WORCESTER, MA – They often say, “what a difference a year can make,” as at this time last year Mike Addesa had decided to take a step back from hockey. At the end of the 2018-19 season, Addesa had finished a three-year job, serving as the Hockey Director for the Seacoast Spartans. The program was in great shape thanks in large part to the work of Addesa, and it was finally time to take a step back, after a long career in the sport that he loved.
“As the 2017-18 season has concluded, I have decided to leave the Seacoast Spartans organization, as I want to make a greater commitment to my 13 grandchildren,” Addesa said in a previous feature with the USA Junior Hockey Magazine.
It’s safe to say that Addesa wasn’t expecting to help purchase a pair of teams under the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) umbrella, a year later.
This fall, the EHL will feature 19 total teams, including the Railers Junior Hockey Club (Railers JHC) and the Seacoast Spartans. The Railers will also have a team in the Eastern Hockey League Premier (EHLP).
“It’s definitely unique how it all played out,” said Addesa. “I knew I would never fully step away from hockey, but I also didn’t predict this. As things came together for my son and the program they were trying to add in Worcester, they asked me to help select the coaches and get the team started. Of course, my answer was yes.”
Mike Addesa has done it all in hockey, from high school to college, and time spent as a scout at the highest level possible, the National Hockey League (NHL).
After graduating in 1966 from the College of the Holy Cross, where he played football, hockey and baseball, he got his first coaching job the very next academic year with Stoneham High School’s football and hockey teams. He was then the head coach with St. Mary’s and Randolph High Schools, going 72-7-1 in five years at Randolph.
“I will always remember those years, no matter how long ago they were,” added Addesa. “1972 in particular was a very special season for me, and it was my first year at Randolph. We lost the first 3 games of the year, and then never again during the regular season, as we qualified for the Massachusetts High School State Tournament. We weren’t supposed to make it, but we did.”
Continuing along the way, Addesa then made the jump up to college, starting back at his alma mater. Despite not having a single scholarship athlete on his team, Addesa continued to find success, with a deep run in the Division II National Tournament, and overall record that boasted 50 wins and 29 losses.
From there, Division I came next, and arguably the best years of Addesa’s coaching career. After rebuilding Holy Cross, he did the same at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute(RPI), all the way to a Division I National Championship in 1985.
“What’s funny to me is that I actually think our team in ’83-’84 was better than the championship team the following year. The issue was our inexperience and despite being a top seed, we got knocked out by North Dakota. While the players took it hard, I took it even harder, and learned so much through that defeat. It made me work that much more the next season, and I am beyond proud of what that group accomplished.”
The career path continued with a time spent as an NHL scout for the Detroit Red Wings, Calgary Flames, and Vancouver Canucks.
Mixed in that time frame was a 15-year stretch with the Boston Jr. Bulldogs, a junior hockey program founded and led by Addesa. The Bulldogs played out of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League (AJHL), which later became known as the EHL in 2013.
Essentially, it has all come full circle for Addesa, as he now has been called upon to help lead the Railers JHC in their first season in the EHL.
“I learn something new every time I speak with Coach Addesa,” said James Mello, the head coach of the Railers’ EHL team. “It’s a unique opportunity to be around a guy with his experience and knowledge on a daily basis. I find myself talking to him more than my own family as we build this program in the inaugural season. Coach A has taught me that we take a family first approach to this team, and it really starts with the coaching staff. In a short amount of time we have become close and enjoy being in each other’s presence. Our staff’s approach has directly translated to a unified front with the work we are doing both on and off the ice. It feels like we are preparing for another season vs our inaugural year.”
The ‘Band of Brothers’ is what they are calling themselves, as Mello leads the EHL team, Sean Bertoni mans the bench for the EHLP team, and Brian Addesa serves as an Assistant Coach for both, as well as the program’s Academic Advisor.
“The past few months have been a blast,” said Brian Addesa. “Of course, I’ve been soaking in my Dad’s [Mike] knowledge for years, but it’s also been fun to watch James [Mello] and Sean [Bertoni] take in everything that he has to say. We have a big challenge ahead of us this year, but we’re ready to take it on together. Despite however many games we win or lose, our mission to place kids into college. I am focused on helping to find the perfect fit for every individual, and I am going to make sure that while they are here, our players aren’t just hockey players. They will have plenty of coursework that they need to complete, and it’s all in order to keep their minds sharp and ready for college.”
With Mike at the top and a strong core taking in all of his guidance, the Railers JHC is eager for the start of the 2018-19 season. While it seemed like just a year ago that Addesa was calling it a career, he’s come back around to add one final success story to his resume.
“I’m a very lucky guy,” he added. “And I am very fortunate for the sport of ice hockey.”
Mike Addesa spent 15 years as the Head Coach and General Manager of the Boston Bulldogs.
Mike Addesa with his entire family, including his wife, children, their spouses, and all of his grandchildren.