The effects of the coronavirus pandemic briefly gave a little, then took a lot from Kevin Kanaczet’s hockey career, but they won’t keep him from continuing that career.
The Narragansett resident was a senior leader on the La Salle Academy hockey team that earned a spot in the state championship series. The pandemic initially shifted the series to Boss Arena at the University of Rhode Island, where Kanaczet grew up playing.
“That would have been really cool,” Kanaczet said.
A few days later, the series was canceled. It was tough to swallow then and still is now, but Kanaczet is turning his attention to the next time he laces up his skates. He’ll either play for the University of Rhode Island’s club team – if classes are back on campus and there’s a hockey season – or potentially play a year of junior hockey if not. He is looking forward to whatever opportunity emerges.
Hockey and baseball have been big parts of Kanaczet’s life since his days with Southern Rhode Island Youth Hockey and Narragansett Little League. He also played soccer and flag football on the side. After attending elementary school at Monsignor Clarke, he went to middle school at Narragansett Pier School, where he added basketball just for fun and was part of a state championship team.
He chose La Salle over Bishop Hendricken and Prout, falling in love with the school after shadowing there. And he was eager to join the school’s hockey powerhouse.
“It’s great. The environment, the legacy, the alumni that have played before,” he said. “They created this winning tradition. It’s such a great thing to be a part of and now I get to be a part of it forever. It’s something special.”
Unlike most of his La Salle teammates, Kanaczet never played elite travel hockey, opting to stay in the state league ranks with SRI, and it worked out perfectly fine. He earned a spot on the first line with the Rams in his freshman year.
“I played state league at SRI all the way to high school, which is not that normal. Most of the kids that I played with at La Salle were playing Saints or Capitals, not state league like I did, so that was pretty cool,” Kanaczet said. “Those teams are so much more money, and I don’t think my parents believed in it honestly, because I was so young. I’m a 10-year-old, is it really worth it to pay thousands of dollars extra? It didn’t really matter. I still got to go to La Salle and play there, like everybody else.”
Kanaczet also played baseball for the Rams as a freshman and a sophomore before shifting his focus almost entirely to hockey, outside of summer legion baseball with Post 39. Hockey had always been his favorite sport, the one he enjoyed the most and one with family roots. His dad, uncle and grandfather all played.
“It’s in the family,” he said. “I loved it right away. It’s always been my number one.”
Kanaczet was part of a state championship team in 2018. He and his senior teammates were looking for another run this year. Kanaczet had 13 goals and 19 assists on his way to third-team all-division honors, and the Rams went 13-1 en route to the top seed for the playoffs. They swept Burrillville in the semifinals, with Kanaczet tallying a goal and two assists in the series, and were set to face Mount St. Charles for the championship.
The week leading up to the title series was a rollercoaster. As national events began to be impacted, the series was shifted from Meehan Auditorium at Brown to Boss Arena.
“That would have been so sick for me,” Kanaczet said. “Me and my parents were talking about it – starting there and ending my high school career there, how cool that would have been, especially if we had won the state championship.”
The next development was a move to play the series with no spectators. Then Boss Arena became unavailable. There was talk of one, winner-take-all game at a smaller rink. Finally, when schools were closed, the series was canceled.
“That day when we found out in school, we all met up after school and started crying,” Kanaczet said. “When I got home, I put my bag down and just cried with my dad. I didn’t know what to do. It was terrible.”
Aside from the difficult ending, Kanaczet had no complaints about his time at La Salle. He was an honor roll student and won the school’s Lou Cimini Award this year.
He’s been working out at home in preparation for what comes next.
“It’s awesome just to be able to keep playing,” he said. “I’ve always loved hockey so I can’t wait.”