Keeping Score: A minor disagreement

Published: 5/26/2023 8:28:47 PM
Modified: 5/26/2023 8:28:32 PM

Good morning!
UMass hockey coach Greg Carvel wasn’t happy about a recent column item that he said made him look bad and was a low blow. It implied that U18 star Ryan Leonard might have chosen UMass if Carvel hadn’t benched his older brother for one game in 2020.

At the time Ryan was a 15-year-old phenom at Pope Francis Prep and was still a year-and-a-half from picking BC. When he scored the winning goal to beat Sweden in the U18 world championship in April, I revisited the notion he might be in Amherst if only.

It didn’t take long to get Carvel’s response. “You put the focus on one game instead of John’s three-year career where he was developed into an NHL caliber player,” wrote Carvel.

“John came to UMass undrafted and without great numbers in the USHL and we helped him reach his full collegiate potential. He led the country in goals the year we benched him for a game, and he scored 14 goals over the next 10 games, so maybe it was a good coaching decision.”

Like most good Massachusetts hockey players, Ryan Leonard wants to play in the Beanpot. It’s a fantastic recruiting tool for BC, BU, Northeastern and Harvard, and coaches everywhere have learned to live with it.

“We were told from day one of the recruiting process with Ryan that it was going to be an uphill battle,” said Carvel. “He narrowed his decision down to BC and UMass. He gave us plenty of consideration. We did all we could to influence his decision. I gave up vacation time with my family to do a last minute home visit with Ryan and his father but Ryan said he always wanted to go to college in the city. I respect that. He will be an NHL player some day.”

As for the older brother, John Leonard was traded from San Jose to Nashville at last year’s draft for former first rounder Luke Kunin and a third-round pick. Leonard played for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals but was a late call-up. He scored one goal in six games.

“I have no doubt that sitting John was hard to swallow for him and his parents,” said Carvel, “but it’s called holding players accountable, and I don’t regret my decision. John grew from that incident and it lit a fire under his a**. He went on a scoring rampage, our team started playing at a higher level and he became a legit Hobey Baker candidate.”


Longtime reader Jim Still sent me a note that I saved for this weekend. Still’s son Ryan graduated from Georgetown University and was a midfielder on the Hoyas’ lacrosse team. His coach, Dave Urick, retired with 345 wins which is seventh on the all-time list.

“Dave was one of the greatest lacrosse coaches in the history of the game,” said Still. 

He recalled a game in 2004 when the Hoyas lost a 7-5 heartbreaker to Navy. It was a hard fought, defensive struggle, and Still said, “He pulled his kids together and told them, ‘You take your helmets off, look these guys in the eye and tell them good game – because when the s*** hits the fan in this world, those are going to be the guys protecting all of us.’”

“What an amazing message to say to young college players,” said Still, and what an amazing reminder for Memorial Day.


Dave Zewinski passed away this week. Zew, as his friends called him, was a local kid who went to Four Corners School and made good at DA and Harvard. “He was three days older than me and a legend in Greenfield minor league at 5-10, 165,” wrote Steve Kramer. “If the game was at Lunt 1, they moved the outfielders back to Lunt 2. RIP to a good friend.”

Zewinski was a running back for Big Green coach Jim Smith. He loved football. I was with him when BC beat Texas and the Globe’s headline was “Deep into the Heart of Texas.”

The night Ben Dreith threw the roughing the passer flag on Sugar Bear Hamilton in Oakland, Zewinski picked up his chair and threw it through the TV set.

He was passionate, and his friends loved him for it.


Kudos to Fox Sports for getting Tom Durkin into the catbird seat for the Belmont Stakes. Durkin was on Sirius-XM’s “Down the Stretch” with Bill Finley and said, “These guys are showing an awful lot of confidence in me. If you had a bad tooth, would you go to a dentist that hadn’t pulled one in nine years?”

Railbirds remember Durkin’s calls at the Saratoga summer meet as the straws that stirred the Saratoga Sunrises. His tone and inflection made every race the race of the century and was the first voice people heard over the PA when the gates opened. “Welcome to the Spaaaa…”

“I’ll be working my tail off to get back into race-calling shape,” said Durkin. “I kept voluminous notes, much of it is vocabulary, 80 pages worth of words to say during a horse race.

“The other part is memorization and mental acuity which I gotta tell you is a concern because it doesn’t get better from 64 to 72. No question there’s going to be anxiety involved, but everybody needs a little challenge. It’s part of my soul to do something that’s kind of tough.”


Former TFHS hurler Dakota Smith-Porter is an assistant softball coach at Clinton High School. The Lady Gaels are 16-1 and ranked third in D-4 behind undefeated Joseph Case (18-0) and Hampshire Regional (14-4). According to “Stat Man” Mike Cadran, Smith-Porter played in the glory years from 2010-13 when they were 19-5, 25-0, 23-2 and 20-3 and won two state titles.


SQUIBBERS: Attention all Marty Maroons, the over/under for this year’s UMass football team is 1 1/2 wins. That’s Merrimack, and who’s the other? New Mexico State? Arkansas State? Both? It sure won’t be Auburn, Penn State, Army, Toledo or Liberty. …  One Cup down and One to Go: UMass-Lowell won the 2022-23 Kennedy Cup by going 9-5-2 against the Minutemen in head-to-head competition. Both schools get $10K from John F. Kennedy, but the Cup goes to Lowell. … Texas infielder Marcus Semien has bounced back from going .248 and getting GM Jon Daniels fired. At this writing Semien was batting .301 and leading the league in runs and plate appearances in the second year of his six year, $175 million contract. … Someone should tell the folks at ESPN Sunday Night Baseball to drop the sideshows. Whoever thought it was cool to put a microphone on a player in the field while he’s trying to do his job deserves a special place on the Dan Okrent Fantasy Baseball Circle of Hell. … Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour was in the longest game in college history — the 5 OT win by UMass against Notre Dame — and this year played in the sixth-longest NHL game (Panthers over Carolina in 4 OT). Only Brock Hines would make that connection. … Methinks there must be some discussion in the league office about what to with the Triple-A’s, who at this writing have 10 wins and 40 losses. … Anyone looking for Jose Iglesias? He’s in El Paso batting .280 for the Chihuahuas. … Bill Parcells cuts to the chase. Told of a player’s potential he sneered, “Potential means you haven’t done anything yet.”

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be reached at


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