Gloucester Catholic hosted a homecoming and jersey retirement ceremony March 2 when it celebrated the return of one of its own, Johnny “Johnny Hockey” Gaudreau.
Gaudreau played ice hockey for the Rams and is an NHL rookie standout on the roster for the Calgary Flames. Gaudreau is also the 2014 recipient of the Hobey Baker Award, which is given to the NCAA’s top hockey player.
As part of its Winter Playoff Pep Rally, Gloucester Catholic retired Johnny’s No. 3 jersey. “That’s not something that happens a lot around here,” said John Colman, who is Gloucester Catholic head of school.
At the ceremony, Gaudreau was joined by his father, Guy, his mother, Jane, and sisters Katie and Kristin. Gaudreau’s younger brother, Matt, also a hockey player, is away at Boston College.
Gaudreau’s father is the rink manager at Holly Dell in Sewell and coached his son at Gloucester Catholic. Currently, he is the Rams’ ice hockey coach.
Of his son’s facing off against the Flyers Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo, Guy Gaudreau said: “It’s huge.”
“Holly Dell will be closed at 4 p.m. because no one is going to be there,” he added. “Everybody is planning to be at the game.”
Also expected at the Flames vs. Flyers game is Bishop Dennis Sullivan, who will attend following confirmation ceremonies at St. Mary in Gloucester City.
During the pep rally, Gaudreau autographed his retired No. 3 Gloucester Catholic Rams jersey and also a No. 13 Calgary Flames jersey.
The soft-spoken 21-year-old hockey star responded to the thunderous applause and loud chants of “Johnny Hockey” with a shy smile. His comment on being back at Gloucester Catholic was, “It’s amazing.”
Colman said of the star athlete: “He has made the entire Gloucester Catholic family proud. He is a fine young man, not only for his hockey skills, but by coming back to the school. He is a great example for the students.”
Colman relayed a story about how the school’s hockey program came into existence. “It came from a meeting about 15 years ago with Guy Gaudreau, Chris Voit, then-athletic director Gerry Scharff and myself. We were trying to figure out how we could bring a hockey program to the school.
Back then, Johnny was just a little kid. Voit wound up being the head coach and Guy was his assistant.”
Fast forward 15 years and today, Guy is the Ram’s head ice-hockey coach and Johnny was one of his players.
Coach Gaudreau expressed gratitude to Gloucester Catholic for instilling faith, values and discipline in his children, while receiving a Catholic education.
“My wife and I are so pleased that our kids received an awesome education at Gloucester Catholic and that prepared them for Boston College,” he said. “We are so thankful for what Gloucester Catholic has done for all of our children.”
After the ceremony, Johnny made time to take pictures and to sign autographs for the students.
Students were impressed.
Mia Simila said, “He is a special, amazing player.”
Cara Kinkler agreed, adding, “Johnny is a very kind person and very talented. It’s so exciting that he will get to play against the Flyers.”