Globe North Sports

Hockey player rallies for fallen friend
Teammate offers strength after two on-ice accidents

By John Vellante
Globe Correspondent / January 16, 2011

The seeds of their friendship were sewn on a rink during the 2007-2008 season. Tommy Smith was skating for Pingree School in Hamilton and Tucker Mullin was a postgrad student at Phillips Academy in Andover.

Less than a year later, the two were teammates on the Boston Bulldogs of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League. The future was bright for both: Smith, a high-scoring winger from Swampscott, and Mullin, a former Merrimack Valley Conference Division 2 MVP at Andover High. The sky was the limit.

But their lives changed forever during a game in August 2008 at a Haverhill rink.

Smith was chasing a player on a breakaway bid. As the Bulldogs goalie came out to cut down the angle, Smith jumped, but one of his skates caught a piece of the netminder’s equipment, sending the forward crashing into the boards headfirst.

Motionless on the ice, he was rushed to the hospital. Four vertebrae were damaged. Months of recovery followed, leading to a miraculous recovery that landed him back on the ice.