The boys hockey team may be smaller this year than last, but what it lost in size it should make up with speed. It features a number of fast skaters and adept passers that should keep their opponents on their heels all season long.
Last year the Vineyarders returned to the post-season after a two-year absence and lost to Oliver Ames in the quarterfinals of the South Division II state tournament.
The Vineyarders lost seven players from last year: Nelson Dickson, Colby Gouldrup, Tyler Araujo, Charles Goldthwait, Bobby Perry, Noah Stobie, and goalie Mike Sylvia.
This 2012-2013 version of the Vineyarders will be led by players like junior forward Tyson Araujo, junior forward Brian Frasier, senior defenseman Brian Hurley, senior Max Davies, and sophomore Matt Davies.
Senior defenseman Charlie Ashmun has been named the captain of the team; Araujo, Frasier, and Hurley have all been named assistant captains. Seniors Shay Hill and Kip Cooperrider are expected to see a lot of time on the ice, as well as sophomore Alexander Vukota.
The team has two new goalies this year, freshman Wyatt Jenkinson and senior Marc Natichioni. Jenkinson played goalie in youth hockey for many years and Natichioni played goalie on the junior varsity team the last few years.
Coach Matt Mincone said both goalies are expected to see time in goal.
The team has been scrimmaging and practicing this week, and coach Mincone said he has seen some good things and bad things. He said the team is blessed with speed and all of the players have a strong work ethic.
“We have a very good, fast team, and it’s a team that works hard and is fearless. They are not afraid of getting in front of the puck,” he said.
But he said the team has to learn patience on offense. “We have to learn to play like a chess game, to wait out other teams and pounce on them when they make a mistake. If we play checkers, and are skating all over the place with no plan, we are going to be in trouble.”
The team has played scrimmages for the past two weeks against talented teams like Needham, Hamden (Conn.), and Beverly and struggled at times.
“I don’t think we won any of [the scrimmages], although there were stretches when we played well,” the coach said. “Right now I have a team I can’t get a read on. They are a group willing to work, but there is definitely room for improvement.”
The coach admitted scrimmages are not the best barometer of the team’s abilities since he intentionally schedules scrimmages against tougher teams. He also tries different combinations of players that might not play together during the regular season.
But he could tell from the scrimmages there was more work to do. “We’re a young team and we’ve been through this before. We’re ahead on our drills, but we still have to get better in game situations. This is a team with a great upside, but we need to be patient and use our speed the right way,” he said.
The team plays its home opener on Saturday against Lowell Catholic at the MV Arena at 5 pm.