WA Boys’ Hockey returns after missing last season


Steve Kapatanakis

WA Boys’ Hockey team celebrates their win against Waltham.

Jack Zwirn, Staff Writer

Westford Academy Boys’ Hockey will return to the ice this winter after missing their 2020-2021 season due to COVID-19 cancellations.

The last Dual County League (DCL) season played by WA was in 2019-2020, in which WA held an average record of 12 wins, 9 losses, and 2 ties. The team will have to be built almost from the ground up as the majority of players in the 2019-2020 season were juniors or seniors at the time. Those players have now graduated, which leaves the boys’ team with only two veterans, senior Ryan McCarthy and junior John Doherty.

“This season is going to be different because we only have two returning varsity players so everyone will be new,” McCarthy said. “Also, having to try and learn all of the coach’s plays for the new guys might take some time, so that will be difficult.”

Coach Bob Carpenter, who will be coaching his twenty-seventh year of hockey at WA this year, is optimistic about this upcoming season.

“We do feel as if we have the caliber of players to handle the system for sure, but they have to get that experience of playing [high school hockey],” Carpenter said.

The primary concern for this season, according to Carpenter, is the lack of experience. He mentioned that once the newer players get used to playing at the varsity level, the team will drastically improve overall and should be able to meet their goal of reaching the DCL playoffs in February.

“We need to get the team chemistry up to allow for a skilled team,” McCarthy said. “Losing last year was hard so I think it is big we try to gain [the time and team chemistry] back.”

Coming together as a team, no matter the sport, is very difficult. It becomes even more challenging when a team not only loses a full season of play, but also loses the vast majority of their players. This will force the team to rebuild and regroup around McCarthy and Doherty.

“We have some very good players coming up, but we just don’t have those players with experience playing at the varsity level,” […] Carpenter said. “We certainly have some players that would have played for us last year and gained that varsity experience, but obviously, that didn’t happen.”

It was a disappointment to the entirety of the team when the season was canceled last winter. It was also the final opportunity for the class of 2021 to play hockey at the high school level.

“We look forward to playing every year, but it was a very difficult situation. As much as we were disappointed, we certainly understood what was at stake. […] It was a very tough decision that people had to make,” Carpenter said.

Throughout the off-season, there have been workouts for the players interested in trying out for the varsity team. These workouts have allowed the players to get to know each other better, and have been good for Coach Carpenter to see what these athletes are capable of.

“I’m very impressed with them as players and as people. We’re very, very excited to get going,” Carpenter said.