Nov. 14, 2002
Notre Dame, Ind. –
By Tim Connor
Hockey has taken Notre Dame junior defenseman Tom Galvin all over the map during his career. Along the way, he has experienced various trials and tribulations that have helped him keep the game he loves in perspective.
A native of Miller Place, N.Y. on Long Island, the smooth-skating Irish defenseman cut his hockey teeth by playing street hockey and deck hockey. It’s hard to believe that someone with the outstanding skating skills that Galvin possesses didn’t hit the ice until he was 12 years old.
“I started playing hockey on the streets when I was five or six years old. My brothers and I played street hockey or deck hockey all the time,” says Galvin who will celebrate his 23rd birthday tomorrow.
“As far as my skating goes, once I started playing, my dad got me involved with skating coaches. I had three different coaches growing up and I went three times a week at four or five in the morning,” explains Galvin.
A management information systems major in the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame, Galvin played three years of bantam hockey on Long Island before starting the hockey journey that would eventually bring him to South Bend.
Galvin attended Canterbury Prep School in Milford, Conn., for four years where he was a four-year letterwinner. As a junior, he led Canterbury to the conference, regional and state title. The following year, he was team captain, team MVP and an all-conference selection.
“Prep school hockey was the best route to take to try to get a college scholarship back then,” says Galvin.
“I really didn’t get any good offers for college out of high school so I went to the USHL.”
The next stop was Waterloo, Iowa and the Waterloo Blackhawks.
In two seasons in Waterloo, Galvin came into his own as a solid, two-way defenseman. After scoring five goals with 21 assists in his rookie year, his game took on all-star status in 1999-2000.
Galvin was the second-leading scorer among United States Hockey League defensemen with nine goals and 33 assists for 42 points and was named the Blackhawks Most Valuable Player. He was chosen second team all-USHL for the season and played in the USHL all-star game. From there, Notre Dame came into view.
“I played two years in Waterloo and my time there really helped me develop as a player,” says Galvin.
“Andy Slaggert (Irish assistant coach) saw me in an all-star tournament and invited me to visit Notre Dame. I came here and I loved the place and that’s how I got here.”
Part of a recruiting class that included three other defenseman, Galvin stepped right into the Irish lineup and contributed early in his rookie year. He played in the first eight games of the season before a freak injury put him on the sidelines for two months.
During practice, a teammate’s skate cut Galvin’s left arm. The cut severed seven tendons in the arm. Emergency surgery was successful in repairing the injury, but the steady defenseman would have to sit and watch for eight long weeks.
“Getting hurt was very disheartening at first. I had played well the previous weekend against Michigan State and was starting to get adjusted to the college game,” explains Galvin.
“The injury slowed me down, but it also made me realize how much I enjoy playing hockey. Once I was able to get back on the ice, things came back to me pretty quick.”
Galvin finished that first season playing in 26 games and recorded four assists. His game really came into its’ own the following year.
In 2001-02, Galvin led all Irish defensemen in scoring with four goals and 19 assists for 23 points and was eighth among all CCHA defensemen. His +11 plus-minus rating was second on the team.
More than anything, the talented blueliner and his teammates started to jell as a unit. Usually paired with fellow junior Neil Komadoski, the duo became key contributors as the season went on.
“Neil and I really compliment each other pretty well. He likes to play a physical game and I rely more on my skating and moving the puck,” said Galvin.
The 2001-02 season was a success on the ice for the hard-working defenseman, but events of the year helped give him a newfound perspective on hockey and his family.
While the rest of us, sat and watched events of September 11th and the months that followed, Galvin knew first-hand what the firefighters and rescue workers were going through.
His father, Thomas Galvin, Sr., is a battalion chief in the New York Fire Department and was at the World Trade Center moments after the attacks occurred.
“When I first heard about it, I wasn’t sure if he was working that day, but he was there 15 minutes after the first call. I called home, but couldn’t get through because the phones were tied up, so I came to the rink,” says Galvin.
“I was worried, but not that worried. You know, it’s your dad and nothing is going to happen to him. My brother instant-messaged Gilly (roommate Aaron Gill) and told him that he was okay, but that I probably wouldn’t be able to talk to him for a couple of days. That was a huge sigh of relief for me.”
While growing up around firefighters his entire life, the events of September 11 gave him a better appreciation what his father does for a living.
“I definitely have a better appreciation for what he does. My dad has always been my hero, a Superman-type, so when September 11 happened, it just put all that into focus for me. It has also really helped me realize what is important,” says Galvin.
“A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to him after one of our games about how I didn’t play well and he started telling me about guys at the firehouse whose friends had been killed and how their wives were struggling. It made me realize that hockey is just a game, that there are more important things happening around us.”
Galvin added, “September 11th was a tragedy, but it was also a great learning experience for everyone who witnessed it or was affected by it in some way. For me, I’m just very grateful that my dad is still here to watch me play hockey.”