FEBRUARY 2017 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 25
ike most kids his age, Michael Linder
dreams of one day playing in the NHL.
Or suiting up for the Boston Red Sox. Or
maybe even becoming an Olympic wrestler.
But it's hockey that occupies the lion's
share of this 11-year-old's time.
A t y p i c a l d a y s t a r t s w i t h a n e a r -
ly-morning game of knee hockey. If his
twin brother, Jack, or older brother,
Billy, aren't around, Michael stickhandles through
the chairs and table legs in his Branford, Conn., home.
After school, the fourth grader at Francis Walsh
Intermediate School can be found watching hockey
highlights on his computer, or outside playing street
hockey in a nearby cul-de-sac.
The brothers are often joined by Zack Jones, a neigh-
bor who plays on the varsity high school team, for
a 2-on-2 game. The stakes are high with their own
version of the Stanley Cup up for grabs, and emotions
can run hot when it comes down to crunch time, which
often coincides with dinner time.
"They don't cut Michael any slack," says his father,
Dennis. "If Michael misses a pass, Zack will tear him up."
A Relentless Drive and
Passion For The Game
Helps Youth Hockey Player
Reach For The Stars
By Harry Thompson
Photos by John Steady