Anyone who’s followed Abington athletics the past couple years have gotten used to seeing three names next to each other in some order.
It could be golf: Grafton, St. Martin, Quinn
Or lacrosse: St. Martin, Quinn, Grafton.
And particularly hockey: Quinn, Grafton, St. Martin.
The three friends’ cohesiveness may have peaked this winter, creating a monster first line that dominated South Shore League hockey and has the Green Wave playing Monday in the MIAA Div. 4 tournament Round of 16.
How good have they been? Senior Jake Quinn (24 goals/24 assists) and junior Hunter Grafton (18 goals/22 assists) finished the regular season with an eye-popping +39 +/- rating, meaning the team scored 39 more goals when they were on the ice than they gave up. Junior Evan St. Martin (16 goals/16 assists) finished with +35 due to a brief injury.
To put this in perspective, only one Abington hockey player finished with a positive +/- rating last year: that was Quinn with a +1.
Abington Hockey Coach Bryan Woodford said he considers the trio of Grafton, Quinn, and St. Martin one of the top lines in Division 4 hockey.
“I don’t think there’s another line that has consistently been unchanged, untinkered with for two years,” he said.
Their numbers are only getting better. In the Green Wave’s first-round tourney game last week against West Bridgewater, Grafton and St. Martin both potted two goals and an assist, and Quinn racked up three more assists en route to a 6-1 victory.
Abington (#11) next faces Nantucket (#6) Monday evening at 5:15 p.m. For Green Wave fans interested in making the voyage, the team will be taking the 3:05 p.m. Hy-Line ferry over to the island.
“We’ve definitely seen that they can play with higher division teams, higher level teams like Whitman-Hanson and Silver Lake, they put up points against them,” said Green Wave senior captain Spencer Merrick.
Woodford first paired up Quinn, St, Martin, and Grafton last season when it become clear the then-underclassman would be the team’s offensive leaders. The trio have played with each other for years, coming up through the South Shore Eagles program. (Grafton jokes he wasn’t good enough at the time to play with Quinn and St. Martin on the Eagles’ top squad).
The three also play high school lacrosse together, and it was Quinn and St. Martin who helped recruit Grafton to the golf team last year.
“There’s an exceptional bond they have playing all three sports together, everything they do in the off-season together. I’m sure they go to Chipotle together,” Woodford said.
“We’re good friends on and off the ice,” confirmed St. Martin.
“Whenever we come back to the bench and we’re talking about the shift it’s always constructive criticism. We’re never arguing. It’s always good thoughts,” he said.
Quinn, one of the team’s alternate captains, said by now they know how each other plays.
“They know where I’m going to be and I know where they’re going to be,” he said.
Woodford said their success starts in practice where they go full tilt.
“Every drill they’re trying their hardest to score, and when they do, they’re celebrating,” he said. “It’s been extremely fun to watch because that’s the spark to our offense: the constant drive to the puck. You see it in practice and then we’re buzzing around in the game, with sticks down.”
Woodford said the trio also have zero ego, and are just as happy to tally an assist as a goal.
“Amongst them they don’t care who gets the most goals, or who scored, just that they scored,” he said.
Grafton, Quinn, and St. Martin recognize each other’s strengths.
“[Quinn] is just a natural goal scorer,” said St. Martin.
“Quinn always puts the puck in the net when I pass it to him,” said Grafton, who is known for his Griddy dance goal celebration. “Same with Evan. They pad my stats.”
“[St. Martin’s] shot is insane,” said Quinn. “It’s so fast, so hard, and so accurate.”
“[Grafton] is always in the right place at the right moment,” said Quinn. “He’s our team morale guy. I’ve never seen this kid upset at all.”
The +39 means not only are the trio scoring goals, but they’re also playing strong defense.
“They can keep the puck out of the zone as well as anybody,” said Merrick, who also receives his share of credit for the team’s success this year. “The puck never gets in our zone.”
Quinn says he’s determined not to take that very long ferry and bus ride home from Nantucket in tears, his scholastic hockey career over.
“I want to be crying with the trophy in hand,” he said. “I’ve been playing hockey my entire life and I don’t want to see it go away for a bit.”
No matter how the hockey season ends, the trio will see each other soon: the spring lacrosse season starts later this month.