Every year, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association pairs up with the Boston Bruins to award a sportsmanship award to one individual from each high school hockey league in the state. According to the MIAA, the award goes to a player who “best exemplifies the highest standards of fair play and sportsmanship.” This year, Old Rochester Regional High School senior and Rochester resident Garrett Peterson was selected by the South Coast Conference to receive the award.
Peterson, a defenseman who has played ice hockey on the Old Rochester/Fairhaven team for all four years of high school, attended a ceremony at the TD Garden on April 8 to receive the award. He and the other recipients watched the Bruins battle the Carolina Hurricanes, and during the second intermission, he was presented the medal by Bruins legend Johnny Bucyk.
Peterson had good reason to be selected. Sportsmanship aside, he led the ORR/Fairhaven Bulldogs to their first outright South Coast Conference title in 30 years. Along with seniors Cam Severino, Cam O’Connor, Nick Johnson, and Zack Matthews, Peterson led a team of 10 underclassmen (including his younger brother, Zach) and four eighth-graders to a playoff berth, where they lost to Scituate High School in the opening round.
But Peterson exhibited a lot more than just skill: His sportsmanship and hard work left nothing to be desired. Coach Eric Labonte, who transformed an inexperienced Bulldog team into a SCC championship team in his first year, had nothing but praise for Peterson.
“In my 18 years of coaching high school hockey, Garrett Peterson is the most polite, kind-hearted student athlete I have ever met,” Labonte said. “He was always positive, no matter what the situation. He always gave 100 percent of his very best effort and always put his team first.”
In the hard-hitting game of ice hockey, it’s difficult to demonstrate conduct and poise while simultaneously leading a team to victory, but Peterson was able to juggle his responsibilities as a player and as a leader for the Bulldogs. Because of his camaraderie and love of the game, Garrett joins Patrick Haverty as one of two Bulldogs to ever receive the award in its eleven years of existence.
Peterson is an honor roll student at Old Rochester, and will be attending Wentworth Institute of Technology, where he will major in electro-mechanical engineering.
By Michael Kassabian