Propelled by Student Support, Boys Hockey Earns Two Important Wins over Nobles and Winchendon

With an early goal from Will Winemaster ’23, Boys Hockey started quickly against Noble & Greenough this Saturday, eventually winning 4-2, and then followed this victory up with a 5-2 win over Winchendon. The team’s record now stands at 10-6.

According to Michael Bagnoli ’22, the game against Nobles was the first game in which the team did not worry about its opponents, but rather, focused on playing well.

“It sounds simple, the forwards scored goals, and [the] defense prevented goals, and the goalie played really well. I also think we didn’t think too much about it. In the past, we’ve kind of built some teams up in our head that [have] a better record [than us], or have beaten some good teams. And for [Nobles], we [played] our game as opposed to… playing reactionary early on. I think that definitely helped us be successful on Saturday,” Bagnoli said. 

According to Rory Booth ’23, entering the game against Nobles having lost its last three games, the team wanted to prove to themselves that they could compete and win against top-level opposition. Booth noted that Andover knew that this was a pivotal game towards any playoff hopes.

“Prior to that game, we had lost three straight games and we had lost to good teams. Teams that we would be playing against or fighting for a spot in playoffs against. [The] game [against Nobles]… was [us] proving to ourselves that we could be a playoff team. And so I think everybody kind of went into it with that kind of mindset, like ‘we need to win this game if we’re gonna make the playoffs,’” said Booth.

According to Bagnoli, support from the spectators created a really positive and exciting atmosphere and made the team even more excited for the game.

“I think Saturday was the first game we had fans up since winter break, and that definitely made a difference because, for example, on Wednesday, we lost a pretty tough game to St. Sebastian’s at home and there were no fans there. But then on Saturday against Nobles, we had a ton of student support, which really fires up the boys and gets them going [because] obviously it’s more fun to play in front of a crowd,” Bagnoli said. 

Bagnoli added that going into the Winchendon game, the team had been focusing a lot on its presence in front of the net. More specifically, creating more scoring opportunities for the team in the offensive third of the rink was emphasized and worked on during practices.

“We’ve been doing a lot of net-front presence [drills] where someone is shooting the puck in the net, and then, someone is trying to screen the goalie and maybe tip the puck or get the rebound. In some games, we found that we haven’t been scoring as many of those goals as we should, and if we can kind of take advantage of that opportunity of having a man in front of the net or a couple of people in front of the net, we’ll definitely get a lot more goals that way,” said Bagnoli.

Head Coach Paul Tortorella noted that the team started slow against Winchendon, but stayed focused and scored five straight goals. He added how important it is for the team to maintain possession to take command of the game.

“The team kept their composure. We were down 2-0 early in the game and in prep hockey that can feel like a lot. But hard work by our Nolan Roche, Pat Last, and Joey Zheng line got us rolling and we scored five straight goals. There was some chippy play and what looked like a lot of missed penalty calls but the boys stayed focused on playing. We are always working on our communication on the ice and puck management. Really those are the two biggest concepts in the sport; everything flows from that. You want to control the puck more than the other team, way more,” Coach Tortorella wrote in an email to The Phillipian

Boys Hockey plays at home this Friday against Choate.