The Hopkinton High School boys ice hockey team has had to adapt and roll with the changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. At one point, ice hockey was shut down in the state as cases of the virus began to rise. But with an abbreviated 2021 season having begun last week, coach Chris MacPherson said his team was ready to hit the ice safely, and competitively.
“The guys are handling everything well, I have been pleasantly surprised,” MacPherson said. “I think we are at the stage now in this pandemic, nine months into it, where the kids know what they have to do. It’s been an adjustment to go to school, it’s been an adjustment to play sports and they’ve been adjusting for months now.”
MacPherson acknowledged that it was a question mark whether the high school season would ever get underway. After the sport was paused in the state, he said people at the rinks have been more vigilant and the players have gotten used to having to socially distance while on the benches.
The requirements will mean that the Hillers cannot use some of the rinks they would normally use during a season because there is not enough room in the bench areas.
But, despite the fact that it is only a 10-game season against five other Tri-Valley League foes, a combination of seniors and younger players is hoping to lead the Hillers back to the top of the standings.
Sophomores Pavit Mehra and Joe Carrazza will see significant minutes on the forward lines. A number of seniors also are looking to play large roles this year, including Geoffrey Tocco and Aidan Walsh up front and Quentin Barnes on the blue line.
Defensemen Ronnie Shamus and Cam Jerrett are four-year members of the program, and junior Michael Berman is expected to move into a top-four role as a defenseman.
Senior Colin Norred and sophomore Jonathan Lang will see time in goal after playing limited minutes behind the since-graduated Gray Bailey a season ago.
“We have a big senior class,” MacPherson said. “But after that, it’s a younger group.”
Hopkinton opened the season against Norwood on Jan. 6. As was the case for several team sports in the fall, ice hockey will play home-and-home series against one opponent before moving on to the next team.
“We are the defending TVL champs, so we want to win as many games as we can,” MacPherson said. While Hopkinton is a year away from moving to the Division 2 level, all but one of the five teams it will play this winter is a D2 team.
“It’s a little bit different, but we will go along with what is put in front of us,” the coach said. “The goal is always to go out and compete as best we can and see what happens from there.”