The Day – Today’s All-Round Hockey Player of the Year: Eastern Connecticut’s Anthony Gesino

Coach Randy Craig usually waits until after the first week of preseason practice to name the captains of the Eastern Connecticut Eagles hockey team.

He made an exception with Anthony Gesino, whom he had selected months before.

“What Anthony particularly brings to the table is unparalleled leadership,” Craig said. “It was a huge difference in the locker room, on the ice, in off-ice practices. That leadership has come a long way. … I picked him early based on his work ethic in the offseason and of his level of maturity.

Gesino provided valuable leadership for the Eagles, who battled adversity during the regular season and eventually won the Nutmeg Conference tournament title. A senior from East Lyme, he scored the winning goal.

Gesino was named 2022 All-Round Hockey Player of the Year by The Day. He also earned Second-Team All-State Second-Team All-Nutmeg Conference and Connecticut High School Coaches’ Association Division II honors.

“The reason he’s player of the year is simple: he’s not asking anyone to do anything he won’t do,” Craig said. “And he leads by example every day at every event. Never takes a shift, never takes part in a training session. It’s 100 per cent all the time. And you know it’s up to you. 100% even when you’re not watching. I know it happens all the time because it’s a character story.”

As a fourth-year member of the co-op program — who didn’t compete last year due to COVID-19 — Gesino has risen to the challenges that come with being captain on a team with around 40 players on the roster. listing. He worked with players of different levels and of different ages.

Craig trusted Gesino to organize off-ice workouts. Gesino also organized team building activities such as kick ball games, flag football and quizzes.

“It’s tough when you’re the new kid on the block,” Craig said. “But it’s really difficult when you’re the leader and you have so many kids looking to you to take the leadership and spending time with each of them to talk.

“That’s the kind of character that Anthony has. … At 17, he takes the time to be as inclusive as possible with the time he has to talk to players who aren’t as good or who don’t are not.” they won’t be college players.”

Gesino, who considers himself soft, isn’t afraid to speak frankly to his teammates. He welcomed the chance to impact the team with his hockey abilities as well as his leadership.

“I thought it was very rewarding,” Gesino said of his role as captain. “There were obviously a lot of challenges that we faced last year and we had to overcome them. I used it as a learning opportunity for me to grow and help some of the younger guys.

“…There’s definitely been a learning curve. I wouldn’t say being a leader comes naturally to me. I’ve always been the kind of guy who’s first and last. I’ve been very tenacious throughout my athletic career. But I really had to step up when it comes to the real part of leadership, like being articulate with people and making sure I get my points across.

“I’ve never been a great public speaker. The pre-game pep talk, there’s definitely a few that I dropped the ball on. I would say at the same time, I am always someone people come to for advice in our sport and i am always willing to give it directly to people, telling them what they need to improve and how i can help them.

Gesino has also worked hard to improve his all-around game. He entered his senior season much stronger and faster than the previous year, according to Craig.

He willingly made sacrifices for the good of the team.

For example, Gesino switched positions around mid-season, moving from defense to center, a position he played at youth level but not in high school.

“He responded,” Craig said. “He scored goals. And he never complained.”

The Eagles also responded, bringing positive momentum to the Nutmeg Conference tournament.

In the championship game, the Eagles faced Woodstock Academy, a team they lost to twice during the regular season.

Gesino’s line produced the opening goal in his first shift of the game and he scored the eventual winner of the game as he snagged home a rebound in a 3-2 win.

It was the highlight of the season for Gesino, who hopes to become a coach one day.

“It was indescribable,” Gesino said of his goal. “It’s something you always dream of, scoring the winning goal that seals the deal and wins a championship. It was amazing.”

Gesino, a dual-sport athlete, is also captain of the East Lyme lacrosse team this spring. He plans to attend Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. He will play lacrosse and major in biomedical engineering.

“I’ve always loved biology and anatomy,” Gesino said. “It kind of combines the two. I’m looking forward to working with prosthetics. That’s the area I want to go into, working with prosthetics, so helping people, whether they’re veterans or people born without a limb. I want to connect it to sports, too.

“One of my dreams would be to work with the Paralympic Games and help equip people with prosthetics that are going to compete at that level. I want to be involved in the sport, I want to help people and I just want to make a difference. And I think that would be a good way to make a difference.”

g.keefe@theday.com

Catherine J. Martinez