Kimball Union Academy hockey wrapped up its first-ever Flood-Marr Holiday Tournament championship on Sunday with a 4-2 win over Westminster School. The Wildcats were led by senior forward Nick Roberto, who earned the tournament’s David Rogerson Trophy as its MVP.
Roberto, a Maine commit and Wakefield, Mass. native, also became the first KUA player to take home MVP honors since 1975.
Considered one of the top prep hockey teams in New England entering the 2012-13 season, the Wildcats are in the hunt for another NEPSAC championship this year.
We caught up with Roberto, who started his high school hockey career at Malden Catholic, in between games on Friday:
Q: You have some pretty skilled players beside you on your line with Casey Miller and J.D. Dudek. How do your skills complement each other?
A: “We’re always on the same page. We’re not selfish players, we’re always looking for each other. I like Casey because I’ve been playing with him for two years now. He’s a pass-first and shoot-second kind of player. He’s always looking. Dudek came over [transfer from Pinkerton Academy] and he’s just a hell of a player, he’s going to [Boston College], that says a lot. He brings a lot of skill to the line. I’m more of a grind-it-out player, but Casey and him, it’s all skill. That goal, my first goal [on Friday] was all Dudek, Casey drove the net and I was high and Dudek just made a nice pass. I was lucky to get it underneath the crossbar. And then, at the end of the game … At first, I thought it was going to be a little bit scary, but we got it. Casey just found a little hole on the ice and I tipped [the shot] up and batted it out of midair.”
Q: The tournament started a little tough for you guys, but you took over the third period of your first game against Salisbury with your two goals, including the game-tier and the game-winner. What was the difference?
A: “I think I played the worst two periods of my life, then the third period, Coach [Mike Levine] just told everybody to relax. I was a little snake-bitten with my stick and then I just came alive in the third. But it was a team effort.”
Q: You have a very talented roster and, as a result, there’s high expectations again for this team this year. What do you expect of yourselves as a team?
A: “I think today [Friday] really showed what we’re made out of as a team. It was the first time we’ve been losing for two periods and we fought back. No one gave up. Everybody was really positive on the bench, and that helps a lot. Coach wasn’t negative. He’s always helping us, encouraging us. We just starting playing hard, getting shots to the net and good things happened.”
Q: You have a couple of your old Malden Catholic teammates – Connor Evangelista and Brendan White – playing with you. What’s it like having been around those guys for so long?
A: “Well, Connor and I have been best friends since we were about three years old. We’ve gone to every school together: preschool, elementary school, middle school, MC and now here. We were roommates last year. Brendan came along this year, and I’m roommates with [Providence College commit] Niko Rufo this year, but I think Whitey’s in our room more than we are. It’s just fun up there with those two because we’ve been friends for such a long time.”
Q: You’re still a couple years away from Maine, but what are your hockey plans from here?
A: “I went up there a couple of weeks ago, I saw them play BC and we talked after the game. They said they don’t have that many openings for 2013, so then I can play a year of juniors and step right in and play. I’m fine with that, they’re really supportive of me – whatever helps. I’m not looking to go to college right now with the economy being what it is. I might as well live the dream some more and I’ll get there when I get there.”