Billerica’s Blue-collar Bros
BILLERICA -- Anthony and Joe LaMarca have been linemates since birth. So it’s only natural that these twin brothers on Billerica High’s hockey team would share a genetic bond on the ice.
They’ve been connected their entire lives and teammates their entire hockey careers. Yet, Anthony, who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 180 pounds, and Joe, who stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 165 pounds, are pretty distinguishable in their style of play and looks.
Born seven minutes apart, with Anthony being the oldest, the LaMarca twins are as close as can be. These talented seniors still share the same bedroom, daily rides to school and practice, the joy and pain of each other’s successes and failures, and a love for the game.
Since the start of this season, Anthony and Joe, an Indian co-captain, have shared in what’s been a team-wide effort to help a Billerica club on the rise continue its strong all-around play.
After experiencing plenty of growing pains in recent winters, including a 1-17-3 campaign two years ago, Billerica is 6-2-2 overall and 3-2-1 in MVC/DCL Division 1. With the LaMarcas helping to lead the way, the Indians are skating toward a coveted state tourney berth while remaining in the thick of the league title chase.
“The LaMarca twins are such a big piece of this because when things weren’t going well for us they kept showing up with a good attitude every single day,” said Billerica coach Jim Egan. “They never gave up. They’re not the type of kids who give up, none of our kids are, and that’s why we’re playing so much better as a team.
“They are what you expect from a Billerica hockey player. They are passionate about the game. They are blue collar. They’re hard workers.”
Anthony and Joe not only possess the DNA needed to play a leading role in a Billerica program with a long tradition of success, they have excellent hockey bloodlines. Their father, Paul, is a former standout player at Burlington High, while their mother, Theresa, has provided them with lots of support and guidance.
“It means a lot to us that the team is playing well because Billerica is a big hockey community,” said Joe. “I’m just glad to get this program headed in the right direction. We hope to keep it going. I’d love to see the program skyrocket from here and get back to where it used to be.”
After not being paired as linemates for much of their four-year varsity careers, Anthony, a gritty right winger, and Joe, a playmaking center, have been skating on the same line recently. In a back-to-the-future 2-1 win over long-time rival Chelmsford on Saturday, Anthony scored the winning goal in the third period.
Joe got the play started and picked up the second assist on the decisive tally in a victory that ranks as the biggest of the season to date for an Indians’ club still learning just how formidable it can become.
“It’s a cool experience playing with Joe,” said Anthony. “It’s different playing on the same line. He was a defenseman up until high school and we really didn’t play much on the same line until this year.
“It’s going good. It’s pretty special getting to play on his line. We’ve seen each other play for 15 years. So we know what each other does on the ice. I like to battle for the puck and get greasy goals. Joe is more finesse.”
Joe has been skating a regular shift for the Indians since he was a freshman. He has notched nine points, with four goals, this season and is a +9. Joe tallied 16 points (seven goals) as a junior and was an MVC/DCL Division 1 all-star.
“He was a smooth-skating defenseman but undersized (as a freshman),” said Egan. “We decided to carry him on varsity at center and he just stuck. Joe is great in the middle. He creates a lot of offense. He seems to make plays when we need them.”
Joe potted the goal that changed the outlook of the Indians last season. His last-second tally lifted Billerica, 0-5-2 at the time, to a dramatic win over Chelmsford. The Indians closed out the 2017-18 season on an 8-4-2 run that left Billerica a point shy of a postseason berth.
“I always felt our program was strong, no matter our record,” said Joe. “The game is important to everyone on the team. So I thought we’d be able to turn it around.”
Anthony is at his best crashing the net and working his magic in the corners. He has scored four goals and dished out four assists this season.
“Anthony has a great hockey IQ and he’s tough,” said Egan. “He’s a hard-nosed kid. He’s a grinder. He just keeps working. He knows what areas of the ice he needs to be in and he’s willing to go there.”
No matter what thrills remain this season, Anthony and Joe plan on making the most of their time playing hockey together.
“I enjoy playing hockey with him,” said Joe. “It’s something I’m sure I’ll look back at with fond memories when I get older. Getting to play hockey with my twin brother is pretty special.”
The LaMarcas are classmates, as well. Although Anthony and Joe, each of whom is an honor roll student, have applied to a couple of the same colleges, they will likely become solo acts in the fall.
“It will be weird going to different colleges,” said Anthony. “Just having a roommate that wasn’t him would be so different. No matter what we’ll still talk every day. We’ll always be there for each other.”
Trusted linemates for life.
Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi