Tewksbury’s Pierce ‘the Smartest Kid on the Ice’
TEWKSBURY -- Campbell Pierce didn’t have to reinvent himself as a hockey player after switching positions during the season last winter.
But the Tewksbury High standout did need some time to adapt to the role reversal after changing on the fly from a high-scoring winger to a shutdown defenseman.
In order to fill a need on the blue line, Pierce, who had been skating a regular shift at forward for the first season and a half of his varsity career, became a key component on the Redmen defense down the stretch of his sophomore campaign. Pierce’s skating ability, passing skills, competitive desire to win loose pucks and stellar hockey IQ helped him quickly emerge as a defensive force.
Pierce was named to the MVC/DCL Division 2 all-conference team while helping the Redmen earn a state tournament berth. He scored seven goals and had 13 assists last season. For his two-year varsity career, Pierce has notched 37 points (16 goals).
This multi-talented junior is ready to resume his role as one of the top puck-moving defensemen in the region when Tewksbury hosts Haverhill in its season-opener Wednesday at 7:20 p.m. at the Breakaway Ice Center.
“For the most part I had always played forward,” said Pierce. “I did play defense on a select team in the eighth grade. But I was a forward here. We got some injuries last year and I ended up being moved to defense. It’s never easy switching from offense to defense. It took me a few games to feel comfortable.
“I like to be involved. I’m not really a stay-at-home defenseman. There are times when I’ll jump up into plays. But I know I have to think defense first. What I like about defense is everything is in front of me and I can see the whole ice so I know where the puck is. When there is a forward coming at you, you have to be fast when it comes to getting the puck out of the zone and making a play.”
Pierce, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 158 pounds, is positionally sound, strong in the corners/front of the net and is quick when it comes to transitioning the puck out of the Redmen zone. His fundamental flamboyance creates havoc for opposing forwards.
“He’s the smartest kid on the ice,” said Tewksbury coach Derek Doherty. “When you have the smartest player probably in the league, you want to be able to put him back on defense. He slows everybody down. He slows the game down. And he’s able to get the puck out of the zone.”
Pierce and his defensive partner, senior captain Mike Arsenault, give the Redmen a dominant pairing on the blue line.
“Obviously, he has a pretty good partner in Mike Arsenault,” said Doherty. “They played together last year on defense and they’re back together this season. They complement each other well.”
Pierce comes from a hockey family and gravitated to the sport at an early age. Throughout his freshman year and at the start of last season, Pierce skated on a line with his brother, Colby, a Redmen senior captain last season.
His oldest brother, Colin, played hockey at Central Catholic, and Pierce’s father, Kevin, is a former Winchester High hockey player. Pierce also receives lots of support from his mother, Sharon, and sisters, Mackenzie and Madison.
“In my family we’re always thinking about hockey or playing hockey,” said Pierce. “We build a rink in the backyard every year. Playing out there is a lot of fun. We don’t wear pads or anything. My brothers have toughened me up by putting plenty of elbows in my face. Playing against them definitely made me a better player.”
Pierce is an honor roll student. He also plays golf and tennis for Tewksbury High. While Pierce is extremely athletic, his cerebral approach to the game is what enables him to be a difference-maker on the ice.
“He comes from a great family that has a strong hockey background,” said Doherty. “He really understands the game. He knows where he’s going with the puck before it’s on his stick.”
Pierce hopes to have Tewksbury skating up at the top of the league standings this season.
“It’s been a great experience playing here,” said Pierce. “I think we’re going to have a very good year. There are a lot of hard working kids on the team. We have some guys with experience and all our young guys can play. I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi