After two weeks of tryouts and scrimmages, the high school winter sports teams kick off their seasons this week.
Both hockey teams scrimmaged throughout the weekend, with the girls squad traveling to Sandwich before hosting Needham and the boys taking on Hamden, Conn., and North Quincy at home.
“We got better from the first to the second [game],” boys’ head coach Matt Mincone said. He said the team also showed progress during Monday’s scrimmage against Plymouth South, particularly on the defensive end.
The team lost eight seniors last year, but Coach Mincone has no concerns about a potential experience void.
“Those guys left a stamp for the new players to pick up,” he said. And the returning players are “pretty established.”
The four seniors who return are captains Tyson Araujo and Brian Fraser, Sam Burke, and Andrew Carroll. All are four-year starters. Araujo, Fraser and Burke have played together for years and make up the team’s first line, which is “looking very strong right now,” Coach Mincone said. Carroll, currently out with an injury from football season, is expected to return to defense sometime in the next two weeks.
“We really haven’t seen him yet, which can only make us better,” Coach Mincone said.
Junior assistant captain Alex Vukota and fellow junior Matt Davies will also be key on defense, he said. As with last year, the overall ice strategy is to play a lockdown defensive game, possessing the puck and protecting the net. Sophomore goalie Wyatt Jenkinson returns to the goal, along with junior goalie Noah Kleinhenz, who did not play last season.
The team also added five freshmen this year, after a particularly strong showing during tryouts.
In addition to the regular Eastern Athletic Conference schedule, the team will also take on two challenging division one schools: Bridgewater-Raynham (Coach Mincone’s alma mater) and Framingham. They travel to the University of New Hampshire over the holiday break for a three-day tournament.
“The schedule looks good; it ought to be a good, challenging thing,” Coach Mincone said.
The puck drops for the boys’ first home game this Saturday at 6 p.m. against Lowell Catholic.
The girls’ squad enters the season intending to build on the success of the past two years and qualify for postseason play for the third season in a row.
Twelve players return to the team, with seven newcomers stepping into varsity skates. The team is captained by senior forwards Emily Hammett and Callie Jackson. Seniors Alex Clark and Haven Huck also return to the front lines, along with junior Aubrey Ashmun, who led the team in scoring last year.
The team took part in the annual Cape and Islands Jamboree last weekend, skating against Sandwich and Bourne. The jamboree is a spotlight event for girls’ hockey and featured seven teams. The Vineyarders also took up a team collection to donate to the Children’s Cove Advocacy Center.
“It was nice to be a part of that,” head coach John Fiorito said.
The jamboree also provided an answer to one of the team’s preseason questions. Both goaltenders from last year’s team graduated, but Coach Fiorito said new goalies Jackie Hegarty and Julia Bettencourt were up to the challenge.
“We were a little nervous going in because they’re brand new, and they held their own,” he said. “That was the most impressive part of the whole weekend, so that bodes well for the whole season.”
Freshman defender Kylie Hatt, one of five 9th graders on the squad, is also expected to be an “impact new player,” Coach Fiorito said. Returning junior Olivia Ogden is joined by Meg Burke, Ellie Hanjian and Katrina Lakis on defense.
The girls begin their season on the road, and will play their first home game on Jan. 4 against Dennis-Yarmouth.
A preview of the basketball teams and swim team will appear in a later article.