Richie Gilboy, right, of South Portland knocks the puck away from Sam Belliveau of Falmouth during the Class A semifinals Wednesday at Cross Insurance Arena. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Nearly six years later, you can still find 12-year old Richie Gilboy online. Go to YouTube, and search “Big Daddy Hacks.” There’s Gilboy, grinning ear to ear and becoming an ESPN sensation.

“My name is Richie Gilboy, my friends call me Ricardo, and I take big daddy hacks,” Gilboy said in his taped introduction for ESPN’s broadcasts of the 2017 Little League New England Regional in Bristol, Connecticut. Then, there’s a highlight of Gilboy, South Portland’s catcher, hitting a mammoth home run off a pitcher from Vermont. Big daddy hacks indeed.

“It comes up once in a while. It was always a saying me and my teammates had with each other,” said Gilboy, now 18 and a senior at South Portland High. “The best part was we all stayed at the cabins there (at the Little League complex). The next day at breakfast, all the guys from other teams had seen SportsCenter the night before. They looked at me and said ‘There’s Big Daddy Hacks.'”

Baseball is still Gilboy’s main sport, and the one he’ll play when he enrolls at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. Right now, Gilboy’s attention is 100% focused on the ice.

Gilboy is one of the top high school hockey players in the state. A defenseman and captain for the South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete co-op team, Gilboy was recently named a semifinalist for the Travis Roy Award, given annually to the top senior boys’ hockey player in Class A. Selected first team all-Class A by the league’s coaches this season and last, Gilboy is on the ice delivering big daddy checks.

Gilboy and the Red Riots will face Thornton Academy for the Class A championship at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena. This is the first state championship game appearance for South Portland (12-8).


“He’s very stocky and rugged. You wouldn’t think he has fast feet and hands,” South Portland Coach Joe Robinson said of the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Gilboy. “Then he gets on the ice and does so much.”

Both Gilboy and Robinson say Gilboy’s best attribute is his hockey IQ. Gilboy has a feel for the game, and knows how to put himself in the right position to succeed. Robinson routinely will double-shift Gilboy at the start of a period to help set the tone.

“I’m not the most physically gifted player, but I try to make the smart play,” Gilboy said.

Richie Gilboy high-fives his coaches as the South Portland American All-Star Little League team was honored before a Portland Sea Dogs game at Hadlock Field in August 2017. Gilboy, then 12, embraced the nickname “Big Daddy Hacks.” Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Gilboy stays calm and maintains his composure in the most stressful situations, Robinson said. In a 5-1 semifinal win Wednesday over top-ranked Falmouth, a team that carried a 17-game winning streak into the game, Gilboy’s demeanor rubbed off on his teammates.

“On the ice, on the bench, he kept repeating ‘Be here now,'” Robinson said. “Of all the captains I’ve ever had, he’s the total package. He’s probably the best all-around player.”

Gilboy said the be-here-now mantra was just a reminder to his team to continue playing hard, every shift.


“I wanted us to keep the same energy the whole game,” Gilboy said.

Known more for his defensive prowess, Gilboy has the ability the jump up and contribute offensively and has eight goals this season. He opened the season with a hat trick in a 5-0 win over the Lake Region/Fryeburg/Oxford Hills co-op. He followed that by scoring the winning goal in a 4-3 victory over Falmouth on Dec. 13.

In the semifinal win over Falmouth on Wednesday, Gilboy’s hockey savvy helped set up the most important goal of the game.

It came in the final minute of the second period, with the Red Riots clinging to a 2-1 lead and Falmouth on the power play. Gaining control of the puck, Gilboy dumped it deep into the Navigators’ zone, knowing Casey MacVane had just taken the ice and had the fresh legs needed to get to it first. MacVane made a pass to Tobey Lappin, who scored a short-handed goal for a 3-1 lead.

“I knew Casey had a lane and a shot to at least get the puck deep and kill time,” Gilboy said.

Before games and before he enters the locker room in between each period, Robinson gives the players a few moments alone. Inevitably, it’s Gilboy’s voice he hears, taking charge of the room.

“I crack the door and I hear him talking,” said Robinson. “I can easily see him being a coach someday.”

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