When Triton hockey coach Drew Wile went looking for some leaders for his team in the preseason, all he had to do was look a couple of yards in front of his net to his senior defensemen, Derek Donley and Jared Salmon.
“It doesn’t go by position,” Wile said of the captain position. “It goes by leadership, and it goes by work ethic — on and off the ice. I’ve had Jared for three years and he’s been damn near perfect. Derek has come here, this is his second year, and he has assumed a leadership role. You’re not going to find two guys that practice the way they do. If our guys practiced the same as these guys, I wouldn’t be worried about four losses.”
Although he grew up in Salisbury, Donley joined the Vikes from Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H., the same year that Wile returned to the fray as coach. Winning has been a big part of their game, making the tournament both seasons. Currently standing at 9-4-0, the Vikes look assured to do the same this season as well.
“They welcomed me like a regular family, it was good to see,” Donley said of the Vikes. “These were the kids I grew up with, and it’s nice to work with the kids who worked at this basically their whole lives.”
For Salmon, it was simply the return of an old friend.
“I’ve known Derek for a while,” said Salmon. “We go back since elementary school and I’ve always known he was a good hockey player too. So I think we all looked at it as a positive when we knew who was coming in and what he had to offer for this team.”
What both captains offer their team is a blue-collar attitude. They get the job done, even if it means letting their teammates get all the attention up front.
“Kids always think about the flashy playing,” Salmon said. “But as you get older, you start to think about what needs to be done and not what matters for you, yourself. We play for the team, and all that comes first. So that is what we try to do.”
All this was music to Wile’s ears.
“That’s why it was a no-brainer picking both of them,” Wile said. “It’s just their maturity. They are beyond their 18 years of age. And they show that, not only on the ice, but in the classroom. They are well-liked by the school. They are leaders in school. They both have great futures ahead of them. They’re both going to be able to do what they want to do. And as a coach, it’s going to be hard for me when the season is over and next year begins, and I look and don’t see these two guys. That’s going to be difficult. I just hope the other guys see what they bring to the table.”
Perhaps the thing Donley is the most famous for is spending time in the penalty box as one of the most physical players in the Cape Ann League.
“My parents and my coaches in the past have always told me, ‘Don’t let anybody push you around,’” says Donley. “That’s just the way I was brought up. So ever since I was young, I’ve always stood my ground. Kids that I’ve played against, kids I play with just know that. As long as I’m standing up for myself, my teammates, and my goalie especially, that’s just how I do it, an everyday walk in the park.”
Salmon would like to study engineering next year, and Donley wants to keep playing hockey. Neither is looking too far past the next game at this time of the season.
“It was just two years ago that we went on a six-game losing streak going down the stretch,” said Salmon. “The second half of the season is always harder. We just have to keep looking at what game we have next and bring everything we have. Win out is probably what we have to do.”
“I agree,” said Donley. “We learned well from our captains last year that when we’re coming close to the end of the season, we’ve still got a lot of games left. You don’t give up just because you only have two or three games left. You have to keep pushing. Just keep pushing until we get to the goal.”