HAMDEN — Entering the high school boys hockey season, Hamden coach Todd Hall admits he did not know what to expect with 14 players from last season lost to graduation.
When the Green Dragons started off 4-0 — they’re 4-2 as of Jan 9 — Hall said he was pleasantly surprised by the early team chemistry despite all the graduated losses. One item that hasn’t surprised Hall is the play and impact of the Gethings brothers — senior and captain John Gethings, junior Michael Gethings and freshman Conor Gethings.
“Losing 14 players to graduation, I didn’t know what to expect and I wasn’t expecting a lot of things, especially this early in the season,” Hall said. “One thing that hasn’t surprised me is the hunger for success all of our players have had and that’s because I saw how hard they worked in the preseason. Another thing that hasn’t surprised me is the impact of all three Gethings brothers. Each one is different and they each bring different things to the team.”
The Gethings brothers have made an impact every game this season on both ends of the ice. One example on offense came in a 7-3 win over SCC/SWC Division I rival Notre Dame-West Haven on Dec. 23. Michael Gethings had two goals and two assists in the win, John Gethings chipped in with a goal and an assist and Conor Gethings added a goal.
While all three Gethings brothers played on the youth hockey level, this season is the moment in time they have all been waiting for in their young hockey careers.
“It has always been the dream of ours to play together on the same team,” said Michael Gethings, who has seven goals and six assists. “This season is the only chance for us to have that opportunity. In youth hockey two of us were on the same team but never all three of us. As the middle brother, I’ve been on the same team with John and when he moved up to the high school team I played on the same team with Conor.”
While their father Stephen Gethings didn’t play high school hockey, the sport has been a big part of the family. Their uncle Sean Donohue, who with Dan Bush own the company that operates the Astorino Rink, was a 1985 Register All-State player for Notre Dame-West Haven. He won D-I titles with ND in 1982 and 1985.
“As for my nephews and Hamden’s success, it’s definitely the result of hard work and a busy off-season of preparation,” Donohue said. “The whole team has worked all summer to be prepared. I am very proud of my nephews. They have gone from giving high fives to receiving them. This was a dream that became a reality for them.”
Another uncle, Mike Gethings, played for Hamden when it won the D-I title in 1986. Their late grandfather John Donohue played hockey for Wilbur Cross (class of 1958) and Providence College and was a long time high school and college hockey official.
“Genetically, I knew what I was getting with the Gethings brothers,” Hall said. “Hockey is a big part of their family. John contributes any way he can. But leadership is one of his biggest qualities and it’s why he was named captain of the team.
“John took the captain role seriously and met with the team in the offseason. He instilled a sense of team unity, a team hunger for post-season goals and dedication to make the most of this season. He got everyone on the same page that can be seen on the ice with our team chemistry. He has made my job easier.”
Michael Gethings and Conor Gethings have contributed in different ways.
“Mike is a talented scorer with a big, strong shot,” Hall said. “He isn’t the fastest skater out there but he always knows how to put himself in position for a goal or to get an assist. Conor is a fierce competitor. Going from playing with 13 year olds in youth hockey to high school against 17 and 18 year olds has been an easy transition for Conor because he has a great hockey IQ. He has made an immediate impact on defense for us.”
For the Gethings, the season has been a lot of fun.
“I’ve always played defense, it’s been a challenge at this level, but I’ve had a lot of fun playing with a great group of guys,” Conor Gethings said. “The coaches and players, especially (assistant coach) Scott Jason and (junior defenseman) Alex Hernandez, made the transition an easy one for me. I love the competition. I love playing with my brothers and I love hitting guys playing defense.”
While their uncles and grandfather were inspirations, all three Gethings brothers agree that their parents Stephen and Margaret Mary Gethings played a big part in their hockey careers too.
“When we were young our parents always brought us to Hamden hockey games,” said John Gethings who has two goals and six assists. “It was so exciting to watch the players compete on the ice and me and my brothers wanted to be a part of that excitement.
“The past couple of games have been a little disappointing but our early success hasn’t been a surprise to me. Every single player on our team works hard, everyone has stepped up and we know what to expect from each other. We have a great group of 23 guys on the team and we are focused when it comes to our post-season goals (SCC/SWC D-I and CIAC D-I titles).”