Hockey: Young Northfield Mount Hermon squad picks up win

  • NMH forward Grady Friedman fires a shot for a goal past Westminster defender Benjamin Huisman in the first period Friday night at McCollum Arena in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • NMH players celebrate a first period goal by Grady Friedman (14) against Westminster on Friday night at McCollum Arena in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • NMH players Nick LeClaire (9) and Aidan Conte (15) celebrate a first period goal by Grady Friedman (14) against Westminster on Friday night at McCollum Arena in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • NMH’s Mark McClure (3) and Jack Berges (20) fight in front of the net against Westminster goalie Bennett Ostern and defenders Ned Blanchard (5) and Justin Louette-Isaac, right, in the second period Friday night at McCollum Arena in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • NMH forward Sean Heller (24) fights for possession behind the net against Westminster defenders Ned Blanchard (5) and Benjamin Huisman (3) in the second period Friday night at McCollum Arena in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • NMH forward Joseph Solimine (17) fires a shot against Westminster goalie Bennett Ostern in the first period Friday night at McCollum Arena in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • NMH celebrates its 1-0 win against Westminster on Friday night at McCollum Arena in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • NMH head coach Kevin Czepiel talks with his players on the bench during their game against Westminster on Friday night at McCollum Arena in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • NMH head coach Kevin Czepiel talks with his players on the bench during their game against Westminster on Friday night at McCollum Arena in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 12/6/2019 10:05:22 PM
Modified: 12/6/2019 11:04:37 PM

GILL — Following a loss to North Yarmouth Academy in its season opener, the young and revamped Northfield Mount Hermon boys hockey team has found its rhythm, winning two straight before coming away with a 1-0 victory over Westminster School Friday night in its home opener at McCollum Arena. 

The lone Hogger goal came with 11:31 to play in the first period, with junior forward Grady Friedman streaking up the ice with a 2-on-1, opting to take the shot himself and burying it to give NMH the early lead. 

For a team that was forced to start from scratch this offseason after losing the majority of its lineup to graduation last year, the early goal gave confidence to the Hoggers. 

“We graduated 13 guys last year,” NMH coach Kevin Czepiel said. “They were definitely our go-to guys. A lot of new guys coming in, a lot more young guys than normal. It’s going to be a process all year. It seems like they’re starting to take a step. That’s a mature team over there in Westminster. They have a lot of seniors and are well coached. It was good for our kids to play at that level.”

For an inexperienced team, it helps having a stud goalie like the Hoggers have in Connor Hasley. 

The senior, who is committed to play at Bentley University, was a wall in net on Friday, allowing few rebounds and stopping everything in front of him on the way to the shutout. 

After the Marlets pulled their goalie late, they fired away at Hasley, who continuously swatted the puck away from harm to keep the win streak in tact for NMH. 

“When you have an All-New England goalie, you hope they play like an All-New England goalie,” Czepiel said. “He’s really good and it all starts and ends with him. Especially this year where we’re so young and have a bunch of new guys, we need him to be special.” 

Hasley started in goal a season ago, but wasn’t needed often as the defensive line in front of him kept him clean for the most part. 

This year, the Hoggers will need him to be at his best every night if they want a repeat of a season ago. 

“We had a lot of horses so he didn’t get challenged as much,” Czepiel said. “He’s going to have to earn his paycheck this year.” 

NMH is coming off an impressive 2018-19 run where it finished fifth in New England, but will need its youngsters to develop quickly to have a repeat performance. 

The Hoggers have talent littered throughout its roster, but Czepiel is letting the cards fall as they do, not trying to put too much pressure on his squad in terms of expectations. 

“For us, we don’t have any expectations really,” Czepiel said. “Even last year when we finished fifth in New England, you never know. It’s such a crapshoot, especially when you’re dealing with 15-16 year old kids. This year, I don’t want to say it’s a building year, but it’s bringing new kids in and forming an identity and building for the next two to three years.” 

It’s a quick turnaround for NMH, as it takes on Milton Academy today at 2:15. On Wednesday, the Hoggers renew their rivalry with Deerfield Academy, looking to finish the game stronger than they did a season ago. 

Though the game has traditionally had a rivalry feel, Czepiel isn’t sure it’ll feel the same with so many new players playing in the game. 

“I don’t know if it’s as much as it used to be, especially with the newer guys, they don’t really know much about it,” Czepiel said. “It is always exciting when they come in. Playing at our place, we had a hard loss, 3-2, being up 2-0 in the third. Some sort of revenge but with so many new guys it’s a whole new chapter.” 


E-Edition & Local Ads


Weather


athol forecast

Most Popular


Ethics Commission announces enforcement actions against 4 Templeton Planning Boar

Police raid converted Holyoke firehouse, discover trove of guns, cars, marijuana

Social Media




Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Telephone: (413) 772-0261
FAX (413) 772-2906

 

Copyright © 2020 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.