Governor’s Academy boys prep varsity head coach Brian McGuirk (Danvers, Mass.) joins the latest episode of New England Hockey Journal’s “RinkWise” podcast.
A 2004 graduate of the prep school in Byfield, Mass., McGuirk went on to play four years at Boston University where he skated under legendary coach Jack Parker (Somerville, Mass.), won three Beanpots Tournament Championships and served as team captain during his senior year.
After finishing his collegiate playing career on Comm. Ave., the Columbus Blue Jackets draft selection turned pro and played several seasons in the AHL and ECHL.
Initially on track for a law enforcement career, he made the decision to pursue coaching, and it led him to his alma mater, where he has built some gritty competitive teams in his several seasons behind the Independent School League bench.
In addition to his head coaching position, McGuirk serves as the Director of Top Gun Hockey and Real Speed Sports Training, where he works alongside ex-Governor’s teammate and recent “RinkWise” guest Benn Ferriero (Essex, Mass.)
Ray Diffley, founder and principal of RD3 Education and Advising Center, also joins the show to discuss the benefit of players interested in pursuing education and hockey objectives on a parallel path.
Whether it’s Governor’s or Top Gun, one of the main things that McGuirk stresses to his players is the importance of establishing team-wide respect.
“When you have players who buy in and are supportive of the entire team (not just their linemates or the upperclassman) you build a certain identity in that locker room,” McGuirk, 36, told host Kirk Luedeke.
“When guys are eager to compete for each other and eager to support each other, you get that bond within your whole roster.”
It starts with the captains, the fourth-year ISL head coach said.
“Just stressing to them that that culture, that identity, that kind of atmosphere in the locker room, that starts with them. I don’t micromanage that — that’s on them.
“Obviously, if there are issues that myself and Coach (Mike) Delay have to address, we address them, but we let that kind of manage itself.”
This year, the Governors are led by senior captains Ian Olenik (Windham, N.H.) and the twin Elliott brothers, Kyle and Colin, who hail from Andover, Mass.
“All three of them are very different. Ian has more energy than some of the dogs I’ve had in my past — he’s always going. It doesn’t matter if it’s practice or a game, he’s coming at you at 100 miles per hour, both with his feet and his mouth.
“Colin and Kyle, they’re different, as well. A little more calm and reserved but they play hard, they play heavy and they are very respectful of their teammates.”
While establishing that kind of team-wide respect starts with the captains, so, too, does making sure the team is ready to go on a nightly basis in the ever-competitive ISL Keller.
This season, especially — coming off the disruptions of last year’s Covid-impacted campaign.
“The league’s is as competitive as it’s been. First-place team, eighth-place team, I don’t see much difference,” McGuirk said.
“If you don’t show up and you don’t play the right brand of hockey, regardless of where that team is, you’re at risk of losing that game.”
For more from Brian McGuirk on his time at Governor’s, BU and beyond, check out the full episode of NEHJ’s “RinkWise” podcast today.