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(2) Bourne
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(2) Canton
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Winner of game : Braintree or Hingham
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MIAA Massachusetts High School Hockey

Andrew LoRusso running with opportunity

Andrew LoRusso interview for My Hockey Live was conducted at the Poccaro Ice Hockey Arena in Revere. Interview conducted by Bill McGunigle

Andrew LoRusso was given an opportunity to man the cage for the St. Mary’s of Lynn Spartans when all-star goaltender Ryan Boarders went down with an injury during the 2014-15 season. With another senior ahead of him on the depth chart, LoRusso didn’t expect he would be getting the call to go in.

But to the surprise of everyone – especially LoRusso – Spartans head coach Mark Lee yelled “hey, LoRusso get in there.”

“Nobody was more shocked than me when I got the call to go in,” LoRusso said.

Asked if he had the butterflies LoRusso replied simply “No.

“I never thought with a senior ahead of me that I even had a chance to go in.”

I happened to be at that particular game and St. Mary’s was trailing at the time LoRusso stepped in.

It was one of those must-win games the Spartans needed to solidify their chances of crashing the Super Eight party in March. A loss here and their season is basically over.

Bishop Fenwick was trying desperately to shock the hockey world with an epic upset and prove they were a team on the rise. They continued to pepper the untested LoRusso right out of the gate with a plethora of quality scoring opportunities – none better than when sophomore Kasey O'Brien found himself in alone on a clear breakaway, going up against his former teammate and lifelong friend with a terrific chance to put this game away. LoRusso was more than up to the task, not only was he denying the Crusaders at every turn, he was making it look effortless. I knew then that I was witnessing a changing of the guard in the St. Mary’s net minding duties.

Andrew plays his position with such poise and with sound mechanics he’s honed over years of goalie specific instruction, all in addition to the countless hours he commits to be with his Spartan teammates training on and off the ice. LoRusso has an uncanny knack of making the impossible save at the most critical juncture in some of the biggest games in his life. He’s a proven winner any coach would be thrilled to have him man their cage. If you get a chance to watch him play, pay attention to what he does between whistles. He is constantly skating to stay loose and keep the energy flowing. He can also be found performing any maintenance to the ice surface for his crease area during a break in the action.

LoRusso carried that experience of the previous season into the 2015 campaign for a team desperate to qualify for the Super Eight. Throughout the season, his play showed that he was clearly one of the top goalies in the state. The consistency of his play throughout the season raised a lot of eyebrows and made people realize how good a player he is. The Spartans had a good season last year but still need to add more offensive firepower to get them to the next level. If the Spartans can score some more goals this year and take care of the offensive end of the ice, coach Lee is pretty confident they will be successful as long as LoRusso is in the net.

This offseason, LoRusso manned the cage for the Greater Boston Vipers hoping to defend last season’s state championship. Playing behind many of the same players he has since he was a pee wee – including Rob Tibbets of Danvers, Sal Costanzo of Gloucester, and Bishop Fenwick's Kasey O'Brien of Bishop Fenwick -- the team successfully repeated as state champs in the U-18 bracket. It would be difficult to find anyone say that they could have done it without Andrew LoRusso between the pipes.

The U-18 Vipers play their fall schedule with the philosophy of getting their players in the optimum shape both physically and mentally for their high school seasons in the winter. Well, coaches Rich Correale and Joe LoRusso have these young men ready to perform at their peak and they are primed for their best seasons yet.

As a senior, LoRusso is hoping for a big year so he may continue his playing career beyond this season. He has been visiting prep schools, hoping a post-graduate year would be just the seasoning he needs to play collegiately.

It is very rare for a high school senior to move directly from high school to a college roster; the spots are limited and the competition is intense, as you are now competing with players from all over the world. Before it was Canada and a few Europeans that made their way here to compete for a college roster spot. The popularity of hockey has exploded to such a point that now you are also competing with kids from states known more for football than for hockey. Take a look at an NCAA Division I roster and you will see just about every state in the US represented, as well as some countries you may never even been heard of. The ages of these players is also stunning; it’s practically the new norm to see 22-year-old freshmen on these rosters.

LoRusso knows his journey is just beginning, and he is willing to sacrifice whatever it takes if it gives him the opportunity to continue playing competitively the game he loves. He knows it's a game he will continue playing into adulthood, but he wants to take this ride as far as he can. Men's leagues can wait.

LoRusso carries himself like a man on a mission and he demonstrates a level of maturity and ambition that is so refreshing to see in such a young man. He is a realist and he knows in order to get to the next level there is only one approach: give it everything you have and you may have a chance.

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