Amherst native Ryan Leonard commits to Boston College hockey

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 08-01-2021 8:24 PM

Ryan Leonard wanted to start his own legacy, not follow his family’s.

The Amherst native and former Pope Francis forward announced his commitment to play hockey for Boston College on Sunday in an Instagram post.

“It’s nothing against other schools, but I’ve always wanted to go to a Boston school, and it came down to which one felt like home to me,” Leonard said. “BC did.”

External factors seemed to be pushing him toward his hometown school and team, UMass. His older brother, John Leonard, played hockey under Greg Carvel for three years and is now a member of the San Jose Sharks. His dad — John Leonard Sr. — was a UMass basketball assistant from 2001-05, and his sister Alyssa Leonard worked for UMass’ marketing department for nearly three years.

But that wasn’t Ryan Leonard’s path.

“Nothing against UMass. I know John loved it there, and the coaching staff is unbelievable. It’s nothing against the program, that just hasn’t been my dream,” Ryan Leonard said. “My brother’s dream was to play in front of his hometown. I wanted to play in the Beanpot.”

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He also considered Boston University and Northeastern but landed quickly on the Eagles and Chestnut Hill.

“I love the campus,” said Leonard, 16. “I fell in love the day I first saw it.”

He’ll be joining one of the most successful programs in college hockey history. Boston College has won five national championships, the last in 2012. They’ve also reached 25 Frozen Fours, tied with Michigan for the most in history. Eagles coach Jerry York is the winningest coach in college hockey history with 1,108 victories. He’s been at BC since 1994, and the program has produced 18 first-round NHL draft picks and four Hobey Baker winners under his tenure.

BC battled North Dakota for the No. 1 ranking for most of last season but fell to St. Cloud State in the regional final.

“They have a tremendous amount of success that goes a long way back there,” Leonard said. “Hopefully, I can be a part of that.”

He still has some time, though. Leonard will join BC as part of its 2023 recruiting class, he said. He won his second consecutive Bessone Award as the Western Massachusetts player of the year after another 20-goal season for Pope Francis and will join the USA men’s national team development program, a two-year residency program for high-performance players, until he becomes eligible to play for the Eagles. Leonard will leave for the Plymouth, Mich., squad at the end of the month, he said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>