. Fiercely-contested affairs brought the three siblings closer together.
“She’s a tough kid and I think that she got that from her brothers,” said Dave. “They never took it easy on her.”
The extended family spends a lot of time together, engaging in lively floor hockey games in the basement on Christmas Eve. Grady and his older brother Conor, a freshman at the University of Tennessee after playing for the Scituate hockey team, spent days in their backyard rink with their cousins. During the summers, the family enjoys water sports and fishing together at Steamboat Marina in Hull.
Dave helped impart the love of the game on the family.
“I’ve been going to their games since I was a baby,” said Devan. “My dad and the other coaches, they care so much about the program. I’m really proud of him. He’s done so much for his team, he puts his heart and soul into it.”
“I’m not only the player that I am because of him, I’m the person that I am because of him,” added Devan.
Whatever the results, the Spinale family shares a particularly close bond, forged through experiences together and countless hours around the game of hockey. Sunday’s championships provide a bow to tie it all together.
“It’s special because how rare is that?,” said Dave. “We’re a close family, so it’s cool for that. To go back on the same day as her, it’s almost surreal. I’m just going to do my best to savor the moment with my family.”
Cam Kerry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.