A Bit of Local Flavor for College Hockey

Cup'pa JoeWith Washington increasingly becoming the focal point for the 2008-09 college hockey season, it’s worth mentioning the significant accomplishments of two local players from exceptional hockey pedigree. Severna Park. Md., brothers Jared and Matt Tinordi, sons of former Caps’ defenseman Mark, both have earned full rides to two prestigious D-I schools. Matt will join the RPI Engineers next fall, while Jared will skate with the currently no. 1 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish beginning in 2010. Both are products of the Washington Jr. Nationals of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League.

Jared was the AJHL Rookie of the Year in 2007-08, and he moved to Ann Arbor to join the U.S. NDTP Under-17 team this past season. He served as captain for the U-17s, scoring 5 goals and 15 assists in 44 games. He was also a fourth-round selection of the London Knights in the 2008 OHL draft. (Wonder how Knights’ head coach Dale Hunter heard about young Jared?) Talk about a meteoric rise — Tinordi rocketed up from Bantam AAA to the AJHL ROY award to Ann Arbor and the national team all just since 2007.

Brother Matt skated for the Old Grizzlys of the Alberta Junior Hockey League this past season, one of the most respected Junior A leagues in all of Canada. Matt broke with family tradition: he is a forward.  

Speaking of all-time great Washington Capitals defenders, and college hockey, the Secretary of Defense, Rod Langway, a standout defender for the New Hampshire Wildcats for two seasons, could well have been an all-time great in college football. Or baseball. He was that great an athlete.

It’s amazing to think about, but the Hockey Hall of Famer didn’t begin playing organized hockey until he was 13 years old! By his senior year at Randolph High in Randolph, Mass., in 1975, Langway was a coveted national recruit for football. How coveted, how national? When I asked him about his football career out at Kettler Capitals Iceplex recently, he told me that he had football scholarships from every major program in the country. Every one?

“Hundreds,” replied.

He was also an accomplished catcher in baseball. The Legends of Hockey web site certainly suggests so:  

“In his weakest sport, baseball, [Langway] would gun down every single runner that attempted to steal a base every year he was catching [at Randolph].”

Langway noted that he was limited to a total of five trips for visits to campuses, and as far as undergraduate campus sightseeing goes, he chose rather well: USC and UCLA. Not much hockey on those campuses, but even by his senior year of high school, Langway’s loves really were with football and baseball. But like many great New England football players, Langway’s destiny was closer to home.

Langway.jpg“There are great football players in Massachusetts, but they like to stay home and play,” he told me.

He considered Holy Cross, which was Division II at the time in both football and hockey, as well as Boston College, Boston University, and New Hampshire. He ended up with the Wildcats, as a quarterback. His recruiter at New Hampshire, a man by the name of Dave O’Connor, happened to be an assistant with both the hockey and football teams at the school. O’Connor clearly recognized Langway’s multi-sport prowess, and strenuously urged Langway to build his physique in a manner benefitting his performance in both sports.

Langway’s athleticism allowed him to switch from quarterback to linebacker between his freshman and sophomore seasons with the Wildcats. Few in hockey to this day I think recall that Langway attended new Hampshire on a football and not a hockey scholarship. And he could have attended college on a baseball scholarship as well — he had scores of schollie offers for that sport as well.

It’s also interesting that to note that among the schools heaviest in pursuit of Langway the pigskinner was then football powerhouse Notre Dame. Being recruited for football by the Irish then meant a lot more than it does now, and the moreso for a football player from New England. Had Langway chosen to go to South Bend he would have been teammates with both Joe Montana and Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. He also could have been a member of the 1977 national championship team.

He didn’t fair too badly at New Hampshire, however: he enjoyed the remarkable feat of competing in two national championship tournaments (football and hockey) in the same year, his sophomore season — also his last before embarking on his pro hockey career.

“Speaking on behalf of Washington hockey fans,” I told him during our chat, “thank you for ultimately choosing the sport you did.”     

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