March is a special month for Ken Assad and his son, Adam.
On March 14, 1983, Ken scored the winning goal in overtime to give Franklin High its first State title in ice hockey, and on March 20, 2016, Adam was a key skater on the second Panthers squad to capture a State crown. Those two dates always produce big smiles and evoke fond memories for the only father-son tandem in Franklin to be part of two title-winning teams.
Ken actually is a two-time champ, because he was an assistant coach on the 2016 squad, and he’s now is in his ninth year as an aide to head coach Chris Spillane.
A senior, Ken played center and clinched the school’s first crown by scoring less than two minutes into overtime for a 5-4 triumph over Falmouth. Adam, a junior left wing in 2016, was the MVP in the State semifinal contest, scoring a pair of goals against Marshfield in a 3-1 victory that led to the State crown — a 4-3 win over St. Mary’s in double overtime.
In real time, 33 years and 63 minutes separate the two championships.
“Every year, when March arrives, it brings back great memories,’’ said Ken, who’s now 53. “I focus on both teams. March is fantastic, because I think of the never-give-up attitudes both squads had. It’s the culmination of hard work making two State championships a reality.’’
Adam, who’s now a 20-year-old sophomore majoring in business at Bryant University, also is moved by the events in March.
“Winning the championship was awesome,’’ he said. “Being with great teammates and having my father coaching was rewarding. March is a flashback to great success. Franklin High has had multiple chances to win State titles, and it’s hard to win one. Nothing compares to winning the crown three years ago at TD Garden and being on the same ice where the Bruins skate. It was such a positive experience, and I think about it at other times of the year.’’
The 1983 team, which finished with a 21-2 overall record, was coached by Bob Luccini. Its road to the title included triumphs over Medfield, Columbus, Wilmington and Falmouth, which defeated the Panthers for the State crown in 1982.
Ken, who played only his senior year on the varsity, finished 1983 with 11 goals and 24 assists. There was no bigger goal, however, then the overtime tally against Falmouth.
“I took a pass from my brother, skated up the ice and passed to Dave Sveden,’’ Ken recalled. “Dave shot from the left but the goalie made the save. The rebound went to the right and I scored on a snapshot from about 10 feet out.’’
“I remember coach Luccini’s brother, Gary, giving me a big hug,’’ noted Ken who also played on Franklin High’s State title baseball team in 1982. “Getting the winning goal in overtime was my top thrill as a player but seeing my son and the 2016 team win a State title tops what I did.
“As an assistant coach who worked with the defense in 2016, it was great to see the kids and the other coaches be rewarded. No one gave the 2016 team much of chance, because 21 seniors graduated from the 2015 team that competed in the Super 8 Tournament. And, looking back at the ’83 team, I was fortunate to play with superb players who wanted to win. They all fulfilled key roles.’’
Adam scored four goals in the playoffs, but his two tallies against Marshfield in the State semifinals were huge. He finished his junior year with 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points. To get to the final against St. Mary’s (Lynn), Franklin defeated Wellesley, Walpole, Newton North, and Marshfield. The 2016 squad ended its season with a record of 17-3-5.
“I skated on the first line and was on the bench when Luke Downie scored in the second overtime to win the title,’’ recalled Adam, who became a team captain as a senior. “I remember jumping over the boards to join my teammates in all the euphoria. It was extremely cool, because winning a State championship is a rare occurrence. I’d rate the Marshfield game as my best.’’
Both Ken and Adam played a similar style of hockey. They were aggressive, and their strengths were in alignment.
“I played all three zones intensely,’’ Ken said. “Back-checking was a plus for me, and I often won face-offs.’’ His other assets were his awareness on the ice, his hockey IQ was high, and he had some speed. Two key attributes were mental toughness and a positive attitude.
Adam didn’t take a back seat to anyone when he fought for the puck in the corners. “I was aggressive in that regard,’’ he said. “I could score but I relied on speed and quickness and being mentally tough.’’
Ken started playing hockey at six in the Franklin youth leagues and he was 5-7 and 140 pounds when he played in the State tourney. He was attracted to the sport “because it’s a team game, it’s fun, it’s physical and there’s a great spirit among the players.’’
Adam was four when he ventured onto the ice. “I quit early on because my feet hurt, but I got the itch to try again,’’ said Adam who played at 5-9 and 140 pounds during his three varsity seasons. “I was attracted to hockey, because it’s physical, fast-paced and you develop a close-knit tie with your friends. However, it is a grind and some rinks are bitter cold.’’
While Adam continues pursuit of his degree at Bryant, his father works as a sales estimator for Loughlin Electric in Franklin. A native of Worcester, Ken has lived in Franklin for 51 years. He and his wife Mary also have a daughter (Kelsey, 24).
As prime-time competitors, Ken and Adam Assad will always cherish their State titles. March, however, puts an exclamation point on the two crowns, and it also makes both realize that it took 33 years and 63 minutes for history to repeat itself.