The Student News Site of Boston Latin School

The Argo

The Student News Site of Boston Latin School

The Argo

The Student News Site of Boston Latin School

The Argo

Boys’ Hockey: The Road to Becoming State Champions

BLS boys’ hockey team celebrates their state championship. (Source: Alex Le (III))

This year, the BLS boys’ hockey team far exceeded anyone’s expectations. While they got off to a rocky start during their first ten games with a 5-5 record, they rose to the challenge in the latter half of the season. They ended the year red-hot, winning eight of their last ten games.

Senior captain Matt Carrara (I) recalls one of the boys’ lowest moments in the season as the team’s second game against North Andover, the 11th game of the season. “We were winning 2-1 with three minutes left in the game and we ended up losing 3-2,” he describes. In that game, Odhran Mullan (II), a top line forward, also suffered a devastating knee injury, and remained out for the rest of the season. Carrara and the team “knew that [they] could be a better team than what [they] had displayed up to that point in the season, [so they] worked hard to improve little by little every day in practice and it was only up from there.”

The team came together at just the right time to prepare them for the tournament ahead. According to Head Coach Frank Woods, the team was extremely young this year with ten new varsity players, and the rookies needed time to get settled in. By February however, the team saw “tremendous leadership from veteran players” as well as “more consistent performances and production from some of our new players,” which helped the team become the cohesive unit they proved to be in the state tournament. Starting goalie Oliver Murphy (III) notes the team’s overtime win against Concord-Carlisle as a major turning point. Concord-Carlisle was ranked third in their division this year, and after winning this game, the boys won ten out of their next 11 games, giving them the confidence they needed entering the postseason.

Another key factor in this year’s success was their offensive production. The number of goals the team scored each game this year allowed them to contest better ranked teams. They also had more goaltending depth, something that was lacking in previous years. Most importantly, however, was that “this particular group was just tough to play against and would battle hard until the final whistle.” There was nothing more important than the “resiliency, mental toughness and determination to win that this team had,” says Coach Woods.

While Murphy notes that they are “not the most skilled team, [they] work hard every single day and that’s why [they] win games.”

Some, such as Boston Herald writer Tom Mulhern, are calling this year’s team a “Cinderella Wolfpack,” but their season was not without its challenges. Murphy saw many of his teammates come and go due to injuries. Some came back for the playoffs, while one was out for the last nine games of the regular season and the entirety of the postseason. He adds that although it “didn’t go smoothly at first, Coach Frank Woods did a great job incorporating players into the lineup.”

Coach Woods approaches every year with the mindset that it will be a competitive season, and this year was no different. The program expectation is that the boys make it to the tournament every year, and in his past 25 years coaching, they have only missed the tournament a handful of times.

From the beginning of the season, Carrara knew that “a lot of younger guys on the team […] would have huge roles. It was nice to see all the rookies work hard everyday at practice to get better.” Each and every new player played a crucial role in the team’s success this season, and they were “playing [their] best hockey going into the playoffs which worked in [their] favor.”

The challenges they faced during playoffs led up to the Wolfpack’s decisive 4-2 championship victory. Their second-round game against Billerica Memorial High School went into overtime, creating a heartstopping thriller for players and fans alike. When the playoff pairings came out, the coaches thought they would be able to make a deep run and maybe even win it all. This overtime win against Billerica only cemented the belief that they could take home the trophy.

Of course, no season would be complete without the season-ending game, and nothing could be better than the one Latin pulled off. Down 2-0 to Tewksbury, who was ranked first in their division, the boys knew they had to step it up to come out with the win. “Ryan McHugh got […] a huge goal to cut Tewksbury’s lead in half, which gave [the team] a ton of momentum. Going into the third period down a goal, we were confident that we could come back and win,” reflects Carrara.

The team did not disappoint. The boys erupted with three goals in the last five minutes of play, earning their victory. Carrara scored the last goal of the night, taking “advantage of [the team’s] momentum at the end of the game [to] extend the lead.”

Murphy had eyes on the whole ice from his spot in the crease. When the final buzzer sounded, he recalls, “I knew it was over, there was nothing more to do, the journey was over. It was an overwhelming feeling of happiness, built up through weeks upon weeks of work. There is no feeling like it.”

The season only ended a few weeks ago, but Coach Woods is already looking to the future. The younger players that were such a crucial part of this year’s success “will be given the opportunity to step into more prominent roles on the ice, in addition to leadership roles.” We are excited to see the younger players continue the Wolfpack’s success next year as the team’s five seniors bid farewell.

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