Almeida Excels In Senior Season As Alternate Captain
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 20:01
For most college seniors, the goal is to live in the moment and not miss a single moment of their final days on campus. Barry Almeida, a soon-to-be graduate of Boston College, has taken this mantra to a whole new level by not only living in the moment but also creating the moment for himself and his teammates.
Growing up in Springfield, Mass., the forward enjoyed great success at Longmeadow High School before taking his game to a whole new level of competition. Leaving behind the comforts of his home, family, and friends, Almeida became a member of the Omaha Lancers of the United State Hockey League (USHL) for the 2007-08 season. Comprised of some of the nation's top talents, the USHL is not an easy place to stand out. Almeida's name stood out.
In 56 regular season games, Almeida notched an impressive 60 points with 22 goals and 38 assists. He was named a member of the All-USHL first team. Even more telling was his performance in the playoffs in which he registered four goals and four assists in 14 games. In the final night of a best-of-five series, he scored the game winning overtime goal to send his team to the Clark Cup title.
Almeida credits this experience as one of the biggest factors in his success at BC.
"Going out there, I didn't know what to expect, being a Mass. kid," he said. "Being a Mass. kid, you never want to leave Massachusetts. You ask yourself, ‘What is it going to be like?' But it ended being one of the best experiences. Being in high school and being 18-years-old and having three, four, or five thousand fans at a game, you're kind of like a celebrity. It's kind of cool. The league is unbelievable and everyone is going to high-end Division I schools from every team."
Much has been made of an eye injury suffered by Almeida during high school. While many players would use this as an excuse for when they don't perform well, Almeida seldom mentions the ailment as having any impact on his game. If anything, the injury has helped him remain focused on his play and helped him mature more quickly.
"It happened two years before I came to BC, so going to Omaha was the real challenge," he said. "It gave me the chance to see what it would really be like to play with it. To be honest, it really hasn't been a factor at all. It's been like this for so long now that I don't really know any different.
"It set me back, and it taught me a lot about myself, too. I wasn't able to play hockey for a while, and for me, that was the hardest thing. My parents helped me out, and kept me positive through the whole thing, so that was good."
Overcoming this injury and playing so well in such a prestigious league allowed Almeida to keep his commitment to BC and make an impact right away. Despite tremendous offensive production before his arrival on the Heights, Almeida was asked to change his style of play by head coach Jerry York. His incredible speed and versatility on the ice made him a perfect two-way player for York's team. This request by his coach necessitated extreme control and focus by the player, but he took it in stride.
"Coming into BC, I was an offensive player," he said. "I didn't play defense. I didn't know anything about it, really. The coaches kind of made me understand the importance. You're not going to play unless you play on the defensive side of the puck. It's helped me grow throughout my career, having that offensive aspect and that defensive mindset, especially at certain points in the game. If you're up a goal, you have to play at the other end."
While the adjustment from being utilized as more of an offensive threat to a defensively oriented weapon was challenging, Almeida has grown into one of the instrumental leaders for the Eagles. Even in his early years on the team, his presence had been an asset that few teams can find. He leads by example, both on and off the ice, which has been a huge advantage for this year's young squad.
"For me, I'm not the greatest vocal leader," he explained. "I really just try to lead by example. I just work as hard as I can, shift in and shift out."
The senior believes that his class has the elements necessary to help the younger players adjust and overcome any learning curve.
"We have great seniors who have been there, as sophomores, when we won the national championship," he said. "So, we know how to win. It's all about getting the younger guys to buy into how we win. It's been tough. We've had a tough stretch here, but with the leaders that we have, I think we can get back on track and make a serious run. That's what happened our sophomore year. We got hot at the right time. And that's really what you have to do."
Though Almeida has posted solid numbers throughout his time at Kelley Rink, this season has seen an astronomical jump in scores for the senior. As of this past weekend, Almeida is second on the team with 24 points. He and Chris Kreider are tied for the team lead with 16 goals. This is already twice as many goals as he has ever had in a full season with the Eagles.