Excellence on Ice

Nick Sasso carries on family tradition at Fenwick

Nick Sasso certainly had big skates to fill in the family. His father, Jim Sasso, was a high school hockey star at Malden Catholic and went on to play hockey at UConn, one of the best Division 1 collegiate athletic programs in the nation.

But Nick Sasso, son of Jim and Carolyn Sasso of Revere, has been carrying on the family tradition in admirable fashion since his days in the Revere-Everett Youth Hockey program. Nick just wrapped up his interscholastic career as an assistant captain and four-year varsity player for the Bishop Fenwick ice hockey team.

Nick and his parents were honored at the Bishop Fenwick Senior Night ceremony at the McVann-O’Keefe Skating Rink in Peabody, the Crusaders’ home arena. A special guest at the ceremony was Nick’s younger brother, Anthony, a 15-year-old defenseman for the Fenwick varsity team.

“Senior Night was a good experience,” said Nick. “It was cool to have both my parents there for one game.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some high schools did not allow any spectators at games while others allowed one parent per player. The coronavirus limited Fenwick’s season to only 10 games and a 3-6-1 record among some rule adjustments.

“We could check, but there were only two players allowed in the corners for the puck – if a third player went into the corner, the referee would whistle the play and there would be a faceoff,” related Nick. “It did change your mindset while you were on the ice.”

Ascension to the top line

After attending Our Lady of Assumption School (grades K-8) in Lynnfield, Nick began his high school career as a fourth-line freshman center but advanced quickly and eventually solidified his spot on the top lines during his junior and senior seasons.

From a team standpoint, Nick’s junior season was the highlight as the Crusaders, playing in the highly competitive Catholic Central League, won 11 games, claimed the league title, and qualified for the State Tournament.

At 6-feet, 4 inches and 190 pounds, Nick used his Eric Lindros-type size to his advantage on faceoffs, rink-length rushes, and around the net.

Fenwick Coach Jim Quinlan and Nick’s linemates, Max Vieira, Manny Segee, and Kevin Wood appreciated the Revere skater’s talent and toughness on the team’s most productive line. Quinlan also singled out Nick’s impressive leadership skills.

“Nick is just a great kid,” said Quinlan, who coached Saugus High to back-to-back state titles in the early 2000s. “His teammates really admired and respected him.”

Quinlan said Nick’s improvement was steady and he emerged as a go-to player last season.

“He’s a very skilled hockey player who came on strongly for us last year and helped us win a conference title for the first time ever in Division 1,” said Quinlan. “We were 7-2-1, beat St. Mary’s twice and Austin Prep  and tied with Austin Prep for the conference title. We had a really good year before COVID hit [in the 2020-21 season].”

Quinlan also spoke highly of Nick’s brother, Anthony, and his contributions to the program as a first-year player. “It was great to have Nick and Anthony playing together on the varsity,” said Quinlan. “Anthony actually gave him some good passes this season. Anthony is going to be a really good defenseman. He knows the game. When his class is seniors, they’re going to be the best defensive corps in the conference.”

 Another up-and-coming player in the Fenwick program is Gerry Visconti of Revere.

Learning to skate at the Cronin Rink

Nick had the advantage of learning how to skate and being introduced to the rules and techniques of ice hockey by his father.

“My dad was my coach in Revere and later for my club team (Advantage Ice in the Boston Hockey League) and he taught me how to skate,” recalled Nick.

Fenwick coach Jim Quinlan remembers the father, Jim Sasso, from his sterling career as a Malden Catholic Lancer. Such schools as MC, Matignon, and Catholic Memorial were always among the elite Division 1 teams in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Jim went to UConn with one of my teammates (Kenny Hunt) at Saugus High,” said Quinlan. “Jim was a very, very good hockey player.”

Considering prep school

An honor roll student, Nick will conclude his athletic career at Fenwick as an attackman for the varsity lacrosse team this spring.

He intends to continue his hockey career in college. But first he is considering a post-graduate year at either Bridgton Academy (Maine) or the Winchendon School (Mass.).

“My top choice for college right now would be Nichols,” said Nick, whose favorite NHL player is Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders.

Nik said is grateful for the well-rounded experience he has enjoyed at Fenwick.

“Coach Quinlan helped me become a better player, more physical and aggressive on the ice,” said Nick. “I was honored to be a captain at Fenwick and wear one of the three ‘A’s on my jersey. It was fun playing hockey for Fenwick with my brother. And I want to thank my parents for all their support. I couldn’t have done this without them.”

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