By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Hudson – In his 26 years behind the bench as head coach for the Hudson High School varsity ice hockey team, Mike Nanartowich has seen more than his fair share of ups and downs while guiding his Hawk skaters into very tough Quinn Conference competition.
They won a state championship in 2012, but more recently there has been a string of under-.500 seasons that have seen players and coaches grasping for answers on how to return to the lofty level of just four seasons ago. It hasn’t been easy but it now has come to fruition as the Hawks are back with a successful 2015-2016 campaign.
In its matchup with Concord-Carlisle Feb. 10 at Marlborough’s New England Sports Center, Hudson came away with a convincing 5-1 victory that raised the team’s record to 10-5-1 and cemented a berth in this year’s district tournament, a goal that has been fleeting for four years.
“When we came out of the state championship we graduated a ton of talent, a lot of great kids,” said Nanartowich, who is assisted by Sean Cassidy, Mike Nelson, Brian Hawes, Brian Fahey, Bob Cuddy and Greg Landry. “These kids, our seniors now, missed out on the opportunity to play then but I’m really happy for them now that they’re finally going to get the excitement of the whole thing.”
“We’ve finally gotten the experience of getting some wins,” added senior co-captain Adam Cariveau, who like his fellow seniors has been here for the tough years and is now enjoying the team’s resurgence. “We lost a lot of close games last year but we’re finding ways to finish games this year. We’ve had a few good comebacks. We’ve been playing together pretty much all summer and fall so we’ve developed some good chemistry.”
“We’ve played the past three years without making it [to the playoffs] so this feels really good,” affirmed senior co-captain Rocco Malloy. “We finally got the last points … we needed to qualify and everyone feels good.”
Both Malloy and Cariveau are leading scorers in the Quinn Conference with 29 and 27 points, respectively.
In its victory over visiting Concord-Carlisle, Drew Jackson scored a pair of goals as did Cariveau, both on the power play, while Jared Leahy tallied early in the second period. Assists on the night were credited to Leahy and Luc Bernier with two apiece and one each to Cariveau and Malloy. Goaltender Adam Devlin recorded 11 saves on the night.
“Adam’s really carried the load. He’s been absolutely outstanding for us,” said Nanartowich of his mainstay goaltender, who is third best in Quinn with a goals-against-average of 2.61 and save percentage of 0.887. “His work ethic in practice has been great. We should give him some time off in practice now and then but he doesn’t want it. He wants to work and stay sharp. That’s his work ethic and his leadership on the ice.”
The prescription for success is not always an easy one as Nanartowich has come to know over the years. Flexibility and change midstream is often necessary as it has been for this year’s team.
“Halfway during the season we struggled some and we tore it all up and made all kinds of switches,” he said. “We talk about trusting everyone in the room, trusting the guys you play with because you can’t do it alone. Those are the types of things we try to teach but really this year has been great. We’re constantly stressing important things like getting to the net, create traffic, shots down and communicate. That’s all come from hard work and practicing and I’m really happy for them.”
“We need to work a lot on improvements in everything before the playoffs like getting pucks in deep, sticking to our systems and doing what we’re told because when we get away from it, that’s when we seem to not have success,” Malloy explained of his team’s needs moving forward. “So we have to stick with what we do and play the way we know how to play.”
Members of the 2015-2016 Hudson High varsity ice hockey team are seniors Bryce Hawes, Derek Hire, Luc Bernier, Adryon Miranda, Matt Faria, Rob Cuddy, Rocco Malloy, Adam Cariveau and James Trainor along with juniors Tom Fitzsimmons, Drew Jackson, Jarod Leahy and Adam Devlin.
Underclassmen include sophomores Kyle Lally, Ryan McGowan, Brad Connor, Richard Cellucci and Phillip Werner along with freshmen Jameson Fecteau, Bryce Miranda, Cam O’Brien and Ryan Gonzalez.