Thursday, November 06, 2014

UNH Freshman Rich Boyd Hosts Big Brother and Michigan State Senior Ron Boyd

UNH's Rich Boyd
Michigan State's Ron Boyd

This weekend will be a special time for the Boyd family of Lake Worth, Florida. Don and Karen Boyd's oldest son Ron (R.J.) and the Michigan State hockey team are in Durham, NH for a pair of Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge games. As fate would have it, their youngest son Rich Boyd will be in a UNH Wildcat uniform on the opposite side of the Whittemore Center ice.

The Boyd brothers - Ron, Rich, and Sam, who plays for UMass Boston - fell in love with hockey while growing up in Fort Myers, Florida. They learned the game at a twin-rinks facility next to the Red Sox spring training camp. They progressed with the guidance of the Florida Eels hockey organization. Ron was recruited to play hockey for Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, MA and both brothers, and sister Maggie, followed the same path.

A month after graduating from Cushing Academy, Ron (R.J.) Boyd was selected by the Florida Panthers in the 7th round of the 2010 NHL Draft. He was the second-ever, Florida-born player to be drafted into the NHL. Ron accepted a full scholarship at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut but played in only 15 games before deciding that the caliber of play in the Atlantic Hockey Association was not high enough.

Ron played the remainder of the 2010-11 season with the Chicago Steel in the USHL and then played a year with the Indiana Ice. He entered Michigan State as a sophomore in the 2012-13 season and has been a stalwart on the Spartans' defense ever since. So far this season, the 6'2", 206 lbs. defenseman has posted a goal and an assist in 6 games and has a +/- rating of +3. Ron has 15 shots on goal.

Last year, Rich Boyd capped off a successful prep school career at Cushing Academy. Over the four seasons he played for Cushing Head Coach Rob Gagnon (a former UNH player) Boyd scored 21 goals and 57 assists. He was a captain of the Penguin squad in his junior and senior years and was named to the All-New England Team by the New England Prep School coaches in his final season.

When Rich Boyd committed to UNH back in August, 2013, he did not anticipate enrolling at UNH until the Fall of 2015. However, last May, when UNH senior Justin Agosta decided to play his final year of eligibility at Quinnipiac University, a slot opened up for Boyd to enroll a year early. That has provided the unique opportunity for 19-year-old Rich Boyd to play against 23-year-old brother Ron in an NCAA Division I game.

In addition to Justin Agosta, UNH lost standout defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk and Eric Knodel at the end of last season. That has provided freshmen Boyd, Cameron Marks, John Furgele and Dylan Chanter the opportunity to play substantial minutes early in the 2014-15 season. Rich Boyd has played in the last 5 UNH games and has posted 2 assists and a +/- rating of -1. The 6'3", 182 lbs., left-shot defenseman has 11 shots on goal which is the second most among UNH defensemen (Brett Pesce has 18 SOG).

A couple weekends ago, Rich Boyd was in the starting lineup against Colorado College. He played on the first defensive pairing with Brett Pesce. As the highlight video shows, Boyd assisted on Maxim Gaudreault and Andrew Poturalski. Boyd has also been logging substantial minutes on the UNH power play and the video shows some of his shots on goal.

I had an opportunity to interview Rich about his brother Ron, the upcoming Michigan State games, and his season so far:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Last season, you were a senior at Cushing Academy on track to enroll at UNH in 2015, and your brother Ron was a junior defenseman for Michigan State. Did you ever imagine that you'd be playing against Ron in a NCAA game?
Rich Boyd: No, I didn't really think about it because I knew that he would be gone by the time I got to UNH, but I knew that Michigan State was on the schedule for the 2014 year and thought wow that would be cool to play against him. I'm very thankful and happy to be getting this opportunity.

Mike Lowry: You and your brothers Ron and Sam grew up playing hockey with the Florida Eels organization in Fort Myers, Florida. Did you all begin skating at the same time? Did you always want to play defense like your brothers?
Rich Boyd: Well, it all started out front of the house in the street when I was three. We were always outside playing street hockey and one day we drove up to the local ice/roller rink and bought some equipment and joined the rec program there.
After a while the ice hockey coach saw us Boyd boys racing around the rink and decided to ask my dad if we could come over to the ice side and give that a try. It only took once and we were hooked.
When I started I was a forward but R.J and Sam were defensemen. I played forward all the way through Peewees until my coach moved me back on D because we were short a few and I just never went back to forward after that.

Lowry: You and Sam followed Ron to Cushing Academy. What attracted you and your brothers to the prep school in central Massachusetts?
Boyd: Well, we knew that Cushing was not only a great hockey school but a great academic opportunity for us. Coach Rob Gagnon recruited R.J and found out he had 2 little brothers and a little sister for the girls team. After that it just started a pipeline of defensemen for Coach Gagnon.
Cushing had a great feeling to it. It for sure had a warm home feeling to it also and we all knew Cushing was the place for us four Boyd's to call home for our high school careers.

Lowry: Ron played in the USHL before enrolling at Michigan State but you made the jump to Division I hockey directly from prep school. What are the main differences you've noticed between prep and college hockey?
Boyd: The pace. Everyone up here is fast and strong. Adjusting to the pace was a major factor and getting stronger because there are no 15-16 year old kids in college. There are 20-23 year old men that your fighting in the corners and in front of the net.

Lowry: I've read that your family has roots in Michigan. What was it like to play your first college game against Michigan in Ann Arbor?
Boyd: It was awesome. Yost Arena is a awesome place to play in. Having some of my family there to support me was an awesome feeling and a great way to start off my college career.

Lowry: You've played in 5 straight games and posted 2 assists with UNH. How would you evaluate your play so far?
Boyd: I think there is still a lot of room for improvement in my game. Everyday in practice, I try to get better. Learning new stuff to make me a better player, but when it comes to games I have a great team with me that makes my job a little bit easier for me.

Lowry: After a pair of loses last weekend to UMass Lowell, what has the team been focusing on in practice this week?
Boyd: Well, we broke down the film from last weekends' games and saw what we needed to work on. Now we have been working on that stuff this week, but what happened last weekend is in the past and there is nothing we can do about it now. All we are focused on right now is who is next and that is Michigan State.


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