Apr. 17—The thing Edward Little defenseman Will Cassidy will remember most from the 2021 season is not the individual success that has led him to be named as a Travis Roy Award finalist.
Instead, it will be the elevated state of the Red Eddies boys hockey program.
“The first thing is we grew as a program,” Cassidy said. “We only lost one game, which is a big advancement from last year (when) we lost 10 in a row. We became more of a cohesive unit, we tried to grow each and every year, and the success we had this year shows the process is working.”
The senior captain had two goals and eight assists in 10 games played this season. He is the first Edward Little player to be a finalist for the Travis Roy Award since Ben Steele in 2016. The Red Eddies have had two Travis Roy winners, Kyle Smith (2004) and Josh Benson (2002).
The other two finalists the award, which will be livestreamed on sunjournal.com Sunday at 1 p.m., are Lewiston goalie Keegan McLaughlin and Falmouth forward Owen Drummey.
Coach Norm Gagne said one of Cassidy’s leadership is one of his biggest assets.
“I think that Will has been a leader for us for two years,” Gagne said. “He has a way of pulling all of the players together. I think he has the right personality; everybody looks up to him and he’s sort of a quiet leader and he leads by example. When he does say something, everybody listens because they respect him. He has a lot of respect in that locker room and he always has. I have noticed that after his sophomore year, a lot of the kids get along with him and he seems to be able to communicate with all the kids.”
Cassidy credits his on the ice success to his teammates, some whom he has been playing alongside for several years.
“I have been playing with some of these guys my entire life,” Cassidy said. “Like Jack Keefe; I have played with him the past four to five years. Marius Morneau has been my defensive partner the last three years. Playing with the same guys my entire life, and it clicked this year. It was really fun.”
One of things that makes Cassidy so valuable on the ice is his intelligence. That trait extends outside of rink, as he’s one of the top students in his class.
Gagne said Cassidy is the “coach” on the ice, and that he is like a quarterback on set plays off of faceoffs because of his knack for getting the puck to the right places.
“He was able to direct some of the players (on) faceoffs and making sure everyone knows their assignments, and during play being able to yell out to a kid who’s in the wrong position and helping him out on where he’s supposed to be,” Gagne said. “The kids can’t always hear us (coaches) from the bench. So, a guy on the ice (like Cassidy) is very valuable, just like our goalie — Gage (Ducharme) does the same type of thing in the defensive zone in helping up out in directing traffic.”
The Class A Boys Hockey Coaches Association was on the fence about awarding the Travis Roy Award this year, since the shorter schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic limited the shortened schedule to regional play. When Travis Roy died last fall, the associated was decided it would hand out the award.
Cassidy knows the history of the award, particularly the Edward Little winners and finalists and other area winners.
“My dad always used to talk about Mat Gordon (former Edward Little defenseman who was a 2010 finalist) and I remember watching Ben Steele play,” Cassidy said. “They are the finalists that I kind of remember and know of them. Hearing the success, they have had introduced me to the Travis Roy Award and lot of the local (players) like Jeromey Rancourt, Ryan Pomerleau and Noah Austin. The local success around here made me truly understand what the award is about and how character matters the most and good people win it. It’s something I try to live up to.”
Cassidy also is well-versed in Travis Roy’s story, having read Roy’s book, “11 Seconds,” and through playing at the Travis Roy Arena in Yarmouth throughout his hockey career.
“It would be the biggest honor,” Cassidy said. “I remember reading his book in middle school and how many people he has inspired, and how great of a person he was mentally and how tough he was. I always tried to use the qualities (I learned) reading his book and try to use them in my daily life. It would be a complete honor to be associated with this award, in general, especially the first year after his passing.”