Winthrop is the hockey town that produced an Olympic hockey captain and gold medalist, an NHL No. 1 draft pick and other draft selectees, a Boston Bruins player, the reigning NWHL MVP, a three-sport Division 1 college athlete, current college coaches and scores of college menâ€™s and womenâ€™s hockey players from Merrimack, Holy Cross and Bentley to BU, Harvard and Yale.
One Winthrop product played college and professional hockey and is now the general manager of major television stations originating in Boston. Even Winthropâ€™s all-time greatest football coach once played professional ice hockey.
For several notables in the townâ€™s hockey royalty mentioned above and many currently playing hockey for Winthrop High, it all began at Larsen Rink as a participant in the Winthrop Youth Hockey Association.
The WYHA program is still going strong â€“ even in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic that has affected overall enrollment. Some regional club programs also cut into Winthropâ€™s numbers.
Steve Indrisano is in his seventh season as president of Winthrop Youth Hockey. Indrisano said that this yearâ€™s boys and girls divisions (ages 8-14) consist of 100 players who have begun practices and games. The Learn To Skate and In-House Mite Development Program (ages 5-7) will begin in October.
The boysâ€™ traveling teams compete in the Valley Hockey League. The girlsâ€™ traveling teams play in the Middlesex Yankee Conference Girls League.
The players are adhering to strict state-ordered social distancing guidelines, including the wearing of masks during faceoffs. The coaches wear masks on the bench while the players sit apart.
â€œWeâ€™ve started our season and everything is going well,â€ said Indrisano, whose daughter, Francesca, plays on the girls U-12 team. â€œWeâ€™ve had larger numbers (150-200 players) in the past. A lot of other programs have had mergers.â€
Interestingly, the Revere, East Boston, Everett, and Malden programs now play under the banner of the East Coast Junior Patriots. Winthrop does welcome players from other communities.
â€œWe open our doors to the other communities as well, so we do have youths from Revere and East Boston playing hockey for us,â€ said Indrisano.
The players are sporting new Winthrop Vikings uniforms that were supplied by former Winthrop High sports star Jimmy Gillis, owner of the Winthrop Pro Shop. The uniforms have the playersâ€™ names on the back of the jerseys.
One major contributor to the success of the program has been Anthony Martucci, who has led the girls hockey teams to several state titles and put the Winthrop High girls program on the map. The Martucci family has been a generous supporter of Winthrop Youth Hockey.
Players can still sign up for the 2020-21 season.
â€œIf anybody is interested in playing, they can reach out to a member of our board and weâ€™ll place them properly so they can play hockey,â€ said Indrisano. â€œWe just had a Bantam-age player return to the sport after four or five years away. Weâ€™re happy to do that.â€