While most teams rely heavily on veterans to carry the scoring load, it has been Proctor’s combination of youth, experience, and depth that has led to a 14-8-1 record to date. Three freshmen, Reilly Walsh, Peter Laviolette, and Matt Slick, earn significant minutes, while a host of sophomores including Jack Hall, Derek Tillotson, Connor Simpson, Niko Price, and Jake Pappalardo have proven to be key contributors to this year’s team on both ends of the ice.
The impact the team’s young talent has had is undeniable, but coach Mike Walsh relies heavily on his upperclassmen to set the tone for the team. Senior co-captains Mike Damien and Jordan Moore are two of those seniors who have been key to program’s success this season, along with classmates Ben Mello, Durham Ghelfi, and Connor Tedesco. Juniors Beau Collins, Hunter Luhmann, Jack McMahon, Connor Fries, Derek Britner, and Sam Shannon also bring valuable experience playing at the NEPSAC level.
Moore notes, “We have a really close group of guys this year and I think that helps build the team chemistry, and definitely helps the younger guys feel more comfortable.” Damien adds, “We have a very young team, but the older guys have really taken the time to help the younger players. We have a great balance of age on the team. A main focus for the older guys was to help the younger players with the mental side of the game, and help them mature into the hockey players and young men they are becoming.”
One of the team’s greatest strengths, aside from chemistry, is the team’s unique combination of depth and speed. Four year contributor Moore says, “We have more than three lines we can roll all game, and eventually we are able to break teams down without getting tired ourselves. Our speed with our forwards and defense helps us get the puck into the offensive zone to set up plays.” Damien echoes his co-captain's thoughts, “We have the speed to create and hold the tempo of the game, which is a huge advantage because when we are playing our game, we create havoc for opposing teams.”
Despite the group’s considerable upside, both co-captains know the road to the playoffs is a long one. The team must focus on one game at a time and put forth a strong showing in its final regular season games and Lakes Region playoffs to put themselves in a position to earn a bid to the New England tournament. Damien and Moore know that in order to achieve their goals as a team, they must sacrifice along the way. Moore notes, “During the final two weeks of the regular season we need to focus on getting the rest necessary to be able to perform to the best of our ability on game days. That means getting our school work done early so we can get some sleep. It also means that we must be ready to work at practices to prepare for each game we play." Road games at Exeter and Holderness sandwich home match ups with St. Paul’s and current Lakes Region leader Kimball Union Academy, before Proctor finishes off its regular season hosting New Hampton School on Feburary 15. Damien adds, “Our focus needs to be purely playing our game. We are a team that can do great things when we play at the high level we are capable of playing. We need to control the speed of the game and not play down to other teams' levels. With two weeks left we need to take it one game at a time and play with a sense of desperation.”
Best of luck to the boys’ hockey team and we hope to see you at the Teddy Maloney Rink supporting both the boys’ and girls’ hockey teams during the final three weeks of the winter season!