The Lower Merion defenseman and assistant captain has been a key player for the Aces (9-3-1, 7-3-1 Central League as of Feb. 5) this winter, contributing offense (seven goals, 12 assists) as well as tough defense and leadership. Lower Merion head coach Dan Pike said, “Shane is a great team leader and constantly pushes his teammates to strive for more; he’s a character guy and is a positive role model for younger guys on the squad. His attitude and determination make him one of our top players.” Leonard also is the captain of his travel hockey team, Haverford Hawks Midget 16AA. When not playing, he works the clock at the Skatium.
Q: You are considered a defenseman who possesses offensive skills as well. Have you always played defense? What originally attracted you to the defenseman position?
A: Yes I have played defense since I began playing hockey. When I first started playing my coach placed me there and it felt like a natural fit.
Q: What do you think are the most important attributes of a good defenseman?
A: Hockey sense, good vision, good angling are all attributes I find necessary to be successful in the defensive position. I view it a lot like playing quarterback in the sense of making a good outlet pass or to take the puck and rush it yourself.
Q: Can you give an example of where you had to exert leadership in your role as assistant captain?
A: Recently we had a big game against Conestoga who is currently the best team in our division. I took it upon myself to keep the rest of the players focused and ready to battle to make sure we captured the win. After a hard-fought game we were able to win 3-2.
Q: What has been your most memorable experience (to date) as a Lower Merion ice hockey player – can you share it with us?
A: In our last game of the regular season last year we had to play against undefeated Haverford, who seemed unstoppable all year. We knew what we had to do to get under their skin and shut down their top scorers. It was quite an exciting game and we were able to win 3-1.
Q: You also play CYO basketball. What originally attracted you to play ice hockey?
A: My older brother Brendan played as well as my dad. Striving to be like them, I hopped on the ice and I’ve been in love with the sport ever since.
Q: What has been your most memorable experience with the Haverford Hawks – can you share it with us?
A: It was my second year playing Bantam AA and we had a pretty talented team. However, we struggled with injuries and other inconveniences that lead us going into the winter break with a 3-11-1 record. The entire league wrote us off and completely cut us out the playoff picture. Despite our tough record we came out after the two-week break and won 12 games in a row, leaving us with a 15-11-1 record and a clinched playoff spot. We took a tough loss in the semi-finals that ended our season but the way we went against all the odds and proved everyone wrong was truly amazing.
Q: For the past three years, you’ve been a summer camp counselor for Lower Merion Township. What do you find to be the most rewarding part of being a camp counselor?
A: The smile on the kid’s faces as they run around. I attended the camp when I was younger and I had a blast. It’s nice to come back and help the kids have the same experiences as well.
Q: What has been your most memorable experience working the clock at Skatium – can you share it with us?
A: I did the “Pink the Rink” game between St. Joes Prep and Cardinal O’Hara. The whole rink was packed and it was a back-and-forth game that was really enjoyable to watch, especially being that close to the ice.
Q: Are there any hockey players who you really admire, and why?
A: I really admired Ray Bourque. He is the reason I wear No. 77 for my Hawks team. I used to watch highlights of him on Youtube and just the way he saw the ice and rushed the puck up from the defensive position was insane. I try my best to model my game after him.
Q: You wear No. 27 Lower Merion. Is there a reason you chose this number – does it hold any special significance to you?
A: It was my brother’s jersey and I saw no reason to buy another one.
Q: Who have been your biggest ice hockey mentors, and what was the important thing each of them taught you?
A: All of my coaches over the years in the Hawks organization. I’ve been playing with the club ever since I was 6, and the way my game has progressed and developed is all thanks to the great coaching
Fun facts – Shane Leonard
Favorite TV show: Big Brother.
Favorite movie: Step Brothers.
Favorite athlete: Ray Bourque.
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: “Colors” by Tee Grizzley.
Favorite team: Flyers.
Favorite place to visit: Montreal.
Favorite pre-game meal: Chicken nuggets with a chocolate protein shake.
Person I most admire, and why: “My dad. He is a big reason for where I am now in my hockey career. He has been my coach over the years on and off the ice, always helping me improve and to strive to be better.”
Family members: parents Greg and Katie, older sister Grace (21), older brother Brendan (18).
(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)
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