By Emily Iannaconi
Special to GoHolyCross.com
From lift, to practice, to meetings, to games, student-athletes are hardly ever without their teammates. Senior assistant hockey captain Mike Barrett does not mind though because his teammates are also his best friends. “You never get sick of them,” said Barrett.
Throughout his career, Barrett has played in 145 games and scored 43 goals, while tallying 55 assists for 98 points. When looking back over his four years though, Barrett can confidently say that he could not have had the same success without the help of his teammates.
BECOMING A LEADER
A native of Orland Park, Ill., Barrett is extremely grateful to have been able to play alongside the many talented hockey players who have come through Holy Cross over the years. The dedicated and hard working student-athletes have made Barrett’s job as assistant captain an easy one. “Leadership is a team thing,” explained Barrett. “If I’m not doing something the right way, I want someone to tell me and vice versa. It’s a mutual respect and it’s a system like that which keep guys honest. Everybody works hard and has a lot of respect for each other.”
Through his actions both on and off the ice, Barrett has developed into a player that his teammates can look up to. He led the team in scoring as a sophomore while he is second on the team this season with 26 points. Barrett has also posted at least 20 points or more in every season. As a Veteran Leader in the Holy Cross Leadership Academy and a two-time member of the Atlantic Hockey All-Academic Team, Barrett has become an all-around role model. “He’s been a player that we’ve relied upon to produce offensively,” said Holy Cross head coach David Berard. “He brings much more than that though. As a leader on the team, he is vocal and assertive. He has been really important to us this year as we transition from last year being a team with nine seniors to this year being a team with nine freshmen. Mike sets the example and tone everyday in practice.”
Though it can be challenging to lead friends, Barrett has learned how to utilize the strengths of each player. “Everybody has a different personality,” said Barrett. “So, if two guys make the same mistake, you can’t approach them the same way. Holding guys accountable can be challenging, but I get to be best friends with them, so I know how to talk to each guy differently.”
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Members of the Holy Cross hockey team return to campus in the middle of August, and oftentimes do not have the opportunity to go home until after the hockey season is over in the spring. For this reason, the team becomes its own family while on Mount St. James.
“You learn something new about somebody everyday,” said Barrett. “I’ve been here with guys for four years, and I’m still finding things out that I didn’t know before. People come from all different backgrounds.”
The coaches also contribute to this family atmosphere. “Our coaches are here with us every day and probably logging more hours at the rink than we are,” said Barrett. “They really care about each player, not just how the team is doing, but how guys are doing in school too. They are like parent figures. If we ever needed anything, we know that we could go to them, and they would help us and take care of us.”
The feeling is mutual for Berard who has come to trust and rely on Barrett as an assistant captain during his time here. “Mike is a guy that we turn to quite a bit,” said Berard. “He understands our culture, and he understands what we’re trying to do as a program. He not only follows that himself individually, but he also influences others to do the same.”
BEING A TEAMMATE AND FRIEND
Barrett’s teammates know that he will always have their back both on and off the ice. “I am fortunate to have spent three years with Mike and have witnessed his immense contributions to Holy Cross men’s hockey not only as a player, but as a friend as well,” said junior captain Brett Mulcahy. “Mike is one of my best friends and I know our relationship will extend well beyond our time at Holy Cross. He is fun to be around, his actions are selfless and his work ethic on and off the ice has allowed him to develop an impressive skill set, making him a complete player.”
Student assistant coach Brett McKinnon understands and appreciates the great contribution Barrett has had on the Holy Cross men’s hockey program. “Mike has been a top player since he came in as a freshman and has led by example throughout his four years,” said McKinnon. “Not only has Mike been great on the ice, but he has been an exceptional teammates off the ice by always being there to support his teammates.”
FAVORITE MEMORIES ON AND OFF THE ICE
Looking back on his four years as a Holy Cross hockey player, there are certain games and moments that will always stick out to Barrett. “Beating Boston College freshman year on the road is something that I will always remember,” said Barrett. “Playing at Fenway Park was also an unbelievable experience. Playing RIT in the playoffs was another memorable series. And this year beating Providence was a very cool moment.”
Beyond the ice though, Barrett will never forget the memories that he has formed with his teammates. “Simply hanging out with the guys and getting to know them has been an incredible experience,” said Barrett. “We have so many different personalities on the team, so it’s fun to hang out with everyone.”
As his time at Holy Cross comes to a close, Barrett recalled what two of his former teammates, Joe McNamara and Jack Kenney used to say about playing college hockey. “They would always say that college is so special because everyday you wake up next to your best friend, you have classes all day with your best friends, you have lunch with your best friends, you go to practice and see them again,” explained Barrett. “You’re always with your best friends and you never have that again in your life.”
HOCKEY BEYOND HOLY CROSS
Barrett knows that the relationships he has made from playing hockey at Holy Cross will only continue to help him after he leaves Mount St. James. “You can sit down and talk to anybody who knows hockey and have a conversation,” said Barrett. “No matter if you play 2,000 games in the NHL or play four years of college and are done, you always have the connection.”
And when Barrett is ready to stop playing hockey, he knows that there will be a community to support him, just like there always has been. “We have an alumni network now of all the guys who played hockey here,” explained Barrett. “Even though we’ve never played with some of them or even met them, it’s the connection of being a Holy Cross hockey player. It’s a special bond.”
Though Barrett does not yet know exactly where he will be next year, he is sure of one thing. The friendships he has made through playing hockey at Holy Cross will continue long after his time on the Hill.
Barrett and his teammates are about to start their quest for the program’s third Atlantic Hockey Championship. The Crusaders (14-13-7, 11-10-7 AHC) are the fifth seed and will play at fourth seed Robert Morris (19-11-4, 15-10-3) on March 10-12 in a best two-out-of-three Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal series. The winner will advance to the semifinal round in Rochester, N.Y. on March 17.