“He’s a complete player, really, all three zones,” said Burns. “He’s a fantastic transition player. He doesn’t have the puck, then he has it. He’s very quick. He’s got great wheels and good hands. He’s got a great shot. Really, the kid is, in my mind, one of the top five forwards in the league.”
Burns also calls the three-sports athlete (hockey, baseball, golf) a student of the game. That work ethic transfers down to the younger players. Pingree tries to keep the pressure off them because he knows what it was like to have that on his shoulders at such a young age.
“I wouldn’t say I’m taking them under my wing,” Pingree said of the younger players. “I’m real with them. I treat them like my equals. If they ever need help, I’m there for them. But I try to lead more by example. Yelling at kids and stuff is not how I like to do it.”
“He’s out there knowing that it’s on him, and he understands that,” said Burns. “He’s been an extension, in my mind, of the coaching staff for a couple of years now, but especially this year.”
With less than three weeks to go in the regular season, each game will be the most important they’ve ever played for these Sachems.
“We’re at the must-wins now,” Burns said. “You’ve got to go in and I think you’ve got to play every contest like it’s your last. If we take care of business in these last six games, we should be able to qualify. But anything can happen. We’ve really got to remain focused.”
Pingree himself has never played in a tournament game, and right now there is nothing he wants more.
“We want it,” Pingree said of a post-season berth. “We have to go at it with everything we’ve got. I know I will be. There’s nothing I want more than making (the state tournament).”