by Roger Wistar
The coaches and captains of the boys varsity hockey team both agree that the key to this year's success on both ends of the ice will be playing together as a team.
"As a team, we take pride in competing together in a Hotchkiss jersey, and continuing a tradition based on brotherhood and success," said co-captain Luke Harrington '18. "We definitely have something to prove."
The team hopes to carry forward the momentum from the end of last season, where the Bearcats put together a seven-game unbeaten streak. Head coach Mike Traggio said that during the streak, the team really came together and started to manifest their trust in each other.
"We definitely figured out how important it is to play together," said Traggio. "Our success is contingent on all the parts doing well, not just as individuals."
One of the reason for the emphasis on teamwork is that the Bearcats have graduated some of the leading goal scorers from last year's squad. This year, the team will emphasize sharing the puck, maximizing possession and looking to translate that into a high volume of shots on net, said Harrington.
Another point of emphasis for this year's team is playing tougher, both with and without the puck. "I think kids are willing to put their body in the way, and they are finding that good things happen when you are willing to do that," said Traggio.
On defense, the key will be trusting in teammates to hold up their responsibilities so the team can play well as a unit, said Traggio. Last season, players had a tendency to overplay their positions, creating other vulnerabilities, he said.
A big part of the trust for the Bearcats is their reliance on starting goalie Henry Wilder '20, who earned high praise from both coaches and captains for his play thus far. Wilder, in his second year on the varsity, has impressed already with his leadership on the ice.
"Wilder has been phenomenal for us throughout the first couple of games and I don't expect that to change," said co-captain Mark Mahoney '18. "He works hard at his game and it is shown through his play. He gives confidence to everyone else around him."
Both Mahoney and Harrington recognized that this year's team includes many new players who will need to get adjusted to the rigors of prep school hockey, but they both expressed enthusiasm for the group. "We expect to receive a lot of meaningful contributions from everyone in our lineup," said Harrington.
Mahoney agreed. "This team makes our job easy as captains because everyone knows the bottom line is that we all want one thing, and that is to win," he said. "We are all excited to see what this team can do moving forward."