The Hopkinton High School boys ice hockey team earned a spot in the state tournament last season with a .500 record, but having most of his roster back this winter has coach Scott Hayes aiming to eclipse last year’s success.
“We want to be a tournament team, but we also really take it one game at a time and we don’t get ahead of ourselves,” Hayes said. “I like to focus on the next day, what do we need to take care of the next day? I think if we keep our focus on succeeding on a daily basis, that will lead us where we want to go.”
Hayes said the Hillers came into the new season in shape, focused and excited. Despite graduating a half-dozen seniors from last year’s roster, Hopkinton returned the bulk of the players who saw significant roles last winter and added a pair of players who previously played junior hockey instead of competing for HHS.
Senior captain Joe Carrazza is helping to lead the team and provide a boost on offense.
“He is a speedy forward and a good goal scorer,” Hayes said. “He is really one of the emotional leaders on our team. His play sets the tone for everyone else on the roster, so we lean on Joey for a lot of leadership and scoring.”
Another senior, Joe Scardino, is a heady player and the prototypical “power forward,” Hayes said.
“He can put the puck in the net and he is an excellent skater and a very, very smart player,” the coach said. “He is anchoring our top power-play unit.”
On the blue line, the Hillers lean on senior Drew Morse, another captain who is a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to playing on the top defensive line, Morse can score goals on the power play and on the rush.
“Drew is very important to us,” Hayes said.
Senior goalie Jack Lang returns for another year, and Hayes said the Hillers began the season expecting another solid performance from the experienced netminder. Lang has Morse and senior Dylan Mansur helping him out on the defensive end of the ice.
“Dylan is a very, very skilled defenseman,” Hayes said. “We are looking for him to score some goals for us. He is on the power play unit and we can always trust him to handle the puck.”
Mansur is one of two seniors who is suiting up for Hopkinton after playing junior hockey last winter. Senior Pavit Mehra is the other and made an immediate impact for the Hillers by scoring two goals and adding an assist in each of the first three games of the year.
“We are expecting him to put the puck in the net all season,” Hayes said.
Another new impact player is freshman forward Cam MacPherson, who is on the top line along with Mehra and Carrazza. He also scored in his first three games at the varsity level and is contributing by taking faceoffs and playing on the top power-play unit.
“Any freshman who can come in and play right away is really a coach’s dream,” Hayes said.
Hayes is hoping the experience and talent will help his team compete in a strong Tri-Valley League, where Norwood, Medfield, and Westwood figure to be among the Hillers’ top competition.
“It’s such a good league and there is great parity,” Hayes said. “You have to be ready on any given night.”