Maine Hockey Journal

Son eager to follow in father’s footsteps

ORONO – Jim Vesey is Merrimack College’s all-time leading scorer in hockey with 244 points in 140 games. After his pro career was over, he used to take his sons, Jimmy and Nolan, to Merrimack College games.

But Vesey will be cheering against his alma mater this weekend when freshman left wing Nolan Vesey and his University of Maine teammates invade Merrimack College for a critical two-game Hockey East series.

The teams are both 5-9-2 in conference play, four points behind UConn and Northeastern in the battle for seventh and eighth place, the final two home playoff slots for the first round of the best-of-three Hockey East playoff series.

“Blood is way thicker than water,” said Jim Vesey. “All of the family and friends will be rooting for Maine. Nobody will be cheering for Merrimack.”

The elder Vesey was recruited by former Merrimack assistant Jay Leach, who left to join the late Shawn Walsh at the University of Maine before Vesey’s freshman season. Leach is back at Maine as the associate head coach under Red Gendron.

This is not a new experience for the Vesey family.

Two years ago, when left wing Jimmy Vesey was a freshman at Harvard, the Crimson and the Warriors skated to a 2-2 tie at Merrimack’s Lawler Arena.

“It’s nerve-wracking as a parent,” said Jim Vesey. “I’d rather be playing or coaching.”

Jim Vesey went on to play 15 games in the NHL interspersed with a prolific minor league career in which he had two 47-goal seasons for Peoria in the International Hockey League and a 38-goal campaign for Providence in the American Hockey League.

“It’s going to be a fun weekend,” said Nolan Vesey, who is Maine’s fifth-leading scorer with six goals and nine assists for 15 points in 27 games. “A lot of my family will be going.”

He said he is aware of his father’s outstanding career at Merrimack.

“Growing up, I used to hear stories all the time. People used to tell me that he was a great player. You couldn’t get a seat when he played there,” said Nolan Vesey. “It’s good to have a father like that.

“A lot of his college buddies will be going to the game, guys he has stayed in touch with. Two years ago, when Harvard played Merrimack, it was a pretty cool experience. There were a lot of professors there that my dad had,” he said said.

“All that stuff is cool but you have to put things into perspective. We really need two wins. That’s all that matters,” added Vesey, who knows the fans could heckle him by informing him that his father was a better player.

“I don’t take those things too personally. They’ll be trying to get into my head, but you’ve got to block those things out,” said Vesey, who had Lawler Rink as his home rink when he was playing youth hockey.

“It’s a small rink. The games will be a grind,” he said.

“Hopefully, little Vesey will have a huge weekend. He can prove that his dad isn’t the only Vesey who can score in that rink,” Maine junior defenseman Ben Hutton said.

Jimmy Vesey didn’t register a point in the Harvard-Merrimack tie.

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