Rise of a new general
Middle Gaudette brother Brady shining in his first year with NAHL franchise
By Jonathan Sigal
The ways to describe Brady Gaudette, a forward in his first year with the NAHL’s Northeast Generals, are far-reaching.
At 5-foot-9, he’s an undersized player who draws inspiration from Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins. That’s where his uptempo play, high-end skill and grittiness come from.
There are clutch moments like the overtime game-winner he scored on Sept. 23 against the Amarillo Bulls at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn. And then how, prior to joining the Generals, he spent much of his youth hockey career with the Boston Advantage instead of with Braintree High.
But the one that sticks out the most to Bryan Erikson, general manager of the Generals, is Gaudette’s upbringing. His mom’s a teacher and his dad’s a plumber and firefighter, instilling a strong work ethic in the 18-year-old. That’s placed Gaudette on one of the Generals’ top lines, as well as their power-play and penalty-kill units.
He’s also the middle of three brothers, with the youngest, Cameron, a defenseman on the Advantage and an affiliate player for the Generals. The oldest — perhaps you’ve put two and two together — is Adam, a star forward at Northeastern and a Vancouver Canucks draft pick.
That duo — Adam and Brady — were stuck like glue while growing up. They’d play street hockey and knee hockey together, with Brady looking to tag along with Adam whenever time allowed.
"I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone who wants it as much as Brady," Adam said. "He works sometimes a little too hard and passes out at like 6 at night. It’s going to pay off one day."
Joe Lovell, Brady’s coach with the Generals, also picked up on his determination. When Adam was younger and playing for the ’96 Boston Junior Terriers, Lovell would hold a skills session at Bajko Rink in Hyde Park, Mass Only aged 6 or 7, Brady would join, looking to impress his big brother’s friends and coaches.
"He comes from a family where they’re always looking to improve," Lovell said. "Even if he scores two or three, he thinks he could’ve scored five. That will is there — they’re hockey players. They love the game."
Even now, Brady still looks up to Adam, making his way out to Matthews Arena for every Northeastern home game that he can. He stressed that he’s a very different player than Adam, who’s more of a sharpshooter and setup man.
"We talk about hockey all the time," Brady said. "We’re always shooting each other texts saying, ‘No my ‘celly’ was better, my goal was better.’ It gets pretty funny at times."
Gaudette, though, is far more than the second son in a line of three. He has dreams of his own to play Division 1 hockey. He’s yet to commit to a school and wants to keep his opportunities, though some gravitate toward the idea of him, too, sticking local.
"I feel like the Northeastern idea is more people assuming," Gaudette said. "It would be awesome to play where Adam went, but I’ll play anywhere. It’s all about finding the right fit."
When the time does come around, Erikson doesn’t think that’ll be a problem whatsoever.
"Some expect to see Adam, but they’re very different players, very different personalities," Erikson said. "If his last name wasn’t Gaudette, he’d still be getting offers. We sure didn’t take him because of his last name. We took him because he’s his own player, an awesome player. Brady is a D-1 hockey player."
The same, by and large, held true for Lovell: "Being the middle child and battling with brothers, he has that little edge at times. He’s definitely a competitor, the type coaches love to have on their team."
So this season — his first in the higher ranks of junior hockey — Gaudette’s focus is on getting the puck to the net and avoiding "cute" plays. As part of that charge, he’s found himself on a line with Mike Egan (Billerica, Mass.) and Matthew Wiesner, who are each one year Gaudette’s elder.
They’re clicking, too, for a Generals team that’s enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in its second year of existence. One year ago, they finished with a 4-53-3 record. Now, through their first 12 games, the Generals were 10-2 and led the East Division.
During that stretch, the Gaudette-Egan-Wiesner line chipped in 36 points, and the expectation is Brady’s influence will only grow as he further adjusts to juniors. For one, his older brother doesn’t envision any hiccups along that path.
"Honestly, I think he can play almost anywhere based off his work ethic," Adam said. "The only thing holding him back now is size, but he can’t focus on that too much. I see a lot of guys that are smaller than him right now in college hockey who are just as skilled and playing good minutes."
Quality minutes — that phrase weighs on Gaudette’s mind this pivotal year. He’s still the same kid who grew up in a hockey family and a blue-collar household, all near the Red Line’s last stop. But he wants something bigger, something beyond all he’s known. And he plans on getting it.
"I try to live up to everything, but they’re big shoes to fill," Gaudette said. "I want to see where this all takes me."