The Barnstable Red Raiders are not the most talked-about boys’ hockey team, playing in the three-team Old Colony League. This season, however, they are gaining attention.
Barnstable is 5-1-2, and coach Scott Nickerson believes his players have earned their success.
“We started out with a good core of forwards coming back and we’ve been getting a lot more out of captain Max Willman, who has 16 goals for us this season. It certainly helps when you have someone scoring like that,” said Nickerson.
The forwards, led by Willman, have been huge contributors, combining for 34 goals in eight games.
“His line is doing most of our scoring and the other two lines are working really hard. They all understand what we’re trying to do,” Nickerson said.
This understanding came in handy during the Cape Cod Freezeout Tournament in December. Barnstable took on mighty Springfield Cathedral, battling to a 1-1 tie. Just one day later in the consolation game, the Red Raiders scored a 5-3 win over Braintree, which is now 6-3-1.
“Our league isn’t real big, so we went outside the league and wanted to see what our potential was. We played very well in that tournament,” Nickerson said.
“Any time you can beat a team in the Bay State League, it’s a big thing.”
Since the Cape Cod Freezeout, the Red Raiders have gone 2-1, shutting out both Milton and Dartmouth over a three-day span.
“Against Milton, we always expect them to play well. Our goaltender is very athletic. He’s not the most skilled but he has a will to keep the puck out of the net; kind of like Tim Thomas,” Nickerson said.
Nickerson was unsure of his defense heading into the season, but “they have really developed. They’re big, strong and they are playing within themselves,” he said.
The defense, however, was not able to keep Archbishop Williams at bay Jan. 9, the Bishops handing Barnstable its first loss, 5-4.
“We gave up a couple power-play goals and before we knew it, we were down 4-1 at the end of the first period,” said Nickerson. “I wasn’t expecting to go 20-0 and things just didn’t work out that night.”
Barnstable will have had a week between games when it takes the ice against Bridgewater-Raynham.
Nickerson acknowledged rest could be a good thing for his team.
“We needed a little break so we could work on some things,” he said. “We’ve got to tighten up on penalty kills and be more effective on the power play.”
St. John’s Prep took on Malden Catholic, BC High, and Catholic Memorial in a seven-day span last week, three of the top 10 teams in the state. The Prep went 2-1, losing to BC High.
Coach Kristian Hanson’s team handed the Lancers their first loss to an in-state opponent in more than a year. After looking sluggish in a 2-0 road loss to BC High, the Prep dominated CM in another road game to improve to 6-2-0.
“We set the goal that we wanted to go 3-0 but we consider two out of three to be successful,” Hanson said after the victory over Catholic Memorial.
“We were very aware of the importance of this game. It was a huge turnaround from [our play against] BC High.”
Games of the week
Wilmington at Malden Catholic, Monday (at Valley Forum II, 7:10 p.m.) — With a win over MC, the Wildcats can start talking Super 8.
Burlington at Arlington, Wednesday (6 p.m.) — It’s crowded at the top of the Middlesex League and this one involves two schools with big postseason hopes.
Catholic Memorial at BC High, Wednesday (7 p.m.) — The first meeting of the season is always an occasion. And with both teams coming off a tough loss, this one should be intense.
St. John’s Prep at Austin Prep, Saturday (at Stoneham Arena, 8 p.m.) — The unbeaten Cougars face one of the top teams in Catholic Conference. A Super 8 preview?