Boys Varsity Hockey Beats the Odds

With a record of 11-11-2, the Boys Varsity Hockey team enjoyed a seven-game improvement over last year’s season and was seconds away from an even more drastic turnaround. However, the team failed to make the playoffs after four overtime (OT) losses in the last five games. But it did prove itself capable of competing with some of the best teams in New England and it not only improved its record, but also modeled excellence with a positive attitude and intense work ethic in the face of long odds.

The Boys Varsity Hockey team exceeded expectations by beating The Gunnery and the Salisbury School, last year’s seventh- and first-ranked teams, respectively. With a record of 4-12-5 and eight seniors missing from the previous season, the team was overlooked early on in the 2019 season. It entered the season unranked, but by week four, rose to the number one spot in New England, according to Prep Hockey site Neutral Zone. At one point in the season it was in line to land a spot in the Elite Eight, the tournament that crowns the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) hockey champion.

Even with its frustrating finish, the team fared far better than initial predictions. Jeremy Abraham ’20 said, “At the beginning of the year, people laughed when I said that we were going to have a good team. I had confidence in the group and team chemistry that we had together, but people doubted us. At the end of the season, we had almost three times as many wins as [we did] last year.”

Head Coach Michael Traggio attributes the team’s success to the combination of the players’ work ethic and the skill of the school’s coaching staff. Due to this increased effort and trust in each other, players were able to play at their highest level this season. Defenseman Jack Ferguson ’20 said, “[It was] an amalgamation of people buying in, people supporting each other, stronger optimism going into games, and becoming more goal-oriented.”

Instead of listening to predictions and continuing last season’s narrative, the team used its status as the underdog as an advantage.  Coach Traggio said, “There weren’t any high expectations for the team, and as a result, they were able to play freely and loose, which brought about wins.”

The team’s 7-1 win against Salisbury at the outset of the season and a tight 4-3 overtime loss at its finish were a microcosm of the team’s overall season. The team burst onto the New England prep hockey scene early in the season, securing major upsets, but lost multiple nail-biters at the end of the season that dashed the team’s playoff hopes.

The team will look to build on this year’s success in the future, with 14 of the 22 players eligible to return next year.