READING — With a solid group of veteran players returning, the Reading High boys hockey team should be competitive, in what is shaping up to be a tough Middlesex League Liberty Division.
Despite losing 10 seniors, including one transfer, from last year’s team that went 12-7-4 losing in the first round of the MIAA Division 1 North tournament to Bishop Fenwick 2-0, Reading returns a group that promises to excite.
“We are going to be a little young out front,” said 11th-year coach Mark Doherty (127-73-39). “But our defense and goaltending should be what we want to build around this season.”
Doherty will rely on his trio of captains Matt Fiorenza, Sean Barbera and Dylan Emery to lead the team and play key roles this season.
The defense will be one of Reading’s strongest assets this season. The blue line will be anchored by a trio of experienced seniors in Fiorenza, Cam Lawhorne and Brandon Millerick all coming off outstanding junior campaigns. Also returning on defense for the Rockets is junior Charlie Miele who will look to contribute once back from a knee injury.
Offensively, Doherty will look to four seniors to help propel the way for all the younger kids new to the team this season.
The offense will be led by Barbera (12-8-20), a third-year varsity veteran who has been a first-line player during his time at RMHS.
Other scoring punch should also come from senior Kevin Donaghey (3-7-10) and senior Shawn Golden (4-4-8), the son of all-time Rocket great Mike Golden.
Jared Pennucci, who played JV last year, should also help with the scoring.
Another returning to the offense from last year’s team is junior Landyn Greatorex who scored five goals as a sophomore a year ago.
Reading graduated its two top scorers from last season in Mike Tobin and Brendan Donovan while Matt Gallagher, who would have been a senior this year, transferred to Winchendon.
Doherty know the newcomers have got some big shoes to fill, but is confident in what he seeing so far.
“These young kids have to build experience,” said Doherty. “They have some big shoes to fill and they are working hard every day in practice.”
Reading is going to have a group of newcomers to the varsity squad this season all hoping to make an impact early both offensively and defensively.
“Our JV program is providing us with a reload of kids that we will get to watch develop all season long,” said Doherty.
As for the goaltending, Reading returns both goalies from last season. Starting in goal this season will be senior captain Emery, who is coming off an outstanding junior season, where he had a 1.76 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
Also returning is senior Brendan Hannabury, who although didn’t start many games played well in all his appearances last season for the Rockets.
Doherty expects both of them to see playing time this season and in the early going especially in the first two scrimmages, he is liking what he is seeing so far.
The Rockets will play their usual tough non-league this season against Bishop Hendricken (Jan. 13), St. John’s Prep (Jan. 20) and Hingham (Jan. 29) in addition to their always tough Middlesex League schedule.
Reading will also be going back to the Buddy Ferreira Classic in Falmouth during February School vacation where it will play three games to wrap up the regular season.