It’s a case of “so far, so good” for the Masconomet girls hockey team.
Going back to the 2017 state tournament, the Chieftains are 6-1 in their last two tournaments. Of course, there’s a lot riding on the state tournament each March, and their most recent tournament, the Pingree Tournament, is a preseason showdown. Even still, the recent 3-0 run in the Pingree Tournament, combined with what the Chieftains have coming back from last year’s 3-1 run in the state tournament has second-year head coach Ryan Sugar extremely excited.
“The team looks good. The depth looks better than last year,” said Sugar. “I ran four lines clear through the weekend. Either of my top two lines could run as the first line. I have a third line with two very strong freshmen and a junior, and my fourth line can also play well.”
The Chieftains will start on Wednesday against Winthrop, after they get a couple more scrimmages in this week. They will do so with a 23-player roster that once again includes players from Masconomet, Newburyport, Amesbury, Triton and Georgetown.
“It fluctuates every year how many come from each school. Triton is the only school we didn’t get anyone new from. Masconomet and Newburyport students make up the bulk of the group,” added Sugar.
Up front, the Chieftains said goodbye last spring to top scorer Izzy Sarra (of Newburyport). However, in a fortuitous turn of events, they are getting back a high scorer from a previous team. Charisse Flanagan rejoins the Chieftains. She had played as a freshman and sophomore before joining Matignon last year.
“She had something like 30-32 points for Matignon last year, so she’s back for her senior year,” said Sugar. “She flies back into that [top scorer] spot. We kind of stay right there, offensively. It worked out nicely.”
The defense will feature Riane Vatcher, of Triton, as its top returning talent. Vatcher joins fellow senior tri-captains Kate Irons (Georgetown) and Sami Kelleher (Newburyport) as the captaincy trio.
The team bid farewell to top pairing seniors Madi Brooke and Rachael Duval – from the playing roster, at least.
“Rachael is a volunteer assistant coach this year, working with myself and [Maggie] Bridgeo,” said Sugar. “It’s going to kill any team to lose those two, but I have the core of my defense back, as well as three freshmen defensemen. Everyone returning on the defense stepped up their game a lot. I’m very pleased with what I saw, from what I was expecting this year.”
In goal, sophomore Molly Elmore, of Newburyport, is back after an increasingly stronger year as the 2016-17 season went along.
“She has looked good over the preseason,” said Ryan, who said he’s also happy to have a backup goalie this year in freshman Katerina Done.
After the game against Winthrop, the Chieftains have a second Northeast Girls Hockey League game right in a row, taking on Medford/Malden on Saturday, Dec. 16.