He has 10 goals and five assists in eight games.
When considering statistics, Stephen Kennedy doesn’t seem like an athlete who hasn’t played competitive hockey in more than three years, but that’s the case for the junior forward from Ambler, Pa.
“I love hockey,” Kennedy said. “It’s been my first love since I could walk. I literally started playing when I was five.”
However, ice hockey is an expensive sport to participate in. According to an article published last year in The Temple News, each player had to pay a total of $2,600 out of pocket to play Temple ice hockey, and that’s just for the school team. Players who compete at the junior level have to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. The cost of the sport was too much for Kennedy – who played juniors – and his family. He was forced to stop playing hockey after his junior year in high school.
“My parents were unable to pay for it,” Kennedy said. “It’s kind of expensive to play juniors and it wasn’t a burden I was willing to face them with. So, my hockey career kind of just came to a halt.”
After high school, Kennedy attended Montgomery County Community College. Kennedy later decided to transfer to Temple since the Ambler campus is within walking distance of where he lives.
Once enrolled at Temple, Kennedy knew he would have the chance to return to hockey.
“It was never a fact of if I was coming back,” Kennedy said. “It was how and when. And I figured I might as well get a good education while I was doing it, and Temple seemed like the good way to go.”
Even though Kennedy hasn’t played in three years, his 15 points in eight games leads the team and he has been a pleasant surprise for the Owls.
“I think he has caught most people by surprise,” senior forward Joe Pisko said. “We all knew he was talented, but after being out of the game for three years, no one expected the numbers he has put up so far.”
“He’s impacted the team in every aspect and all for the better,” sophomore forward and captain Greg Malinowski said. “He’s a true leader and he’s hungry to win and will do anything to win.”
Kennedy downplayed the significance of his hot streak.
“I’m just trying to find the net,” Kennedy said. “Trying to be in the right spot at the right time.”
Kennedy gives a lot of the credit to his linemates – junior forward Brady O’Donnell and sophomore forward Cody Vassa.
“We’re all clicking and we’re helping each other out, so it’s not really a specific individual effort by me,” Kennedy said. “I like playing with them a lot. We’re still working on chemistry, but we keep getting better and better.”
“The kid just knows how to find the back of the net,” coach Ryan Frain said. “Guys like that come through maybe once every couple of years, but when they do, you put them out there whenever you need them. He’s a special player.”
Even though Kennedy has already put up impressive numbers to start the season, Pisko said he believes the best is still yet to come.
“We are all in for a show when he hits mid-season form,” Pisko said. “I think he is just getting started.”
Samuel Matthews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SJMatthews13.