South Jersey’s own ‘Johnny Hockey’


Photo by Peter G. Sánchez

gaudreau-webJohnny Gaudreau, of Carneys Point, stands with the Hokey Baker Memorial Award, which he received on Friday, April 11 at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia, as the top college ice hockey player in the nation. Gaudreau, a former player at Gloucester Catholic, played last season with Boston College, and is currently with the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames.

PHILADELPHIA – On Thursday, April 10, Carneys Point native Johnny Gaudreau and his ice hockey team at Boston College lost to Union College in the Frozen Four, the semifinals of the NCAA Division I college men’s ice hockey tournament, held at the Wells Fargo Center here.
But then:
On Friday, April 11, at the Loews Hotel here, he received the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given to the top college ice hockey player in the country for his stellar junior season with Boston College.
And then last Sunday, April 13, Gaudreau played his first game with the Calgary Flames and scored a goal on his first shot – becoming only the fifth player in the history of the National Hockey League to do so.
It was that kind of four days for the young star nicknamed “Johnny Hockey.”
“I’m honored to accept this award, in the name of all who helped me get here,” including his family, coaches and teammates, Gaudreau said after being named the recipient of the Hobey Baker award during the April 11 ceremony.
The award’s namesake, born in Bala Cynwyd, was a star at Princeton and considered first hockey star from the United States. He was among the first nine men inducted into the inaugural Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945 and the first American.
Hobey Baker would be impressed with Gaudreau’s skills. The 20-year old recorded 36 goals, 44 assists, and 80 points (all best in the nation) for Boston College this year, proving his excellence with his 5’9, 150-pound frame.
A standout player for three years at Gloucester Catholic High School, playing under his father, Gaudreau played his senior year with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of Iowa, of the United States Hockey League, and earned Rookie of the Year honors.
In the 2011 National Hockey League draft, he was selected by the Calgary Flames in the fourth round (104th overall).
After the Hobey Baker ceremony, Gaudreau announced that he was foregoing his senior season at Boston College and signing with the Flames. He joined the team in time for his first NHL game, and the team’s last game of the season, on Sunday.
“I’m proud of him, and all the work he’s put in,” said his father, Guy, hockey director at Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell, and ice hockey coach at Gloucester Catholic. Watching his son mature and refine his talents, Guy couldn’t be happier, but he reminds his son to remember and appreciate the people around him.
“The most important thing is team,” Guy said. “They’re part of your success. You have to work together, play together and practice hard together.”
After Johnny’s name was announced as the winner, his Boston College and Gloucester Catholic teammates and supporters roared in unison, eager to see what awaits. The supporters included Johnny’s brother and teammate, Matthew, who is a freshman at Boston College.
If Sunday’s game with the Flames is any indication, a new NHL star has been born.
“As a small guy, I look up to him; he’s inspiring,” said Joe Decrosta, a sophomore ice hockey player at Gloucester Catholic. “He’s a big name.”