Pinho following in footsteps of recent St. John’s alums

By Richard Murray
Brian Pinho - St. John's Prep

Photo: St. John’s Prep center Brian Pinho, a likely selection at the 2013 NHL Draft, will attend Providence College beginning in the fall of 2013 (courtesy of Mr. David Malaro/St. John’s Prep)

Despite a tough exit in the Massachusetts high school Super Eight tournament, Brian Pinho has had a lot of support at St. John’s Prep to help him get ready for this season's NHL Draft.

Pinho chose to stick out his four high school seasons rather than play juniors or prep school like many others in his situation have done.

At St. John’s, the Eagles have recently developed a fresh core of young NHL Draft selections and NCAA commits. Harvard’s Colin Blackwell and Boston University’s Sam Kurker both have been drafted and played with Pinho at St. John’s. Pinho will join Kurker and Blackwell in the Division 1 ranks as he has committed to Providence College, in Hockey East.

“Through St. John’s I have had some really good role models like Colin Blackwell and Sam Kurker,” Pinho said.

“I am definitely [excited] for the chance to play against Blackwell and Kurker in college. I grew up watching Hockey East, so it was always something that I wanted to do. It is cool to be able to go watch those games because they are packed; it’s a great atmosphere.”

Pinho is ranked 109th among North American skaters in Central Scouting's final rankings for the 2013 NHL Draft. Pinho has made a name for himself this season tearing up Massachusetts high school hockey and the highly competitive Catholic Conference. Pinho averaged two points-per-game, scoring 42 points (15g, 27a), in 24 games.

“He is a guy that you want to have the puck especially on the power play,” St. John’s Prep coach Kristian Hanson said. “Sometimes I wish he would shoot it a little bit more, but again that comes more because of his natural ability to be a playmaker. He’ll figure it out, though, and I’m sure Providence will have a spot for him.”

The pressure of the NHL Draft and being a Hockey East commit can great, but Pinho did not have many problems dealing with that during the season.

“It is something that can get into your head whether you are playing well or not playing well,” Pinho said. “I try not to think about it, just play my game, and do the best that I can.”

At just 175 pounds, Pinho isn’t really a power forward. But he is able to use his 6'1” size to his advantage in many different ways on the ice.

“Brian has good size,” Hanson said. “He shields the puck well; he is hard to knock off the puck. It gets a lot tougher when you are playing in Hockey East, we’ll see what he does there, but at [the high school] level he is a very dominant player."

Pinho has been able to attend the USA Hockey National Development camp over the past few summers, which has given him a chance to play with some of the top players of his age bracket.

“When you go out there the kids are a lot bigger, faster, stronger, and play a different game,” Pinho said.

“You get to meet some of the top rated kids in my age group, so it is a good experience to be able to go against them. When I come back here, I am also able to share what I have learned out there with my [teammates at St. John’s]. I definitely came back with more confidence.”

Pinho has tremendous ability as a playmaker as he tries to model his own game around Sidney Crosby and David Krejci. Although Pinho does have the ability to score goals, his play-making ability comes by nature.

“I would say [Brian’s play-making] is his best asset on the ice,” Hanson said.

“He handles the puck well, shields the puck well, has good vision, but the ability to make players around him better is his best quality.”

With Kurker and Blackwell both gone this season, Pinho had some big shoes to fill in the leadership department as the captain of the Eagles. With an older group that featured a lot of seniors, he was tasked with making sure the group remained intact.

“He did a great job this season as the captain,” Hanson said. “We have a lot of seniors, so he has been amongst a bunch of friends. They have been a good group of guys, and they have really helped set the focus to our team. I would lean towards this being a good cohesive group that he has done a really good job keeping together where it should be.”

Where Pinho will end up at this summers NHL Draft remains to be seen, but after a strong senior season, he could be a steal for a team in the later rounds of the draft.

Follow Rich Murray on Twitter via @Richie_Murray