Hockey players with local ties reunited in South Carolina
It’s a small hockey world for Wayne Simpson , Derrick Pallis, and Joe Lavin , 24-year-old teammates on the playoff-bound South Carolina Stingrays of the East Coast Hockey League.
Simpson, a Boxborough native who starred at Union College, is a high-scoring rookie winger with the Stingrays, an affiliate of the Boston Bruins and the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins.
Pallis, a second-year pro from Medfield who played at Noble & Greenough School and was an assistant captain at Princeton, plays the point on the power play alongside Shrewsbury native Lavin, who captained the 2010-2011 Notre Dame team that reached the NCAA’s Frozen Four.
“I played with Joe when we were 13 years old on Team Massachusetts when we traveled to Sweden,’’ Pallis said of his fellow defenseman, “and I played against Wayne when he was at Lawrence Academy and at Union. In hockey, it’s not unusual for old opponents to become friends and teammates.’’
They took different journeys to earn a roster spot on the minor league team.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Simpson, who scored a natural hat trick and added a shootout goal in a 6-5 win last week against the Florida Everblades, attended Boston’s rookie camp, and caught the eye of Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery in a rookie tournament.
Pallis, who played in the ECHL and the Central Hockey League last year, was signed by the Stingrays prior to this season, while Lavin, a 2007 fifth-round pick of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, arrived in midseason via a Bruins organization trade with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons.
Another Stingrays player with area ties, Bentley forward Brett Gensler, was signed last month after his college season ended.
“Wayne is a natural goal-scorer who’s cool under pressure and he has the best shot on our team,” Carbery said of Simpson. “He’s improved to the point where he could get a chance to play in the AHL next season. His one-timer is superb, he’s our go-to guy on the power play, and he’s elevated his game at just the right time.’’ Through 65 games, Simpson, who plays either wing, had 21 goals and 18 assists.
The 6-3, 200-pound Lavin, a veteran of two AHL seasons with Chicago’s Rockford affiliate and who had a brief stint with Providence this year, was appointed an alternate captain by Carbery not long after his arrival.
“It’s great to have him here,’’ said the coach. “He’s awesome in the room and a high-end D-man for our league with top-notch skating ability.’’
Carbery said the 6-1, 185-pound Pallis is “gifted with the puck’’ and has worked his way into the lineup, especially with his offensive skills, and that Gensler, while adapting to playing against faster and stronger players, “sees the ice well and plays with his head up.”
“Their past and being from the Boston area gives all of them an immediate connection,’’ he said.
Simpson said he respected Pallis as a opponent. “We used to talk about how to shut him down when we played Princeton,’’ said Simpson, who was in the Frozen Four with Union two years ago and is rooting for this year’s squad to win it all.
Lavin’s goal is to play in the National Hockey League. “I’m still confident and I’m excited about the postseason because we just missed out my two years in Rockford,’’ he said. “For me, it’s all about consistency and that’s what I’m focusing on.’’
Pallis said he is never far away from family when he plays at ECHL opponents in Ohio and Michigan.
“I had last Thanksgiving’s dinner at my grandparents home in Camden, Michigan,’’ he said, “and last season, for our game in Toledo, my aunt had T-shirts made for 32 family members with my name and number 5. That was unforgettable.’’
Gensler, 23, said he left Boston during a snowstorm, and “it was sure a lot warmer when we landed. It’s been great to talk about the Red Sox and places to eat in Boston with the guys, and that my first two pro games were streamed back to Bentley.’’
Here and there
Suffolk University senior Jake Cintolo of Wrentham set a school baseball record with his 224th career hit Saturday during a doubleheader sweep of Anna Maria College. Cintolo led off the sixth inning of the second game with a double to right-center to surpass the mark set by Mike Maguire (class of 2005). His 57 career doubles through last weekend is also a Suffolk record. . . Needham resident and former Bentley University soccer star Terry Carleton will be inducted June 9 into the Capital One Academic All-America Hall of Fame during the College Sports Information Directors of America convention in Orlando. A 1996 inductee to the Bentley Athletic Hall of Fame, Carleton holds the men’s soccer single-game records for goals (four) and points (nine). He starred on the 1975 team that made the program’s only NCAA tournament appearance. He is a former acting president and chairman of the trustees at the Waltham university. . . The Division 2 national champion Bentley women’s basketball team will hold a rolling rally on campus Saturday starting at 2:30 p.m. There will be T-shirt giveaway beginning at 3 p.m. on the Green Space. . . Six students from Cormier’s Self Defense Academy in Holliston earned medals in their respective age groups for either forms or sparring at the recent World Martial Arts Federation Spring Tournament in Boston. Nick Bagley and Danny Liberty captured firsts, Johann Mari took second, James Palanzi placed third, and Jonah Businger and Ainsley Cronin earned fourth-place honors.
Marvin Pave can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.