Nolan Vesey keeps family legacy going
Nolan Vesey did his best to upend Malden Catholic’s bid for a third consecutive Super 8 title in March. Fourteen seconds into the game, the senior captain gave Austin Prep a 1-0 lead, and then added another score as Prep rallied from a 3-1 deficit.
MC hung on for a 3-2 victory, but Vesey had no time to dwell on the loss.
The next day, the North Reading teen made the drive to the Foxboro Sports Center for practice with the Neponset River Rats. Less than 24 hours after the Super 8 loss, he shook his mind clear and focused on winning a national championship.
Last month, in Pittsburgh, Vesey and the River Rats capped a 33-4-2 season with a 4-3 win against the St. Louis AAA Blues at Robert Morris University, capturing the USA Hockey Tier 1 18-and-under national title, the best season in the program’s six-year history.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Vesey said. “It was my first time at nationals, which was cool to begin with, and the games were games I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”
In 39 games, skating the wing on the second line, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Vesey tallied 16 goals and 22 assists. In the Blues’ 5-1 win against Shattuck St. Mary in the semifinals, Vesey netted the dagger in the third period to give Neponset a 4-0 lead.
“He’s tough, physical and plays hard,” said Neponset coach Jon Hutcheon , Billerica High class of 2001. “He has tremendous hands, can makes plays, can create offense with his ability, and can really shoot a puck.”
For the 18-year-old Vesey, expectations are high.
His father, Jim , drafted by the St. Louis Blues out of Merrimack College in 1984, played in 15 NHL games from 1988-92, including four with the Bruins.
Nolan’s older brother, Jimmy , the 66th overall selection in last year’s NHL entry draft by Nashville, was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year this season at Harvard.
“I always look up to them and ask for advice, but I’ve established myself as my own person,” said the younger Vesey, who wears No. 8, like his father. “I try not to do exactly what they do.
“A lot of people are looking at you with the name Vesey on my jersey. But I take pride in that last name, and respect the things my dad and brother have done.”
Nolan, who tallied 22 goals and 18 assists at Austin Prep (16-3-6) as a senior, boasts the scoring ability of both his brother and father.
Hutcheon also lauded his work ethic.
“You hear a lot of coaches saying, ‘You get it or you don’t,’ and [Nolan] knows what it takes to move on to the next level,” said the River Rats coach.
“He comes to the rink every day with the right frame of mind. He’s always wondering what he can do better.”
Ask Vesey, and he’s quick to admit he inherited his work ethic from his father.
“My dad always taught me if you’re going to be at the rink, work hard and give 100 percent,” Nolan said. “I love the game of hockey, so going to the rink is never a bad thing. I love learning the game. I’ve been fortunate enough to have great coaches along the way.”
Jim Vesey coached his two sons from the time they were 6, but stepped back when Jimmy was 13, and Nolan 11.
“It got to a point where I said, ‘I can’t do it anymore,’ ” said the elder Vesey. “My wife [Ann] thought I was crazy. But it was going to be up to them if they wanted it, and they had to do it themselves. They had to put the work in.”
Nolan Vesey has attracted interest from Hockey East programs, but this coming season, he, like his brother previously, will play for the South Shore Kings of the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
“A lot of guys compare him to Jimmy, but his upside is just as good, if not better,” Hutcheon said. “His upside is bright.”
NFL is Moores goal
After his junior season at Middlebury College, Ryan Moores was put through a workout by a scout from the Washington Redskins.
From that moment forward, the mammoth offensive lineman from Manchester realized his potential as a pro prospect.
Last summer, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Moores worked feverishly at Gridiron Training in Woburn and garnered Division 3 All-American honors as a senior at Middlebury.
On Monday, the Governor’s Academy product agreed to a free agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons. On Friday, he traveled to Georgia for a three-day rookie mini-camp to try to earn a spot on their preseason roster.
“It came down to Atlanta or Seattle, and I picked Atlanta because that’s where I felt it was the best opportunity to make it to training camp,” Moores said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Moores, a captain, helped power Middlebury to a 7-1 record, and protected quarterback McCallum Foote (2,897 passing yards, 31 touchdowns), who orchestrated the Panthers’ record-setting offense. Moores and his mates up front allowed just five sacks all season.
“Playing with extremely high-caliber players was a great end to my career,” Moores said.
Working closely with Pat Downey at Gridiron, Moores added 25 pounds, increasing his weight from 290 to 315 pounds his senior season.
“I put in a lot of hard work and effort to make my dream come true,” Moores said. “From Division 3, the biggest change will be the size and speed of players [in the NFL], but it’s an adjustment I have to make. I feel comfortable and confident I can play with those types of players.”
Onorato hits .430
Yale sophomore catcher Sarah Onorato
of North Reading hit .430 with 14 home runs and 28 RBIs this season, and her .864 single-season slugging percentage ranks third in Ivy League history. Her 127 total bases ranks second. . . . At the UMass Dartmouth Athletic Awards banquet, Nick Hiou
of Peabody received the Senior Scholar Athlete award. The third-leading receiver on the football team, Hiou is a finance major while minoring in economics. He has earned a 3.8 GPA or higher in six of seven semesters. . . . Wheelock College women’s lacrosse player Katie Gavin
(Manchester) was named the New England Collegiate Conference Player of the Week after scoring seven goals in two games. Gavin has played 22 matches during her two-year tenure at Wheelock and is the program’s career leader with 89 points, 77 goals, and 90 draw controls. . . . On Monday, Kevin Moran
stepped down after nine seasons as varsity boys’ basketball coach at St. Mary’s of Lynn, his alma mater. He guided the Spartans to the Division 4 state title in 2012, and was an assistant under Mike O’Brien when St. Mary’s won back-to-back titles in 2001-02. On Thursday, another alum, David Brown, was hired as his replacement. Brown, the sixth-leading scorer in St. Mary’s history, guided the Winthrop High boys from 2002-12.
Anthony Gulizia can be reached at gulizia.ant