By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Hudson/Marlborough — At 0-4-2 entering the holiday break, it was time for a reversal of fortune, a signature contest that would remove the team from early-season life support, and it needed to happen quite rapidly.
Getting back to those glory days of yesteryear has not been easy for the Hudson High boys’ varsity ice hockey team, but if its 9-2 Jan. 2 trouncing of Nashoba Regional at Marlborough’s New England Sports Center is any indication, good things may indeed be on the way for this rejuvenated Hawks squad.
“I told them tonight that I was going to be very demanding and hold them accountable for their actions,” said head coach Mike Nanartowich, now in his 27th year behind the bench for Hudson. “We have to play with some desperation and emotion. We can’t take games off, shifts off and they know it. I thought they responded very well tonight.
“We’re going to go back to work tomorrow and we’ll be back on ice. I told the kids we’re not going to get too high or too low. I expect that we’ll have some energy tomorrow morning. Going forward, the schedule is tough. But that’s kind of what you like. We’ll just have to work hard and be ready.”
It would be a feeding frenzy for the Hawks right from the opening faceoff. Senior co-captain Jarod Leahy would go on to record a hat trick and an assist while tallying the contest’s first two scores. Freshman Jameson Fecteau slid a perfect set-up pass from behind the net onto Leahy’s stick that was one-timed home at the 6:03 mark of the first period. Fecteau and senior co-captain Drew Jackson would find Leahy less than three minutes later in front for the game’s second goal.
Hudson never trailed and would go on to continue its offensive explosion with goals coming from Tom Sansome (2), Peter LeMoine, Leahy, Jackson, Fecteau and JV call-up Anthony Carlman. Senior co-captain goaltender Adam Devlin turned away16 shots on the night including a first-period save that was acrobatic in nature.
“The hat trick was pretty cool but we wanted to spread the wealth throughout the nine goals,” said Leahy, eager to talk about teammate accomplishments more than his own. “We’ve been way too down on each other so far this season but this was the first time we all had fun on the bench. Everybody was up and we were all into the game. The younger kids did well and we were all cheering for them. It was good.”
“The atmosphere in the locker room has been different lately,” explained Devlin. “We came out tonight and just worked really hard from the beginning. After tonight, I feel like we’re able to trust each other a little bit more. During the game we shared the puck a lot so that builds a lot of trust in the lines. I think a lot of good chemistry was built tonight.”
Coaches and players agree that sustainability will be critical moving forward. Can the team build off its new year’s big win? Can the built-up camaraderie continue with tough matchups on the horizon in the always competitive Quinn Conference? The consensus is yes on both counts.
“If we keep our heads in the game and do what we did today, honestly, we can keep winning,” assured Jackson. “We have to work hard and hard work is the only thing that’s going to bring us to the top.
“I love this team because we all respect each other. We have a lot of really good chemistry. We graduated a lot of seniors last year but we still all know each other. It’s good to be able to teach the younger kids what we’ve learned over the years. I think there’s a great future ahead of us.”
“We have to come prepared every day and that includes practices,” said Devlin in agreement. “We have to work a little harder, demand more of each other and really show it. Everyone’s there for each other. We’re really tight-knit and supportive of each other. We have each other’s backs.”
“What I like most about this group is that they’re like a family,” said Nanartowich, who as recently as 2012 guided the Hawks to a state championship. “They’re all in it together. I’ve told them not to play for me but to play for the guy next to you and that’s what they do. They have each other’s back and feel for each other when someone gets knocked down, they’re there to pick the guy up.”
The 2016-2017 Hudson High varsity ice hockey team includes seniors Tom Fitzsimmons, Drew Jackson, Jarod Leahy, Tom Sansome, Adam Devlin; juniors Kyle Lally, Ryan McGowan, Cam O’Brien, Brad Connor, Rick Cellucci, Jared Chaves, Phillip Werner, Tim Carbral, Peter LeMoine, Aaron Cornwell, Steve Barry; sophomores Jameson Fecteau, Bryce Miranda, Jared Smith, Ryan Gonzalez along with freshmen Bailey Watts, Nick Werner, Conor Jackson, Antony Carlman and Sam Giberti.
Jackson, Leahy and Devlin are team captains. Nanartowich is assisted by Mike Nelson, Brian Hawes, Bob Cuddy, Andy Giberti, Ryan Menard and Greg Landry.