ITEM FILE PHOTO
Austin Prep boys’ hockey coach Lou Finocchiaro, right, and his son Louis, who is a member of the Cougars’ hockey team.
By DILLON DURST
Ask Lou Finocchiaro about his illustrious hockey career, both as a former player and coach, and he’ll be quick to credit those who have surrounded him over the years.
Finocchiaro, 50, will be inducted into the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame in May, after investing nearly a quarter of a century in teaching young men the sport he loves. Finocchiaro’s coaching career began at his alma mater, Saugus High, and has included stops at Merrimack College and currently Austin Prep, where he has been head coach since 2005.
“I coached a lot of great players, whether it be at Saugus, Merrimack College or Austin Prep, to create this opportunity for me to be inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame,” said Finocchiaro. “I was surrounded by great players to get inducted into the Saugus High Hall of Fame, and I was surrounded by great players to get inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame.”
Wins and losses aside, Finocchiaro has placed great emphasis over the years on not only getting the most out of his players as their mentor, but remaining in their lives as a friend afterward.
“I still have some long-term relationships with players who have played for me, which I’m fortunate for,” he said. “That tells me that I reached them as a person and as a player.”
Finocchiaro has been invited to several of his former players’ weddings, and maintains regular contact with many of them.
Nolan Vesey, who played for Finocchiaro at Austin Prep and is now is a sophomore forward for the University of Maine, considers himself “very fortunate” to have played for the legendary coach.
“Playing under (Finocchiaro) at Austin Prep has done a lot for me, both as a player and a person,” said Vesey. “It is something that has definitely helped me get to where I am today. He always pushed for me to be the best I could be, and always kept faith in me as a player, which I am truly grateful for.
“I’m lucky enough to still be able to reach out and talk to him nowadays. He is a great coach, but an ever better guy.”
Along with Vesey, Finocchiaro has tutored several players who have gone on to enjoy successful careers at both the collegiate and professional levels.
Ross Gaudet and Jason Lawrence, both of whom played for Finocchiaro at Austin Prep, went on to win a national championship at Boston University. Greg Classen and Matt Foy, two of Finocchiaro’s Merrimack College products, went on to play in the NHL.
“I’ve been blessed to have some great kids come through the programs, wherever I’ve been,” Finocchiaro said.
The veteran coach is also a firm believer that you’re only as good as the people who surround you, whether that be in hockey or life in general.
“I had great assistant coaches over the years,” he said. “And I’ve had great players over the years. Again, they take a role and it leads to accomplishments. It was all the players (who) played for me over the years that made it possible for me to have this prestigious award and to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
At the end of the day, Finocchiaro’s biggest supporting cast is at home.
“I have a phenomenal wife, who’s my better half…who really supports me and encourages me to coach,” he said. “And two beautiful children, who are currently playing hockey now, and love hockey.
“I’ve lost a lot of time watching them play hockey over the years because I coach. But they know I love it, and they support me to continue coaching.”
Dillon Durst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @DillonDurst