With graduation season upon us for high schoolers, there is no better time to celebrate the Class of 2020. The circumstances this year are tough due to the COVID-19 pandemic: many of these young men and women lost the opportunity to finish out their last school year, go to the senior prom, walk at graduation ceremonies: it’s a truly unprecedented time in this country’s history.
But, there is something we can do. All season long we at MassNZ have been covering this senior class. In fact, we just published our list of the Top 130 MIAA Seniors we saw this season over on the main Neutral Zone site. We don’t want to let the on and off-ice efforts of these young men fall by the wayside as this pandemic has forced everyone to change their daily routines. This series will feature in-depth profiles where these seniors get to tell their own stories on their terms. We want to give them the platform to talk about what this year meant to them and what the future may have in store.
This week we are celebrating the six-year varsity hockey career of Brendan DeMarco from D3 North Champion Lowell HS. He has had a lot of success over the course of his young career, starting out at the varsity level as a 12-year-old middle schooler and racking up a total of three North sectional championships in 2017, 2019 and 2020. Our scouts noted his long stride efficiency and keen instincts to finish around the net which made him a threat on every shift as a senior. Unsurprisingly he is also a dual-sport athlete for the Red Raiders: playing baseball in the spring. We chatted with Brendan a couple of weeks ago to see what he has been up to since his season ended and where his hockey career will take him next, and here’s what he had to say:
MassNZ: When did you start playing hockey? Do you remember first putting on skates?
Brendan DeMarco: I first started skating when I was I think three and a half or four.
MassNZ: Did you mostly play your youth hockey in Lowell or were there other programs where you learned to play?
MassNZ: How would you describe the strengths in your game to someone who has never seen you play before?
DeMarco: I would describe my strengths as a fast-moving kid with a good shot. I can get up the ice pretty quick with my long strides.
MassNZ: You started playing varsity hockey as a 12-year-old, that must have been daunting going against 18-year-olds, what was that experience like?
DeMarco: The experience of playing on a varsity team when I was 12 years old was pretty scary. I would walk into the rink and see all these men with beards and mustaches and it was pretty intimidating because they were also a lot more developed than I was at the time.
MassNZ: Walk me through your progression from that season to senior year, what changed the most over your career at Lowell?
DeMarco: What changed a lot was I got taller, faster and stronger. Over the next six years and after my eighth grade year I wasn’t really scared anymore to play because I had gotten so used to seeing kids that were bigger than me on the ice.
MassNZ: Lowell has won three D3 North sectional championships in the last four years, what do you attribute the team’s success to?
DeMarco: I attribute my team’s success over the last four years to some great teammates and captains and the coaching staff doing an excellent job working with us and making sure we are ready to play.
MassNZ: Your home games are played at Tsongas Arena – it must be pretty cool to play your games in a collegiate arena – do you get to use the same facilities as UMass-Lowell?
DeMarco: No we don’t get to use the same facilities as them. We use the visiting team’s locker room throughout the week, until UMass Lowell has a game, then we have to use a different one during practice.
MassNZ: You also played baseball for Lowell, what position did you play and what was the transition like each season from the ice to the diamond?
DeMarco: I played the outfield and I was a pitcher. The transition from hockey to baseball wasn’t really that different because half of the hockey team all played baseball so we were already used to seeing each other.
MassNZ: Can you speak to why MIAA hockey was the right path for you? What makes it so special?
DeMarco: I think the MIAA was a good path for me because it got me to where I am today and there are a lot of great teams with a lot of great players and that only made me play better because they make you work harder.
MassNZ: Over your four years, what is the most memorable moment that comes to mind, and why?
DeMarco: My biggest accomplishment over the last 4 years was hitting the 100 point mark as a junior. That was really special to me because not a lot of players get a chance to get 100 points in high school, so it’s pretty cool that I achieved it.
MassNZ: What will you miss the most about the boys?
DeMarco: What I will miss most about the boys is seeing them everyday, joking around, playing hockey and going out to get breakfast and lunch with them.
MassNZ: Switching gears, this has been an unprecedented end to the season for the Class of 2020 and an odd way to start the summer – how have you been passing the time and adjusting?
DeMarco: What I’ve been doing to pass the time is going to the gym, going on runs, getting my schoolwork done so I don’t have to worry about it and just taking it easy playing some video games every now and then.
MassNZ: What is next for you? Do you intend to keep playing hockey next season and if so, where?
DeMarco: What is next for me is I signed with the Worcester Jr. Railers next season so I can’t wait to get started with them and continue to keep playing hockey at the next level.