Sports Person of the Week
Brubacher Was Born to Play Hockey
Senior Eli Brubacher finished his high school hockey career by helping North Haven win its first conference title this winter, while leading the team as an alternate captain. (Photo courtesy of Eli Brubacher )
Eli Brubacher has loved playing hockey ever since he first stepped on the ice. In his four years with the North Haven boys’ ice hockey squad, Eli established himself as an offense force and ultimately became a captain for a team that won a conference title this winter.
Eli’s father Jeffrey always loved hockey, but never had an opportunity to play. Jeffrey signed up both Eli and his older brother Simon to play hockey when they were youngsters. Eli says that playing alongside Simon, who was also a captain for North Haven, helped him grow as a hockey player, while fostering his love for the sport.
“My dad always loved hockey. He didn’t get a chance to play it growing up, so he pushed us in that direction, and we learned from there,” Eli says. “Playing with Simon was pretty awesome. Growing up, we would always skate together and know where each other were going to be. We played on the same line for North Haven. We would just find each other. Our chemistry was pretty good.”
Eli competed in the East Haven Youth Hockey program from age four until high school. Eli feels that playing so much hockey helped him improve his offensive skills. Eli started to realize that he could succeed in hockey and wanted to continue with the sport.
“Even as a kid, I loved it so much,” says Eli. “I realized I was getting pretty good, and I realized I wanted to continue it. I wanted to pursue it.”
Eli played in almost all of North Haven’s varsity games during his freshman season. It was quite an adjustment for Eli to make the leap to high school hockey. However, while he may have been the young guy on the ice, Eli found that playing against tougher competition as a freshman showed him what was needed to succeed at the varsity level.
“It was pretty different. I was 14 going against 17- and 18 year-olds. It was a pretty big jump,” Eli says. “But I’ve always liked playing against people who are bigger than me. It’s the only way you can get better, playing people that are better than you.”
By his sophomore season, Eli was a starting forward on North Haven’s first line. That year also marked Eli’s first chance to play on the same line with his brother Simon, who graduated from North Haven in 2019. Eli says that starting alongside Simon helped him realize his potential as a hockey player.
Eli continued to put in the hard work to become the best player he could be.
Eli turned in a prolific junior season that saw him consistently contribute on the scoresheet. Eli then entered his senior year as one of North Haven’s captains, leading the team with senior captains Will Fiore and Nick Howlett, along with his fellow alternate captain Andrew Sacco.
Eli capped off his high school hockey career by helping North Haven claim its first conference title with a 3-0 win against Cheshire in the SCC-SWC Division II final. Eli says that leaving Bennett Rink as a conference champion is a feeling he will never forget.
“When I was a sophomore, I never thought I would get to my senior year. It was so far away. This year was especially crazy with everything going on with quarantining,” says Eli. “It was pretty amazing playing with my linemates and winning it all. It’s the best wish you could ask for, going out with a ring on your finger. It was the best feeling in the world.”
Eli predominately played left wing for North Haven. This year, he suited up alongside senior Aaron Racino and junior Jake Hines on the first line. Eli loves the rush that comes with putting the puck past the opposing goalie.
“It almost doesn’t feel real,” Eli says of scoring a goal. “You shoot it and see the net in the back move. You just scored. It’s a crazy feeling. There’s nothing like it.”
Eli plans to major in computer science in college after he graduates from North Haven. He is a dual citizen of Canada and is potentially planning to attend a school up there. Eli also wants to continue playing hockey at either the Division III or Juniors level.
After growing up on the ice, Eli finished his North Haven hockey career with a championship to his name. Eli loves everything about hockey and says that playing the sport is unlike anything he’s ever experienced.
“It’s the uniqueness of the game. It’s nothing like any other sport,” says Eli. “You’re skating on the ice, and you’re going so fast. When you score, you hear your teammates cheering. You look up at the scoreboard, and you see that you did that. It’s a crazy sport.”