From his roots on the ice at Thayer Arena, Bobby Gauthier has skated a long way. He won a state championship at Bishop Hendricken, played prep school hockey, hit the college ranks and is now finding his way into the showcase world as he works with a New Jersey-based company called Hockey Essentials.
His brother Andrew never got the chance at a hockey journey. Complications from leukemia took him when he was in high school at Toll Gate, when his hockey career was just beginning.
But the hockey festival named in Andrew’s honor will get the chance.
Bobby and his father, Bob, have unveiled their plans for a makeover to an event that’s become a fixture on the local hockey calendar.
In 2015, the Andrew J. Gauthier Hockey Festival hits the next level.
“We want to keep our roots, but really blossom it out,” Bobby said. “I think it’s going to be fantastic.”
The festival made its debut in 2008, soon after Andrew’s death in the spring of 2007. It was created as the signature event for the Andrew J. Gauthier Scholarship Fund, which has given thousands to college-bound Warwick student-athletes over the years. Since its inception, the festival has featured similar formats – a few youth hockey games, but mostly high school hockey match-ups between local teams.
Those high school games will remain, but from now on, they’ll be part of something bigger – the Andrew J. Gauthier Cup, powered by Hockey Essentials. It’ll be a showcase event for elite U-16 and U-18 teams, covering three days, with games at Thayer Arena but also under the bright lights at Providence College’s Schneider Arena and Brown University’s Meehan Auditorium. High school games will be mixed into the showcase schedule.
Bobby Gauthier envisions high-level hockey with scouts and college coaches in the stands, the kind of event that will be pretty unique in the Rhode Island hockey world.
And it will all have his brother’s name on it.
It’s the best of both worlds.
“It’s still about the scholarship fund and remembering Andrew, but we want to take the hockey part of it to the next level,” Gauthier said.
Part of that desire is a product of a new twist on Gauthier’s hockey passion. After finishing his hockey career at Becker College, he got into marketing and advertising. Hockey still tugged at him, so he began working with Hockey Essentials last year. He’s a recruiter and the head of marketing for the company, which fields tournament teams, runs showcases and camps and helps young hockey players chase down a future in the sport. Products of the program have gone on to the NHL, the AHL and Division I college hockey.
The chance to incorporate his work at Hockey Essentials with his family’s festival and scholarship fund was too good to pass up.
On the home front, the desire to transform the festival has been building for a while. The teams now feature players who were in elementary school when Andrew was at Toll Gate. The connections aren’t as strong. On top of that, hockey teams at the Warwick public schools have fallen on hard times.
“I think we knew this day would come where we would change things up,” Gauthier said.
He views the Gauthier Cup as the perfect next step. It will continue to raise money for the scholarship fund – which will continue to help Warwick students – but the hockey will get a boost. Gauthier hopes to attract top teams from around the region, while also reserving spots for Rhode Island teams. The high school teams will still have the spotlight, too. Showcase MVPs will get scholarships, as well, and players voted to the All-Tournament teams will receive an invite to a Hockey Essentials Showcase.
It’s a win-win.
“At the end of the day, we’re very excited about it,” Gauthier said. “I’m very proud to direct my brother’s showcase to the next level. It represents the caliber of player he was, along with the love that we shared for the game of hockey.”
His hockey journey continues.
He’s happy his brother’s festival will be along for the ride.
William Geoghegan is the sports editor at the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @RhodyWill.