After strong start, boys’ ice hockey faces more challenges

The St. John’s varsity boys’ ice hockey team’s season started with a bang, with nine wins in a row before the team’s first loss. After that came a Purple Puck tournament victory, plus two league wins and a tie. The Northwood Tournament, however, ended in a string of losses, and the team’s first league game back from that was another loss. After the recent Gonzaga win, things seem to be picking up again, but the remainder of the season may still present some new challenges. 

Patrick Chapman, one of the varsity team’s captains, cited the team’s young defensive core as a key weakness. “As the only upperclassman on defense, it has largely been my duty to help out those younger guys, especially the freshmen.” 

Chapman has been playing defense for all 12 years he’s played hockey, and says the young defensive core has all have the mentality it takes to be a successful varsity defensemen, despite their youth. 

As far as strengths go, Chapman said he team is incredibly skilled offensively and it is very difficult for teams to match lines, especially with the top line. Archbishop Spalding coach Rob Trantin even described the offensive line as a “nightmare” to match with on one occasion.

Andrew DePoy, fellow varsity captain and center, seems more optimistic about the team. When asked about challenges the team has faced, he said, “There really hasn’t been a lot of challenges. We’ve been winning a lot of games and only losing a couple, but we’re always trying to improve and get better, and that’s what we’ve been doing.” 

While it seems that Chapman finds the team to be offensively oriented with a defense that could use experience, DePoy instead stressed the all-around strength of the team. “We aren’t just playing our first and second lines, we’re playing all four of our lines equally as much; that’s what’s great about our team.”

As the regular season reaches its final stretch, Chapman said, “In both the WCAC and the MAPHL, every team is a threat. Last season, four out of the top five seeds in the MAPHL playoffs came from the WCAC, so the WCAC is easily the most competitive league in the area.” 

He continued, specifically citing Bishop O’Connell, DeMatha, and Gonzaga as the other three seeds. He rounded off his comments by saying, “At this point in the season, it looks like every team in an MAPHL playoff spot has a legit shot at the title.”

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