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 recently had a chance to chat with senior captain of the Clippers Owen Spence. A multi-sport athlete, who plays both soccer and hockey, Spence is one of the stronger skaters on the North Shore, thanks in part to his dedication in the weight room. We let him tell his story below where he discusses developing speed through strength, his relationship with Coach Paul Yameen and playing his entire career in Henry Graf Rink.
We noticed that hockey isn’t your only sport at Newburyport, you also play soccer. What position do you play and what are some of the elements about soccer that translate well to hockey?
I play forward for soccer. One thing that translates really well is that first step off the ball and being able to be quick and deceptive makes a huge difference on the ice for me as a player.
Coach Yameen at Newburyport has coached the Clippers for 18 years and won over 200 games: how would you describe his coaching style and how has he made an impact on your career over the last four years?
Coach Yameen is a great coach. His coaching style is very direct. He’s not afraid of telling you the truth. He’ll let you know where you need to improve to have a role on the team. This coaching style is the reason why he’s had a huge impact on the program from where it started to where it is today. As a player on his team for four years I’ve developed a lot as a player on and off the ice. He’s a big believer in getting stronger in the weight room. Which is what I have been doing over the course of high school and it has developed my game tremendously.
Newburyport is primarily known as a beach town, how would you describe the hockey culture there and how did you get started playing?
I think Newburyport has a lot of hockey history behind it. I think hockey plays a big part in Newburyport’s culture. There’s a lot of passion for hockey in the community. I started playing hockey when I was 3 years old in the same place I’m playing hockey now. I think my brother started playing which got me hooked immediately to the game when I was young.
You grew up in Newburyport and decided to play for the high school when you may have had options to play elsewhere. What does it mean to represent your hometown and stay all four years?
Being able to play for your own hometown and to have your friends and family come to watch your games is a pretty special feeling. Only having four years doesn’t seem like enough. Being able to first start playing hockey in the same rink as you’re playing your senior year is a cool experience.
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 consider myself an offensive defenseman. I like to get involved in the plays and be aggressive on offense. I’m always trying to work on my skating. Skating is one of those things you can improve on no matter what level you’re at.
What are some of the off-the-ice training techniques that you’ve used to improve your game? Do you try to focus on one area, or a number of different things?
Shooting pucks constantly is something you need to do every day. Also getting to the gym improving your lower body and core will have a huge impact on your speed and stability on the ice. I think focusing on improving a little every day is something you should strive for. Instead of focusing on one area you want to be a much more well-rounded player.
Finally, do you plan to pursue playing hockey next season? Have you started thinking about what that might look like and where?
I do plan on continuing my hockey career and for where that might be is still to be looked at.