Just a few weeks ago, Trevor Piecewicz was a having a marvelous month.
WMPR’s star defender was honored as the Division II Defenseman of the Year, helped the program win its first ever CCC championship, and had officially committed to play collegiate hockey at Central Connecticut State University.
Following a 5-0 victory over Eastern CT in the first round of the Division II state tournament on March 9, it seemed like nothing could stop Piecewicz and the Eagles from achieving their state championship aspirations.
Then COVID-19 hit American soil and the nation grinded to a halt.
“I was at school in one of my classes, maybe five minutes before lunch, and I looked down at my phone and saw it on Twitter,” Piecewicz said about finding out that the CIAC had cancelled the remainder of the winter sport’s tournament on March 10 because of the soon-to-be pandemic, “We had a couple of the school’s other top athletes in my class, and I remember looking up at them and we told our teacher. We just had no words.”
What started as a March that he’d remember for all the right reasons had turned into a month he’d never forget for a completely different reason.
After defeating Branford (the top-seed in the Division II bracket) in the regular season and also beating rival Hall-Southington in the conference championship game, the Eagles were in prime position for a state title.
“We were coming off a great regular season. We beat Branford in overtime and we beat Lyman Hall, so we had beaten the two defending champs going into the playoffs. Also, we got knocked out of the playoffs my junior year by Hall-Southington and they beat us in the semifinals my freshman year, so to get that chance to play them again in the championship was crazy.”
The conference championship had set the stage for the state tourney, where they would blank Eastern CT in the opening round.
“We were super confident going into that first game against Eastern. They had beaten us the last time we played them, so we were going in with a chip on our shoulder. We knew what we had to do to beat them.”
“We were on such a high after that, I think at that point we had just had our 7th straight win, so we were playing great hockey and literally the next day we got the news that the tournament was cancelled.”
News of the cancellation sent shockwaves through the state.
“I sat down at lunch that day with Jack Healy and I don’t think we said a single word to each other. We both left school right after lunch and went home. The next day, me and a couple of other guys went to the CIAC protests because obviously at that time we didn’t think this was as big of a deal as it is now. It was crazy to see everybody come together like that and to see the community respond in such a big way was awesome.”
Although it wasn’t the ending that he envisioned, his four years with the program are impeccable.
As a freshman he played a key role, helping the Eagles win 17 regular season games before advancing to the state semifinals.
During his first season, he teamed with his brother Tyler, who is now a junior at the University of Connecticut.
“Playing with my brother was awesome. We grew up playing hockey and we just fell in love with it,” recalled Piecewicz, who said the brothers first started playing as young kids with their neighbors.
After losing Tyler and other key seniors, Piecewicz moved to the offensive end for the next two seasons.
He led the team in points (40) as a sophomore, dishing out 27 assists and scoring 13 goals, for an Eagles team that advanced to the quarterfinals.
As a junior he again led the team in assists, tallying 22 total points, as the team went back to the semifinals, which included an upset of top-seed Watertown-Pomperaug in the quarterfinals.
After a pair of semifinal defeats and a quarterfinals exit, Piecewicz knew the 2019/2020 Eagles had the experience and the tools to get over the hump this season, “We had so much talent up front and also a strong defense, it was a perfect combination. It was just our attitude overall, we went into games expecting to win them. We thought it was our year.”
Piecewicz, who scored his 100th career point this season, moved back to defense to fill a need and the team hit the ground running, winning nine games in a row to start the season.
Fellow all-staters Trevor Schad (goalie) and Aaron Cholewa (forward), along with Healy, provided the Eagles a well-rounded team that again finished the regular season 17-3.
It all came together in the 5-2 win over Hall-Southington to win the conference championship on March 7. Healy scored a pair of goals and Piecewicz dished out an assist, and did his normal damage on the defense end.
The rest of Piecewicz’ high school hockey story will remain unwritten.
But for the Wethersfield native, his journey is just beginning.
His next stop is New Britain, where he’ll join a competitive CCSU team led by energetic coach Chris Torna. Piecewicz and Torna made it official with a joint signing streamed online March 8.
“He emailed me one day and then came to see me play. It was just the way that he treated everything,” Piecewicz said of Torna, “People will tell you that it’s just club hockey but he treated it like it was a Division I recruitment. For him to treat it like that and to treat me the way that he did, it made my decision easy.”
Torna was the key factor in his decision to choose CCSU, and Piecewicz knows the importance of good coaching.
Dennis Tulimieri Sr. was his coach all four years at Wethersfield and the two shared a mutual respect that goes beyond the world of hockey.
“We’ve had a great relationship over the four years, and that relationship allowed me to reach my full potential because he gave me the freedom to be myself on the ice,” said Piecewicz.
Tulimieri stated that he’s been honored to have coached Piecewicz, “For certain Trevor is an elite level hockey player but that is just the surface that most people see. What makes Trevor special in my mind is his courage, integrity, quiet confidence and inclusive nature. Those special attributes also make him a great leader and the ultimate teammate.
“Trevor has managed to manifest courage by stepping up and accepting every challenge presented to him in life, on and off the ice. It takes courage to just play ice hockey and only the most courageous can lead and inspire others as Trevor does. He is always loyal to his family, teammates and friends while being truthful and honest even if his position may be unpopular with his contemporaries. Trevor is confident in his abilities but never overbearing in his actions or words. Because of his inclusive nature Trevor is respected by his teammates, opposition and coaches he has played for and against.”
At CCSU, he’ll be majoring in Physical Education as he joins his Blue Devil teammates on the ice.
“It awesome getting to play at the next level. Obviously the skill is going to be better and the competition is going to be tougher. Getting the opportunity to push myself to play against better players at something that I love to do. Also I’m going to a team where I don’t know a lot of kids, so it’s giving me the opportunity to be myself and grow as a player and a person. I’m just really excited about it.”
There’s no telling what the next four years will bring but the previous four years saw a lot of winning, and that’s what Piecewicz is most proud of.
“We came in knowing how good we were and we felt like we we're going to win every game. We set the record for most wins in school history and we won the first ever conference tournament in school history. I just want us to be remembered as winners.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin