Weaving through the defense with the puck, Assistant Captain Michael Lata ’14 beat the goalie by mere inches to cap off a comeback against Taft. The goal extended Andover Boys Hockey’s season for one more game, and every member of the team savored their first playoff victory.
The signs were clear from the beginning of the season that this team was here to play hard every minute of every game. After a 7-1 season debut victory, Andover tallied up a 7-2 victory in its second outing. .
Andover boasted a highly experienced team with Senior leadership at every position to set the tone for every line. “I’d never been on a team closer than this one; from the Seniors to the Freshmen, everyone was on the same page,” said Lata.
Andover plays in a very tough division, and forward Rob Devaney ’14 said, “The teams were at a much higher level than I had previously played against, and as a team, we came a long way. We lost to Exeter 1-7 at the beginning of the year but played them to a tie at Andover/Exeter.”
The team delivered an impressive 16-7-4 record to end the year and outscored opponents 97-71 overall during the year. “Our offense was clicking on all cylinders, we went a lot further than a lot of people thought we were going to, and even though it may have ended on a bad note, it was a great season nonetheless,” said Devaney.
When asked about on-ice improvements during the season, Assistant Captain Michael Kim ’14 said, “Our power play improved during the year, especially down the stretch.”
This improvement paid off in Andover’s playoff goals, which were scored on power play opportunities.
Head Coach Dean Boylan added in an email to _The Phillipian_, “I thought this year our group did a very good job learning from some early setbacks and applying those lessons as the season progressed.”
During the playoffs, the team showed remarkable resilience in the first round game against Taft, climbing out of a 0-2 hole to steal the game 3-2.
“Everything came together for the boys. Nobody had ever played in the playoffs before, and we were able to battle back,” said Lata.
Unfortunately, Andover’s playoff run came to an end at the hands of Loomis, as its opponents scored two quick goals in the third to steal the game.
However, for the Seniors, making the playoffs allowed each one of them to end their Andover careers on a high note. “It was special knowing this is the last time I could ever put on the Andover uniform, it was special knowing it was the last time I’d ever be in that locker room. And going to the playoffs was special, it was awesome for my career here to end that way,” said Captain David Belluche ’14.
The team will graduate 12 Seniors in June, leaving only 11 returners. With an influx of Post-Graduate students and the rising Seniors, however, the team looks to be in good shape for next year.
“Losing so many great players is always tough. It is going to be a challenge to replace them and amend the team chemistry. But after a strong season this year, I am confident that we can do it,” said Payton Jancsy ’16.