Photo by Rena Laverty
Jack Devine can thank his two older sisters for helping push him into hockey and helping him create that love of the sport.
“I started playing hockey around 3,” Devine said. “My older sister, Taylor, played and then, Katie, who is two years older than me, started playing. I just played on the same team as Katie did for a few years.”
He credits his sisters in helping to push him to get better.
“It was all about sibling rivalry,” said Devine, a Glencoe, Illinois, native. “… We would still skate together and train together.
“My whole family played so it was hockey, hockey, hockey. It’s not necessarily bad but we would talk about hockey but still do other things. We did go to the rink together and go to camps together. It was pretty cool.”
It was a family affair when it came to hockey as even his parents — Valerie and Ted — played the game to varying degrees.
“My dad played through high school and he didn’t play in college but rowed instead,” Devine said. “My mom played a charity hockey game and she scored a goal and it was funny. The one game she played, she ended up in the newspaper.”
One of the big changes that Devine went through this season was moving away from home and at the same time, his sister Katie left for Saint Mary’s University, where she now plays. They still find a way to stay connected.
“We talk about once a week, who we are playing for the week, what is happening and what we are looking forward to,” said Devine. “She has been able to go to a few of my games. I know it’s different since this is the first year that we have been apart. I kind of miss her. It’s weird not to be able to knock on her door and say hi.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“She was really proud of me. I’m pretty sure she gave me a big hug and a big smile. She has been very supportive and when I found out she was going to Saint Mary’s, I was so proud of her.”
With that being said, the transition to USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program has been a challenge at times for Devine. Luckily for him, he has his mom to turn to night in and night out.
“It really helped with my mom being here,” he said. “She has been super supportive and that really helps in the transition. We can sit down at the dinner table and eat together.
“Hockey-wise, the transition — the speed of the game and the bigger guys you had to get used to. Every day, you are going against the top guys in practice. I really enjoy the schedule, how we are skating and lifting every day.”
Photo by Rena Laverty
The 5-foot-10, 158-pound forward has already seen a huge improvement in his game since arriving in Plymouth in late August. There is one particular spot in his game that he feels has improved the most.
“Situational awareness,” he cited. “When you are playing against the top guys, you have to bring your best game too. You can feed off them. You need to trust your teammates, knowing you are going out there and it will make you a better player.
“The opportunity at the NTDP is first class. You are not going to get this anywhere. If you need help with film, I can go ask Leo [Mike Leone, Under-17 assistant coach]. If you have free, time you can go shoot pucks. The amount of people who are willing to help you, so you can get better. It’s all about the opportunities.”
He also has taken to heart some words of wisdom from head coach John Wroblewski.
“You need to outwork your opponent,” said Devine. “That is a big thing for me. I don’t want to get outworked by someone. If you want to be the best, you have to outwork them and do the little things where inch by inch, it will start to add up.”
Devine and his U17 teammates head to Ufa, Russia, for their final international tournament of the season, the Five Nations, which runs from Feb. 5-9. The squad will face the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland and Russia in the round-robin format. It is the second trip to Russia this season for the U17s and Devine understands what needs to be done for success.
“We have to continue the hard work,” he said. “We need to keep in mind in our first tournament, we felt we lost a championship [at the Under-17 world championships] when we lost to Russia in the gold-medal game. We need to stay hungry and we want to win a championship. That is what we are working for. We have to keep up the little things.”
In December, the U17s beat Russia, 6-0, in Kazan, to earn their first tournament title. It was one of the most memorable moments of the season for Devine to date.
“We jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first,” he said. “After we lost to them the first time in Canada, it was great to play well. They had a decent crowd at the game and we handled the game. Being in Russia with the crowd, it was good to get that redemption.”
At the end of the day, there is one thing that stands out to Devine and that is wearing the colors of his country.
“You are representing more than yourself — you are representing your country,” he said. “You are representing other people — the soldiers and everyone else who has fought for you beforehand. We have the freedom to go out and play against another country.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.