Wave, Indians hit the ice
Indians Hockey #22, Brandon Lenois goes after GHS’s #4 as the puck is moved down the ice toward the visitors goal during Saturday evening’s game at the Collins/Moylan arena.
Indians Hockey #12, Jordan Cutting , moves the puck through GHS defense with GHS #13, Duclos at right during Saturday evening’s game at the Collins/Moylan arena.
TFHS 4 Cody Booska
TFHS Cocy Booska
Let there be Fay-Wright.
The Fay Division and Wright Division, once combined, had recently been separated into two divisions. This season, realignment has brought the two back together, and all is Fay-Wright in the hockey world.
The division actually underwent somewhat of a makeover, as Agawam High School and South Hadley High School each moved up into the Berry Division, leaving the Fay-Wright with nine teams, including area clubs Greenfield High School and Turners Falls High School. The Fay-Wright also includes Amherst Regional High School, Belchertown High School and Easthampton High School from the former Fay Division, as well as Central High School, Chicopee High School, Chicopee Comprehensive High School and St. Mary High School from the former Wright Division.
With the loss of recent perennial powers Agawam and South Hadley, the league is wide open for anyone to win this season.
Here’s a look at the two local teams:
The swan song of 11th-year head coach Mike Duclos could be successful in what appears to be a wide open Fay-Wright.
Duclos has announced that he will retire after the season, a move he said is made easier by him having a dedicated staff of assistant coaches he believes will keep the program going in the right direction should they take over next season. Corey Lovett, a GHS graduate of 1999 and former hockey player, is in his sixth year as an assistant coach, while Adam Bouchard, a former Division I hockey player at Iona, is in his third season with the team. Todd “Happy” Boynton, who has been an assistant coach since Day 1 of the Duclos regime, is also headed out the door with Duclos after the season.
Duclos took over as head coach of the team in 2003-04 and helped guide a very talented Greenfield team to the inaugural Western Mass. Division IIIA championship back in 2008. He said his decision to leave after the season is due to a number of things. For one, his son Mike graduated this past spring, and he had wanted to stay on board through his son’s playing career. Also, his daughter Molley is a freshman at GHS and he would like to be able to attend her varsity basketball games. But don’t think for a minute he’s done with the sport of hockey — Duclos said it’s his passion and he plans to remain a part of the local hockey community.
“I love coaching, and I love the sport of hockey,” he said. “I will go back to refereeing hockey games and I’m thinking about helping more at the youth level. Maybe coaching a team through the ranks there. It’s not an easy decision. I look at the young guys on the team and it’s tough to leave them because they sit there and listen to you and really absorb everything you’re saying. The seniors and juniors, they’ll be fine, but it’s those young kids who are toughest to leave.”
Duclos also admitted that the numbers game can make it hard to coach the way he would like to. He said he has been blessed to have a lot of truly great kids, but that when you do need to discipline someone, it’s tough to do when you only have a handful of varsity-ready players. That’s just one effect the numbers game has had on his coaching philosophy he said, and it’s caused him to have to adapt over the years.
The good news this season is that Duclos and the Green Wave have had an influx of players, including a number from the Mahar Regional School district (which along with Smith Academy forms a cooperative with Greenfield), pushing the roster to 20. Many of the new players are street hockey players, so while they have plenty of hockey IQ, their skating ability is still lacking at the moment. Duclos said he’s happy to see the numbers increase, but that the number of players available for regular shifts at the varsity level will still be short until the new players can transition to ice hockey players.
“We are in the same boat we’ve been in the past few years,” he began. “We are a two-line team.”
He admitted that some of the new players are showing promise and that if he can find a third line to spell the offensive starters, he believes he has a strong team.
The two offensive studs coming back are senior captains Jake Elwell and Jourdan York-Welcome, who finished 1-2 in scoring last season. Elwell finished with 13 goals and 20 assists to lead the team with 33 points, while York-Welcome collected 16 goals and 13 assists for 29 points. Those two are likely to be joined up front by freshman Tyler Townsley, who saw plenty of varsity time last year as an eighth-grader and finished with two goals and four assists. Another possibility on the top line is freshman Tyler Miner, who returns to the program after leaving early last season. Freshman Alex Malinowski is another returning forward that will see plenty of time.
Another reason the team is feeling good is the return of senior goalie Barrett Rogaleski, who left the team two years ago and didn’t play last season. His return sets the Green Wave up with a pair of solid goaltenders as junior Noah Foster-Marquis returns this season.
“Noah and Barrett will be fighting it out,” Duclos said. “They are two of the best goalies in the league. We could possibly have two of the best goalies and three of the best defensemen.”
The defensemen he is referring to includes two returnees and one newcomer. Senior Cam Woodward finished with one goal and seven assists last season and is likely to be paired with senior newcomer Zach Langlois, who was at prep school last season, but is a solid-framed player with solid shot. The third experienced defenseman is sophomore Clay Richardson who finished with one goal and five assists last winter. He is likely to be paired with his brother, sophomore Jack Richardson, who is the third goalie on the team, but played out last season and informed Duclos he would be willing to do so again this winter, a move Duclos said will greatly benefit the team.
The rest of the team is newcomers. Senior Amanda King, juniors John Reindeau and Cody Shufelt, sophomores Cullen Wetherby, Tony Velez and Joe Geyster, and freshmen Zack Geyster, Graham Green and Austin Babineau will all be battling for ice time.
Greenfield qualified for the postseason last winter with a 10-10 mark but lost to South Hadley in the quarterfinals.
Turners Falls (10-9-2)
While Greenfield will be getting a new coach next season, Turners Falls High School has a newbie behind the bench this winter. But just like Greenfield plans to do next season, the Indians hired from within the program.
Nate Coffin takes over as head coach after serving as an assistant coach last season. Coffin has also been with an assistant with the Indians’ football team for four years. This marks the first time he will be the head coach at the varsity level.
“I’m excited, I’m nervous, and I’m ready to get going,” he said.
The Indians have made the postseason each of the past two years and despite losing some firepower from last year’s team, should be in the hunt for a third straight season. Coffin also believes that the young players on the team can learn from the older players and should create a winning mix.
Senior Cody Booska led the area in scoring last season with 21 goals and 23 assists and he returns to guide the top line. He will be joined up front by fellow captain and junior Tim Atkins, who finished with seven goals and 14 assists. Junior Jordan Cutting, who finished with two goals and six assists, is also a top forward on the team. Junior Zach Demars (one goal, one assist last season), senior Nick Murphy (five assists) and freshman Ryan Waldron (one goal, three assists) will form the second line, while freshman Adam Coffin is another option up front.
Senior Dan Moro is the top returning defender, while sophomore Ryan Lenois is also back this season after a strong freshman campaign. The team was dealt a major blow with the loss of sophomore Cullen Wozniak, who hurt his ankle during football season and will miss the hockey season, leaving the door open for some new players to step in and fill the void. Sophomores Eric Chaplin and Jayme Philips, and freshman Dalton DeForest are each in the running for time on the blue line.
“I think we will be a quick offensive team,” Coffin said. “And we will see who will step up on defense for us.”
The Indians should once again have one of the top goalies in the league in sophomore Brandon Bryant, who stepped in midway through season and played well, stopping 289 shots on the year.
“He’s a phenomenal goalie,” Coffin said. “He kept us in the playoff game last year. He pretty much stood on his head. I have a lot of faith that he will be able to stop a lot of shots for us.”