As part of this new season of MIAA hockey, the pandemic has led to a very different reality for most high school athletes, especially the seniors. Obviously the rules and regulations are new, but for the 2021 senior class this is their last ride of high school competition. Some may not have another chance to play competitive hockey while others will be able to move on to play juniors, prep or even collegiately. There are lots of great storylines this season that we want to shed some light on and we want to get started with the skilled multi-sport athlete Brendan Fennell of Melrose. He’s had quite a decorated career for his hometown which includes accolades across hockey, football, lacrosse and golf.
Let’s start with the obvious: what does it mean to you to get to play your senior year of hockey, even in the midst of this pandemic? How have things changed in your preparation for the season?
This year has obviously been a crazy one with the pandemic, it means the world to me to get one last go around with this great group of guys. We have all had about an extra week of preparation so hopefully we use that to our advantage and hit the ground running.
Not playing football in the fall meant that you got the opportunity to try a new sport in golf. How did you join the team and how did the season go for you and your teammates?
Yes, the MIAA created four shorter seasons this year and gave me the opportunity to play golf in the fall while football was moved to the spring. I knew many kids on the team and thought it would be awesome to play competitive golf so I joined the team and we had a great group of golfers and ended up going 8-0 and winning the league.
You were able to win a Div 4 Championship last year as the QB of the Melrose football team: what were some of the characteristics that led that team to have so much success?
Last year we made the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium and were fortunate enough to win it. Everyone was definitely in it together, that means a lot, in the locker room or out on the field when you know someone has your back. Also the depth of the team helps a lot when injuries occur.
Football, golf and hockey – are we forgetting any other sports you’ve played in your four years at Melrose? Do you have a favorite across all of them?
I am lucky enough to be a three-sport captain at Melrose: football, hockey and lacrosse and I was fortunate to play golf this year and am just thankful for all the opportunities this city has given me to succeed. I would say my favorite would have to be football; even though I love all of them, there is nothing like football.
We ask this of every multi-sport HS athlete: how does playing multiple sports help you to succeed in hockey? Is the preparation similar?
I feel playing multiple sports takes the stress off the muscles you use for hockey and also if you play multiple sports I feel like it makes you an even better competitor and it makes you want to win even more. The preparation is similar in the repetition and just excelling in whatever you are doing.
You are now Melrose’s all-time leading scorer in hockey: what does that record mean to you?
I was fortunate enough to break the point record here at Melrose last year. The record does mean a lot, but winning without a doubt is number one in this program.
Last year was a great run to the D1 North State tournament for Melrose: what are some of the goals this senior class has set as we get ready to start the season in January?
One of the goals this year and every year is to win the Middlesex League. Melrose has not been able to do that in over 40 years, so that would be awesome.
For someone who has never seen you play hockey: how would you describe your game? Is there anything you are actively trying to work on?
I would describe my game as making the right play at the right time, being a pretty smart hockey player. One thing I am focusing on in my game right now is my quickness.
Given last year’s success, we would imagine you had plenty of opportunities to play hockey (and football) elsewhere: what does it mean to represent Melrose and stay for all four years of high school?
Growing up, it was all Melrose. Going to football games every Friday night and hockey games on Saturday. So this has always been the dream for high school and to represent such an amazing city and to achieve what we have achieved in all sports (and especially football) is honestly a dream come true for me.
Finally, do you plan to pursue playing hockey and football next season? Have you started thinking about what that might look like and where?
I plan to pursue hockey in the future and I have thought about where I would fit in. I am hoping to go to a prep school and my goal is to eventually play college hockey.