WOBURN — The last three seasons have been pretty rough for the Woburn High boys’ hockey team, but the return of some experienced and skilled players, along with the influx of young talent, could have the Tanners back in tourney contention.
“We have a good group of kids that are excited about the upcoming season,” said Woburn coach Jim Duran (235-129-54), now in his 20th year. “We are going to have some growing pains but if we salvage enough games early, we should be able to make the tournament.”
A big part of the growing pains comes from the seven freshmen who made the varsity, the largest quantity in 15 years. It worked out well then, and Duran hopes history repeats itself over the next three or four years.
The Tanner captains are senior Joey Guarino and juniors Jonathan Surrette and Lance Anderson. Guarino has made the transition from forward to defense and the switch has totally agreed with him, and he will be a top Woburn defenseman.
The junior captains will be the left wings on the top two lines, both of which could be considered the top lines on the team.
“They are all good leaders,” said Duran, of his captains. “They all three lead in their own way.”
Surrette is the best returning player, however, and the Tanners are looking for great things out of him in his third year. Junior Michael Santullo will center the first line, and freshman Jackson Powers will start on right wing. His father played for Boston College and Duran hopes the Eagle hockey pedigree carries down to his son.
Joining Anderson, another third-year player, on the second line are center Aiden Robinson and right wing Brett Stone. Robinson is yet another third-year standout, and Stone is another talented freshman.
The third line will feature returning players JJ Librizzo and Colin Savill on the wings, and sophomore newcomer Alex Fishlin at center. The fourth line will have a four-player rotation over the course of the game. Derek Santullo is the center while the wings include second generation Tanner Ryan Scallese, Jake McComiskey and Joey Darrigo.
The defensive pairings are not yet etched in stone but Woburn has a good group of six players who are ready to get the job done. Sophomore Mikey Arsenault got a lot of experience as a freshman and is ready to be a leader on defense, along with Guarino.
Shea Clark is a returning junior, while the newcomers include Larry Parece - son of the Tanner assistant by the same name – Nick Leuzzi and Connor Welch are ready to step in and make an immediate impact.
“We have hockey players this year, as opposed to athletes playing hockey who had other sports as their number one,” said Duran. “We are a young team with great leadership.”
Woburn is also set in goal with returning senior Kevin Burkett, who transferred to Woburn High his junior year and took over the starting job down the stretch of last season.
Duran is looking for a big season from Burkett, but also hopes to have opportunities to get experience for backups Ryan Moriarty and Dylan Lowe, the top candidates to take over, next year.
The first couple of weeks will provide the litmus test for the young Tanners, who figure to have their problems against teams with older lineups. The Woburn freshmen are not big, but they are smart hockey players who Duran thinks will be alright at this level.
“There is a lot of parity in the league, with maybe Arlington a little ahead of everyone else,” said Duran. “We need power plays because we have some skilled players who can take advantage of those opportunities."