Simply stated, Catholic Memorial senior center Liam Coughlin is tearing it up this season.
The left-handed-shooting South Boston native leads Division 1 skaters and is tied for the statewide scoring lead with 31 points (20 goals, 11 assists), according to the stats kept by masshshockey.com.
Coughlin, who began playing with the Knights for his sophomore season after a year in juniors, has showed flashes of brilliance in the last two seasons, but the captain has broken out in 2012-13. And what has made Coughlin’s season so dynamic is not only his ability to put the puck in the back of the net, he’s made his linemates better in the process
“If you’re from Southie, everybody learns how to have everyone’s back,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said. “That’s one of Liam’s greatest qualities, he has everyone’s back on the team. That’s a characteristic that all Southie hockey players, or athletes for that matter, share.”
We caught up with Coughlin on Friday for this Q-and-A:
Q: What ultimately led you to CM after going the junior route?
A: “I was used to the high intensity and the hard work that I needed to do to play at a high level. It made me a better player, but I wanted to go to a Super 8 and play for Coach Hanson.”
Q: Coach Hanson told me earlier in the year that something clicked for you in the offseason. What has been the difference this year?
A: “I was a lot more confident coming in. I worked a lot harder in the offseason this year than I have in the past. I worked with my cousins [former college hockey players] Tommy Regan and Sean [Regan]. I’d work out with them at Motivated Fitness in Boston. Sometimes we’d do circuit running and swimming at the beach in the summer.”
Q: Coach also told me you have interesting pre-game routine.
A: “Yeah, pregame’s I’ll mix in running and some yoga. I like yoga, it’s peaceful when you’re in the postures. It helps relax me before games.”
Q: You’ve been playing alongside Jack O’Hear for most of your time at CM and Kevin Hock worked into the mix on your line last year as an eighth-grader. How have your linemates contributed to your success so far this season?
A: “They both work hard, they get me the puck, and they give it back. We’re unselfish with the puck. We do things right in practice and it pays off. We try to play both ways, too. When you play well defensively, the goals will come. You have to take care of things in your own end.”
Q: This team has struggled to score in the last couple seasons and has missed the tournament as a result. Is it a matter of the team playing with more confidence this season?
A: “We started popping them in early, in our game-scrimmages and then once we started the regular season. It’s been a bunch of people scoring. We had a couple people with eight goals, six goals, a ton of people with two goals. Everybody’s doing their part.”
Q: You’re a pretty quiet guy off the ice, but do Southie guys play the game any differently? Is there a chip you carry on your shoulder into the rink?
A: “Definitely … (Pauses) Just like Coach Hanson. (Hanson, in the background starts laughing.) … I like to play physical, mean. My attitude completely changes when I’m on the ice.”