A die-hard attitude. Love for the game. Commitment.
Dover-Sherborn/Hopkinton girls’ hockey coach Nick Grout says these qualities have kept the program alive, and for him, they resonate with his three junior captains, Sarah Jane Graham and identical twins Sophie and Talia Grossbaum.
With low numbers, the program was in danger of folding at the beginning of the season, until neighboring Hopkinton merged to form a co-op. Still, Grout only saw 13 names on the varsity roster.
The number of players means the co-op plays with only two forward lines and three defensemen, and that is only when the squad is healthy, of which Grout has not had the luxury.
“Of my 12 skaters, I’ve only had a full bench for four of our 15 games,” he said.
With the exception of the line with the Grossbaum sisters and Graham, Grout was also training first-year players.
“It’s challenging, but you do what you have to do,” said Talia Grossbaum. “Mentally [it’s tough], especially because we know it’s a challenge being a beginner team, but we make sure to have a good attitude and stay in the game.”
When it came to rising to the occasion, the captains have exceeded expectations. The Grossbaums have shined, placing fifth and 15th in the state scoring leaders.
“They’re just grinding it out and battling for the rebound and not quitting,” said Grout. “These two [Sophie and Talia] have been on the ice for nearly every penalty kill and power play, as well as extended shifts. I would say they easily play over two-thirds of a game, and still have the energy to put up some great points. They get 30 to 40 seconds of rest and they’re ready to go push themselves that hard.”
The Grossbaums log 30 to 45 minutes per game, according to Grout, and have scored 34 of the team’s 45 goals.
“They’re 5 foot 1 inch and they play like their 6 foot 3 inches and 225 pounds. They try and fight their way through everything,” said Grout, a third-year coach.
For his budding 2-14 team, it has been about the basics.
“It would be easy for [Sophie and Talia] to become frustrated when we give up a quick goal, but they go out and try to get one back. It speaks volumes to who they are as people,” said Grout. “These two have been the force behind the team and I don’t know how they do it.”
The line’s center, Graham (5-13—18), is a critical part and the vocal leader of the team, according to Grout.
“My three captains have played as a line consistently for three years, it’s kind of magical,” he said. “They don’t quit fighting until the last whistle.”
Although some of Grout’s players from last year’s team transferred to private schools, the Grossbaums said they’ve never thought about leaving.
“We like it here, we have a really good relationship with our coach and other players, and we wouldn’t want to be on any other team,” said Talia. “Winning isn’t necessary; it doesn’t drive us to private school.”
“We really want to keep this team going, to keep our heads up, and to keep positive,” said Sophie. “It’s been really important to keep the program running and we’ve talked to middle schoolers to get them interested. This has motived us to keep our heads up. It wouldn’t pay off if we gave up.”
When asked about playing with her twin, Talia said, “It’s really fun. We have a net in our basement and work together on and off the ice. It’s never been a challenge and we don’t’ really get competitive, we motivate each other.”
For Grout, who is coaching his first set of twins, “I couldn’t tell them apart [at first] because they played a similar style, and as they’ve gotten older I’m still dealing with, ‘Which one of you just scored?’ ”
. . .
The chart in Thursday’s Globe that accompanied Brittani Lanzilli’s milestone of 300 career points was missing one player. Kate Leary, who played with Alex Carpenter at Governor’s Academy, finished her career with 163 goals and 177 assists for 340 points. Leary is currently a junior forward at Boston College . . . Cohasset/Hanover (8-2-3) broke new ground Friday by qualifying for the state tournament for the first time in the program’s three-year history with a 2-0 win over Quincy/North Quincy. Valerie Farren scored the game-winner in the first period and Kaitlin McGovern sealed the victory with a goal in the second period. Shea Kearney posted the shutout.
Games of the week
No. 10 St. Mary’s at No. 8 Woburn, Mon., 6 p.m. — The rivalry resumes with the first meeting this season of two of the state’s best. St. Mary’s (8-4-3) has had the edge recently in series, going 3-1-2 in the last six. The Tanners (10-3-1) last beat St. Mary’s Dec. 17, 2011, 5-0, at O’Brien Rink.Continued...