Sugar takes reins of Masconomet girls hockey program
By Matt Williams Staff writer 16 hrs ago
When recently hired Masconomet girls hockey coach Ryan Sugar was looking into his new program, one thing jumped out as a potential goal for the 2016-17 season.
With the Chieftains having lost in the first round of the state tournament in five straight years, getting over that hump seems like a great place to start.
“I’m not entirely sure going in, but it seems like it’s a tournament ready team,” said Sugar. “It seems like that first tournament game has been a tough one for them, and we’re hoping maybe we can get to game two. Getting in is the number one goal, of course, but getting past that first one will be a big one.”
Sugar takes over for Ryan Wood, who amassed a 20-17-5 record in two years before stepping down last summer. A native of Wakefield, Sugar comes to Masconomet from Beaver Country Day, where he helped found the girls ice hockey program five years ago.
“My full-time job had underwent some changes and Beaver is in Boston, so the commute wasn’t always easy,” said Sugar, who now lives in Danvers. “Masco’s a well-known and successful program so when the job opened up I definitely wanted to apply.”
As a co-operative program, the Chieftains roster includes players from host Masco as well as Newburyport, Triton, Georgetown and Amesbury. The squad had a number of strong underclassmen a season ago, including Salem News all-stars Izzy Sarra and Kate Irons.
“I talked to Ryan (Wood) a few weeks ago and it seems like there are some solid numbers coming back,” said Sugar. “For what we graduated, it seems like there are some good freshman coming in.”
The depth of Masco’s roster is often a strength, a big difference from the smaller clubs Sugar coached at Beavers (which competes in the Eastern Independent League alongside Pingree).
“Girls hockey is different from boys in that you don’t usually have freshman or junior varsity teams,” said Sugar, who played hockey growing up in Wakefield but was injured in his first year trying out in college. “The thing I like about coaching is that balance between teaching a less experience group and coaching another. At practice, that helps you simulate game situations and get everyone involved.”
Sugar will be the Chieftain program’s fifth coach since 2010, with the total record in those season being a successful 53-43-17. The team is also chasing its first Northeastern Conference title, having finished behind Beverly in recent years.
“I’m looking forward to getting started. We’ll be in the Pingree Tournament (a preseason jamboree-type event) and that will help us get a handle on what we have,” said Sugar, who added that Maggie Bridgeo will return as assistant coach. “It looks like we’ll have three games in the first seven days, so we’ll have to be ready to go.”