The Needham high school boys hockey program turned a page last season. After not qualifying for the MIAA tournament for the past five seasons, the Rockets made some noise in last year’s postseason.
The Needham high school boys hockey program turned a page last season.
After not qualifying for the MIAA tournament for the past five seasons, the Rockets made some noise in last year’s postseason.
Needham strung together two wins in the Div. 1 south field against Milton in the first round (4-0) and Catholic Memorial in the quarterfinals (2-1).
The Rockets fell to eventual sectional champion Marshfield 3-1 in the south semifinals, finishing with an overall record of 12-8-3.
According to Needham coach Mike Hoban, this season they’re going to try and build off of that success.
“It was the first year in quite some time we made the tournament,” said Needham coach Mike Hoban. “This season, we’re trying to stay on the same consistent level and get back to postseason play.”
This will be Hoban’s fourth season at the helm, and sixth season with the program. According to Hoban, they have a deep team this season, especially with the seniors to embrace leadership roles.
“A lot of kids play a lot of different sports and everyone is kind of doing their own thing in the offseason,” said Hoban. “It was great to see a lot of kids play fall hockey to prepare for what’s ahead.”
The Rockets will be anchored by their three senior captains, Tom Chmielewski, Sam Rutter and Trent Kamke.
Chmielewski, who’s a forward, will be looked upon for his leadership along with his offensive input; the senior finished last season with seven goals and 13 assists. Rutter will also be a key component to the team's offensive scheme; he finished with 10 goals and nine assists a year ago.
“Tom has been a player who’s been on this team since his freshman year; he knows the deal,” said Hoban. “He’s a leader; the team expects a lot from him.”
Kamke will be counted on to anchor the defense: the Rockets only allowed 1.84 goals per game last season and will have a new situation in net this year.
Senior Will Popper will be a top candidate to lead the Rockets in goal this season, while newcomer freshman goaltender Oliver Lamadieu has made a big impression in the first coming weeks of tryouts and practice.
Needham will have their hands full in a very strong Bay State Conference like every year, facing top teams such as Braintree, Walpole, Natick and Wellesley.
The Rockets have a tough non-league schedule as well; they’ll play a couple of top-tier Catholic Conference opponents such as Xaverian, Catholic Memorial and St. John’s Prep. According to Hoban, the tough schedule is a good way to prepare for hopefully another deep tournament run.
“Our strong conference play prepares us for these non-league matchups with big Catholic Conference non-league showdowns, along with the tournament,” said Hoban. “This season we can’t settle against teams that we usually don’t have much success against; we have a new culture here and can beat anyone we step on the ice against.”
According to Hoban, leadership will be a key component toward how they perform this season considering they have a deep senior class in terms of numbers.
“We’re pretty heavy with seniors this season,” said Hoban. “Leadership is huge for these guys. The kids know what to expect, they’ve had a lot of taste of success.”
The Rockets will open up the regular season on the road against Acton-Boxboro at Nashoba Valley Olympia Rink in Boxboro starting at 6:50 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.
“Every year you want to go as far as you can, especially for the seniors,” said Hoban. “It’d be great for them to leave an everlasting impression this season, I hope we can find a lot of success this season.”
Adam Nazzaro can be reached at 781-433-8338 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @anazz93.