HOCKEY PREVIEW: Taken Under Eagles' Wings
Having Benefited From Past Seniors' Hospitality, Whitney, Hayes, And Arnold Pay It Back
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold had their eyes on Steve Whitney—or at least his stunt double, who was in the opposite colored jersey on the ice. It was Hayes and Arnold’s job to help shut him down. The Noble and Greenough School boys’ hockey team strategically worked its defensive zone around the skater designated as Whitney, as the Bulldogs prepared for their game against Lawrence Academy.
On Whitney’s side, his coach at Lawrence Academy pointed out Hayes and Arnold as players to focus in on. They were dangerous in one-on-one situations, and you could not let them beat you, or else.
The Independent School League (ISL) rivals played each other twice a year, meaning Hayes, Arnold, and Whitney prepared plenty of times to face each other—or more importantly, shut each other down. It was a competition for prep school pride, the upper hand in a heated rivalry.
Meanwhile, in the stands sat Boston College head coach Jerry York. Unlike most others at the rink, he was at ease. All he had to do was sit back, relax, and enjoy the 60 minutes of hockey. He had the distinct pleasure of watching the game just knowing that Whitney, Hayes, and Arnold would soon be all skating together within the confines of Conte Forum.
There’s no particular game that York remembers going to watch at either school, but he knows he was there at some point to watch his future players.
“Oh, we must have,” York said. “We must have at some point, because Lawrence and Nobles are real rivals. I can’t remember a distinct Tuesday afternoon at Nobles or at Lawrence, but I’m sure they did. It’s always fun to go to one game and see a number of Eagles coming the next year. That’s kind of neat for us.
“They’re a pretty intense rivalry, especially in the ISL. And you get to maybe appreciate the player on the other team, but not really like him. But all of a sudden he’s on your team, and you appreciate him and like him, which is a nice combination.”
Arnold, now a junior, remembers feeling that kind of relief when he didn’t have to play against Whitney anymore, instead getting to sit alongside the senior assistant captain in the BC locker room.
“It’s probably a good thing,” Arnold said about not having to play Whitney. “It’s definitely a good thing, cause now instead of preparing for him, you get to prepare with him. He makes us better players, and it makes things easier for us out there.”
Hayes and Arnold played together during their first two years of school at Noble and Greenough, and were on the same line in their sophomore year, where they really got to know each other—and Whitney.
“We played the whole entire year together. We were in every class together,” Hayes said. “Then playing against Steve, our goal was to literally just stop him.”
After years of preparing to shut each other down on the ice, Whitney, Hayes, and Arnold have enjoyed much success getting to play with each other while wearing the same uniform. Coming off a national championship last April, the three forwards often saw action together on the power play unit, while Arnold and Whitney played on the same line together for the latter half of the season.
Since all three grew up outside of Boston, they’d often see each other at hockey tournaments for their travel or club teams, sometimes playing with or against each other.
“I think they knew about each other before they knew each other,” said Dave Arnold, Bill’s father. “[Bill] certainly knew who Kevin Hayes was, and I think Kevin knew who Bill Arnold was long before they met each other. We first got to know Kevin when he played for the South Shore Kings and during the summer, he came and played a tournament for the Minuteman Flames. That’s probably the first time that Bill and Kevin met each other, or at least played on their first team together.”
Hayes remembers that tournament being when he and Arnold were around fifth grade.
Meanwhile, Hayes knew of Whitney from hockey tournaments as well, but also because of their older brothers’ involvement in the hockey scene. Jimmy Hayes and Joe Whitney were a year apart, but played on teams together in Massachusetts before both coming to BC to play for York.
“When I was really young, I played with [Steve Whitney], and then just Jimmy playing with Joe and being in the same league and being Mass. guys, we always ran into each other,” Hayes said.
Despite Whitney, Hayes, and Arnold’s similar yet unique routes to BC, it was Joe Whitney who helped facilitate the great friendship that they have today.
In 2010, when Hayes and Arnold were freshmen, Steve Whitney was a sophomore, and his brother was a senior, Joe’s class made sure to make the freshmen feel comfortable. There was no better way to do that than an almost nightly ritual of ordering Fin’s and playing Xbox—Call of Duty, to be exact.
“Just sushi and video games,” Arnold remembered.
“That year, [Joe’s class] did a great job of taking in the young guys,” Whitney said. “And I was still a young guy. Kevin and Bill were young guys. We spent a lot of time with them, just hanging out. They took us under their wing. So that kind of formed a bond between me, Kevin, and Bill, with them taking us in.”
That senior-underclassman bond may seem common in college athletics, but it’s not. Yet it’s something that is certainly part of York’s trademark culture at BC.
“Yeah, I think all the upperclassmen do that,” Dave Arnold said of the seniors taking underclassmen under their wings. “It’s just a good thing they have going at BC. Right from day one, the upperclassmen make the freshmen feel a part of the team. I’ve talked to kids at other schools, and they were like, ‘Yeah, I don’t even know if the seniors know who we are. They haven’t said two words to us. We never hang out with the seniors.’ When Bill heard that, he was like, ‘You’re kidding me. We hang out with the seniors all the time.’ It’s just a culture at BC, that from day one, you’re part of the team, and everybody’s going to look out for you and have your back.”