USA TODAY High School Sports Awards: Rhode Island hockey standout Owen Leahy embraces coaching, teamwork
Having just completed his high school sophomore season, it hasn't taken Rhode Island hockey phenom Owen Leahy long to establish himself as one of the nation's premiere players.
However, the Boys Hockey First Team All-State performer who played a vital role in helping his team to the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Division I Co-State Championship, recognizes no one attains success alone.
"It's great and I'm proud to have honors, but I definitely couldn't have done it without coaching and my teammates," Leahy, who notched 11 goals and nine assists while helping Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick to a 12-2-1 campaign, said. "The sport of hockey isn't just a one-man game. We want to get better every practice and every game. If we do that, we're going to reach that final goal."
Due to his phenomenal season and career so far, Leahy has been named an honoree for the national USA TODAY High School Sports Awards show, presented by U.S. Polo Assn. The on-demand show will begin streaming on the show website, YouTube and the USA TODAY News and USA TODAY SportsWire channels on Roku, Tubi and most smart TVs Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern.
More: Just announced: Here are the honorees for the national USA TODAY High School Sports Awards
Leahy's coach, Mike Soscia, pointed to a prime attribute that contributes to the sophomore's rise within the sport.
"He's very coachable," Soscia said. "I think that's the number one thing. Everything we gave him, he took it and found success. You don't become player of the year by not doing hard work on and off the ice. He's a good student and although he was only a sophomore and not a captain, he led by example. The kids look up to him."
With the start of Rhode Island's high school hockey season delayed until January of this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hawks encountered an outbreak shortly after the season began and posted a couple of overtime losses.
After a rocky start, the Hawks soon embarked on an eight-game winning streak that catapulted them to the state finals versus Mount St. Charles Academy. However, a Mount St. Charles Academy player tested positive for COVID-19 and after RIIL officials met with administrators from both schools, it was decided the best-of-three series would be canceled. It was mutually agreed the schools would be declared 2021 Boys Ice Hockey Co-State Champions.
"I was one of those kids who got COVID," Leahy said with regard to the January COVID-19 outbreak. "I hadn't skated in two weeks, so the season started off a little rough. It was hard, but we did it, thanks to the bonds we created. All of these guys are like brothers to me. I'm looking forward to playing with the guys again, a new season and a fresh start. I enjoy creating friendships and going to practice."
Leahy, who follows the play of Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Pittsburgh Penguins center Patrice Bergeron, was introduced to hockey by an older cousin and he has also played baseball. But lacing up the skates and hitting the ice has become his passion.
"I've been doing a lot of camps and working with Coach Soscia every Thursday," Leahy said with regard to his summer exploits. "We work on two-on-one stuff, trying to create space for yourself. And working without the puck is a big thing that we do. I love learning about the game and the lessons it offers."
Soscia said Leahy was a highly regarded player when he arrived on the Bishop Hendricken High School campus and his development has continued.
"We had a scrimmage with a school in Massachusetts and during one of his first shifts he demonstrated he was more skilled than the other players he was on the ice with," Leahy saidd. "He bumped into a kid and probably went five or six feet back. He was 14 going against 18-year-old players. He grew from that. He absorbed it and understood it. He hasn't looked back."
Soscia described Leahy as an offensive threat who has become a complete two-way player. He added that Leahy's hockey IQ and skill set separate him from everyone else.
"I'm not the biggest guy, so I have to use my speed to my advantage," Leahy said. "I enjoy the challenge of improving and helping to make the team better."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: High School Sports Awards: Meet Rhode Island hockey phenom Owen Leahy