‘Youth hockey teaches you about work ethic, team work and … life’

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Love of the game starts youth hockey programs.
Love of the game starts youth hockey programs.

MANCHESTER, NH – On a nightly basis, the best hockey players in the world can be found zipping around ice rinks from New Hampshire to Russia, playing a game revolving around speed, precision and skill. While it’s easy to think that these world-class athletes were just born with natural ability, the vast majority of professional hockey player’s careers started by playing youth hockey as a child.

Manchester Monarchs assistant coach Jeff Giuliano might be the best example of the benefit of participating in youth hockey, as the Nashua native took his love of the game from the Granite State to Germany, with a stop in Los Angeles over a 13-year professional career.

Coach Jeff Giuliano
Coach Jeff Giuliano

“I started playing hockey when I was about four years old,” Giuliano said. “My parents got me on skates at a young age, taking my sister and me to local rinks. I remember hating it at first, but the more I skated, the more I fell in love with it.”

Giuliano quickly became enamored with the game, and played for the Gate City Wings as a youngster.  Giules, as he is known to his players, got his first taste of the Boston Garden ice when his Mini One-on-One team made the elimination round of a tournament held at the historic building back in the 1991-92 season.

After competing with the Wings, Giuliano moved on to play with the Manchester Flames and the Boston University Junior Terriers before heading to St. Paul’s (Concord) for high school and then Boston College.

“I started playing on one team a season, but once the travel teams started, it was a lot of hockey all over New England,” Giuliano said. “Back when I was playing, youth hockey wasn’t as big as it is today, so we were traveling all over the region to play games.”

When Giuliano made it to the Flames, he said former coaches Jim Barton and Bill Matthews were important influences in his hockey development, but more importantly, in his personal development.

Jeff Giuliano in action for the Monarchs.
Jeff Giuliano in action for the Monarchs.

“Coach Barton was the one who pushed me the most on the ice, and he really encouraged me to keep playing,” Giuliano said. “When I got a little older, Bill Matthews really helped me with my confidence. It was Matthews who helped me get noticed by some of the better junior programs in the area, and that really helped me in my path to the NHL.”

Giuliano’s ascension to the pros after participating in youth hockey is a story that can be repeated by almost every Manchester Monarchs player, including captain Matt MacKenzie.

“Youth hockey played a huge part in getting me to where I am today,” MacKenzie said. “It taught me discipline, hard work and many skills I still apply to my daily life. Most importantly, I had a lot of fun and made some lifelong friends and memories I will never forget.”

Fellow Monarchs teammate Troy Power had a similar feeling about his youth hockey days growing up in Southern California.

“Youth hockey is important because it doesn’t just teach you about the sport,” Power said. “Youth hockey teaches you about work ethic, team work and many other valuable skills that will be important throughout life.”

Children of Manchester and the surrounding area are fortunate that there is a strong youth hockey presence in the city, with the Manchester Regional Youth Hockey Association (MRYHA) so close by. The purpose of the organization is to give children the ability to play organized hockey no matter the skill level, as the program ranges from first-time skaters to high school players.

“Getting involved in youth hockey as a coach is beneficial in many ways,” MRYHA coach, Darren O’Toole said. “As a coach, we are able to pass on our love of the game to the players.  It’s so rewarding to see the smiles on the players’ faces when they are on the ice. There is nothing like the game of hockey, and to have a helping hand in making sure the game continues to thrive is incredible.”

O’Toole also sees the benefits of participating in youth hockey in life beyond the ice, as he is able to see growth in the young children he coaches.

“Being involved [in youth hockey] helps develop these kids going forward,” O’Toole said. “The kids get to work together as a team to achieve a common goal, and it’s something I hope they will take with them for the off the ice and through their lives.”

With all of the lessons that are available to be learned, having fun is at the core of youth hockey, and something Giuliano always preaches. “Get your kids out there as much as you can because that’s how they will develop, but make sure they are always having fun.”


The Monarchs will host their annual Youth Hockey Night on Saturday, Feb. 20 (7 p.m.) when they host the Reading Royals at the Verizon Wireless Arena. “Jersey” rally towels will be given away to the first 4,000 fans through the doors, courtesy of Plymouth Rock Assurance.  One lucky youth hockey player will also have the chance for a post-game meet and greet and locker room tour with their favorite Monarchs player.

Tickets for “Youth Hockey Night” are on sale now! To purchase your tickets, contact the Front Office at 603-626-7825 of click HERE!


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Love of the game starts youth hockey programs.
Love of the game starts youth hockey programs.

About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!