Benn Ferriero of Top Gun Hockey joins this week’s episode of New England Hockey Journal’s “RinkWise” podcast.
Ferriero, a former NHLer from Essex, Mass., was a star forward at Governor’s Academy and Boston College before signing with the San Jose Sharks in 2009. During his NHL career, he played with some of the top players in the league, including Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski.
Now retired, the 2006 seventh-rounder is mentoring a new generation of talent and helping young area players develop their skills as a coach with Top Gun in Salem, N.H.
Five years after hanging up the skates as a player, Ferriero coaches the program’s U-18 team. In addition to his work behind the bench, he runs summer/spring skills sessions with Real Speed Sports and also helps coordinate the New England fall prep hockey league.
The overall mission of Top Gun is simple, Ferriero said: develop players who are willing to work for their development goals.
Take Kimball Union forward Matthew Maltais, for example. The ’04 senior and Nebraska-Omaha commit from Quebec played for the Top Gun 18s this fall before setting out on his second season of winter prep.
“You just see him keep getting better and better and that’s just what you look for in kids,” Ferriero, 34, said of the rising prep school forward, who signed a BCHL agreement with Alberni Valley for the 2022-23 season on Tuesday.
“You don’t always want the kid who is the stud right off the bat, you want the kid who just keeps getting better year after year. Some kids plateau a little early, but you want the kids who want to be there, who work really hard, and you’ll see that they just keep getting better year after year.”
As important as the on-ice coaching is for the players, Ferrerio said, the onus is on them to determine how far their skills can take them.
“We try to put the kids on the right path but it comes down to them to put in the effort and work on their skills and work on the things that we teach them,” he said.
“One thing that we’re always looking for is a smart hockey player; someone who understands the game, where they’re supposed to be on the ice and things like that.”
With the game evolving, hard work and hockey sense are more important than ever, the former NHLer added.
“It’s not always about who can skate the fastest, you got to understand where to be and where the puck should be and stuff like that, so we try to keep the kids that as much as we can, as well.”
For more from Benn Ferriero on the Top Gun program, his time in the pro ranks, rise to the NHL, and more, listen to the full episode of the NEHJ’s “RinkWise” podcast today.