Gazette Hockey Player of the Year: Ryan Leonard, Pope Francis

  • Ryan Leonard, left, of Pope Francis, shoots while defended by Owen Maguire, right, of St. Mary’s of Lynn, and scores the only goal of the game, Feb. 20, at Olympia Rink in West Springfield. Leonard has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Hockey Player of the Year. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ryan Leonard, of Pope Francis, skates away with his MVP trophy after his team defeated St. Mary's of Lynn in the Cardinal Classic tournament, Feb. 20, at Olympia Rink in West Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ryan Leonard, second from left, of Pope Francis, shoots against St. Mary's of Lynn goalie Sal Caruso while defended by Kory Ouellette, Feb. 20, 2020, at Olympia Rink in West Springfield. Logan Dapprich, center, moves in. Leonard has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Hockey Player of the Year. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ryan Leonard, left, of Pope Francis, goes after Davis Kinne, of St. Mary's of Lynn, Feb. 20, 2020, at Olympia Rink in West Springfield. Leonard has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Hockey Player of the Year. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ryan Leonard, right, of Pope Francis, celebrates his goal against St. Mary's of Lynn with Jack Kennedy, Feb. 20, 2020, at Olympia Rink in West Springfield. Leonard has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Hockey Player of the Year. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Sports Editor
Published: 7/8/2020 5:23:52 PM

Ryan Leonard is quickly catching and in some cases surpassing his big brother on the ice.

The Pope Francis freshman led the Cardinals to a Super 8 Hockey Tournament co-championship. John Leonard and then-Cathedral never reached the finals.

Ryan Leonard led Division 1 in goals with 27. John didn’t lead Division 1 in goals until his junior year.

Both were named “Mr. Hockey” within the state, albeit by different publications and at different times. John’s award came from ESPN Boston during his junior year. Ryan’s award came from neutralzone.net this season.

Both won the Bessone Award as the top player in western Massachusetts, with Ryan winning it two seasons earlier than his brother.

Ryan Leonard beat his brother to another award by two years as he has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Hockey Player of the Year.

John’s scholastic and collegiate career led to him signing with the San Jose Sharks in late March. Meanwhile, Ryan’s accolades come at the start of his high school career. The comparisons will be constant, but the Amherst native says there is no pressure.

“I would say it’s more like just have fun with it and compare what we did,” Ryan said. “It’s a couple conversations we have together.”

High school hockey was a change for Ryan Leonard, who was 14 when the season started. The forward played in his age group growing up until he left the Amherst Hockey Association for the Springfield Rifles.

“A bunch of my friends from around the area that I became very close with are a year older than me,” Leonard said. “When all of us made the move from Amherst Hockey to the Rifles and they were a year over me, I decided to play with them.”

The step up was preparation for when he stepped on the ice with Pope Francis, which plays against the top high school teams from across the state.

“Practicing with the whole Rifles organization, all the age groups, definitely felt weird at moments in the beginning,” Leonard said. “When I went from age group practice to almost college players practice, the speed was very different, intensity was very different and overall skills were very different.”

Leonard said his close friends and fellow Gazette All-Stars Logan Dapprich, of Amherst, and Jack Kennedy, of Granby, assisted with his adjustment at Pope Francis. Dapprich played three years on the blue line for the Cardinals prior to this season, while Kennedy had one year of experience on defense.

“In the beginning, I obviously felt that I wasn’t at the skill and speed as those players were at,” Leonard said. “I needed to make a change so I started to do more off ice just to try and get to their compete level and skill-wise. I wouldn’t say it came easy to me. There were some bumps along the way but it worked out OK.”

Leonard finished with 24 goals and seven assists for the Cardinals, who went 13-4-2 in the regular season.

Leonard had three goals in a 6-1 win over Catholic Memorial in the opening round of the Super 8, then had one goal in a 4-0 win over Boston College High.

The Cardinals lost 2-1 to Arlington High as Leonard was held scoreless. The freshman was injured in Pope Francis’ 3-2 overtime win against St. John’s Prep to advance to the championship. He would have skated with the Cardinals in the finals against Arlington, but the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both teams were named co-champions.

“It’s definitely heartbreaking the way it ended, but I felt that the overall season was very good for the team and our whole school,” Leonard said.

Gazette HockeyAll-Star Team

Carter Beckwith, sophomore, Amherst Regional

Chris Foster, sophomore, Amherst Regional

Jon Hanscom, sophomore, Amherst Regional

Kouji Ishida, junior, Amherst Regional

Brandon Peritz, senior, Amherst Regional

Eli Sloven, senior, Amherst Regional

Chris Buffone, senior, Belchertown

Francis Nigro, senior, Belchertown

Ethan Rajpold, senior, Belchertown

Jake Delisle, senior, Easthampton

Garren Fugiel, senior, Easthampton

Matt Sullivan, junior, Easthampton

Kyle Barnes, junior, Greenfield

Bryan Baumann, senior, Greenfield

Kevin Baumann, sophomore, Greenfield

Jacob Bryant, junior, Greenfield

Riley Drew, senior, Greenfield

Booie Harris, senior, Greenfield

Mike McGoldrick, senior, Greenfield

Sean O’Sullivan, senior, Greenfield

Shane Prusak, freshman, Greenfield

Logan Dapprich, senior, Pope Francis

Jack Kennedy, sophomore, Pope Francis

Ryan Leonard, freshman, Pope Francis

Matt Pelletier, senior, Pope Francis

Evan Phaneuf, junior, Pope Francis

Brandon Spaulding, junior, Pope Francis

Ben Zaranek, junior, Pope Francis

Matt Brunelle, junior, South Hadley

Anthony Cigal, junior, South Hadley

Mike Mazza, senior, South Hadley

Joe Meon, sophomore, South Hadley

Cam Pete, junior, South Hadley

Ryan Tucker, junior, South Hadley




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