A young hockey player’s idea of Heaven on Earth is to have his own full-sized rink operating year-round in the backyard. Jon Leonard knows. He spent nine years between ages 8 and 17 skating in Heaven. The rink, though, wasn’t exactly out in his backyard and it wasn’t his alone. It was the Souhegan Skating Center in Merrimack, which his parents co-owned with another family while they all lived in nearby Bedford.
“The family business had a profound impact on me,” he says. “It still does to this day, and will for the rest of my life. The Sou, as we called it, was a place to play hockey, to work, to have fun and meet people. I grew up there.”
And grow up he did, into an exceptional hockey player-a high school MVP, a three-time college All America and finally a pro in Sweden.
In addition to his long hours spent at The Sou, he played at all levels in the Manchester Youth Hockey Association, and as a Squirt went to the finals of the Mini 1-on-1 competition. Later, he skated for Cardigan Mountain School, excelling on the ice and at soccer and lacrosse. He was hockey captain, too.
Then, he enrolled at Trinity Pawling School in Pawling, NY where he again was hockey captain and an MVP. Varsity soccer and lacrosse also remained part of his athletic life.
At Bowdoin College (class of 1987), he was an outstanding defenseman who earned All-America honors in 1985, 1986 and 1987, one of only three Bowdoin hockey players ever to be selected for three seasons. In 1984, he was named ECAC Rookie of the Year, and then in 1985, 1986 and 1987 named an All-New England defenseman. He was team captain his senior season and his name, too, is frequently found on the list of Bowdoin hockey records held by defensemen. At Bowdoin, he also played varsity lacrosse for three seasons.
During Jon’s varsity hockey career, Bowdoin won the 1986 ECAC title after having been a runner-up in 1984. The team also reached the ECAC semifinals in 1985 and 1987.
Jon, in 1987, was selected in the NHL’s Supplemental Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins but had already decided to sign a contract with Vita Hästen, a Division I professional team in Sweden. In nine pro years, he played 291 regular-season and playoff games, scoring 25 goals and 42 assists.
Since the 2002-03 season, he has been coaching in the Vita Hästen youth program.
Currently, Jon lives in Norrkoping, Sweden. He has one son, Desmond, and is employed by a Swedish company as a programmer consultant.