An alternate captain for the Providence College men’s hockey team last season, North Andover’s Brian Pinho is the team’s captain this year. He helped the Nate Leaman-coached team win the NCAA championship in his first year at Providence and has helped it earn spots in the NCAA tournament each of the past two years and likely this year as well. After starring at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Pinho played a year of junior hockey and won a championship with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League. A finance major at Providence, he was selected in the sixth round of the 2013 NHL draft by the Washington Capitals.
Q. What do you like best about hockey?
A. I like the camaraderie. A lot of hockey people say there’s nothing like hockey friends and I think that’s pretty much true. I just love the game. I’ve been fortunate here and in high school to be on some pretty good teams with some pretty good players. It’s fun being on a good team and learning from older guys and the coaches.
Q. What was your hockey highlight at St. John’s Prep?
A. I would say my senior season. We had about 13 seniors on our team, which was awesome. We were all real good friends and just enjoyed being at the rink together. We had a good team and were winning a lot of games. It was a fun season and we’re still close friends. We lost in the semifinals of the Super 8 tournament to Austin Prep.
Q. And your hockey highlight so far at Providence?
A. Definitely winning the national championship freshman year. That’s an easy answer.
Q. How did that season go?
A. We had an older team, mostly juniors and seniors, and we had real good leadership starting with coach Leaman obviously and all the way through the seniors and juniors to the sophomores and freshmen. We were detailed and played our systems well and executed every game plan, especially the veteran players. We were real hard to handle, a hard-nosed, gritty team, and we had guys who could score as well. And we had a real good goalie in Jon Gillies.
Q. What are your memories from the championship run?
A. There was a funny story when we played Miami in the first game of the NCAA tournament. We were smoking them, 6-2 or something like that, and they pulled their goalie for the last 10 minutes and scored three goals and got it close. I was on the bench and didn’t play at the end and had taken my mouthguard out. Later, in the championship game, we were leading late and I caught myself and didn’t take my mouthguard out. I didn’t want to jinx us.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you ever got from a coach?
A. One of the things coach Leaman dictates to us every day is you can’t be complacent. You have to work every day and treat every practice like it’s a game. You can only get better if you try every day and do your best. He does a good job of keeping us level-headed. I love playing for coach Leaman. It’s been a good ride.
Q. Do you think much about the fact your collegiate playing days are nearing an end?
A. Obviously I don’t want it to end. I love playing for Providence and being a Friar. I’m just real excited for the playoffs and trying to win it again. It’s the best time of year and we’re all excited to be in the position we’re in.
Q. What’s your favorite professional sports team?
A. The Patriots, for sure.
Q. A hockey guy with a football team as his favorite?
A. I don’t know. They’ve just been so good for so long. We’re pretty intense here at Providence about our football. We really give each other a hard time. It’s nice being a Pats fan because they’re usually winning. We had a couple of Eagles fans, pretend Eagles fans, this year. They just started to be Eagles fans. Some Cowboy fans. Minnesota fans. Jacksonville fans. Pretty much anyone that plays the Patriots, they like.
Allen Lessels can be reached at email@example.com.