BILLERICA – It’s not often that a team wins a league title and then returns the following season with almost all of the key players from that championship team back to defend their title, but that is exactly the situation the Shawsheen Tech Boys Hockey team finds themselves in as they head into this season.
After going 9-8-5 last season, including an 8-1-1 mark in the CAC to win their second consecutive league title, the Rams will be looking for similar success this season as they return a roster that includes all but four players from last year’s squad.
Shawsheen coach Chuck Baker is hoping the Rams can enjoy similar success that they had last season, when they not only won the league, but also won a first round game in the Division 3 North Sectional Tournament over Swampscott before losing in the quarterfinals to Lynn.
Once again this year, the veteran coach is hoping his team can make a run at another league title after winning in each of the last two seasons.
“We are always happy winning the league and winning in the tournament,” Baker said. “We would love more than anything to make a solid run in the tournament. I hope this year’s team is up for the challenge.”
The Rams do lose some key players such as team captain and defenseman Beau Ramsey, along with Kevin Chase, Owen Sullivan and DJ DeRose, but with the number of players they have returning to the fold, Baker is confident his team will have another successful season
“Losing seniors can be difficult but we return a bunch and I am excited about that,” Baker said. “The team attitude is great.”
Two of the players that Baker and the Rams are most excited to have back are sophomore forward Dylan Timmons of Wilmington and senior forward Nate Silva of Tewksbury, the team’s top two leading scorers last season.
Silva led the Rams with 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points, while Timmons had 11 goals and 8 assists for 19 points. Senior captain Dan McGaffigan of Wilmington also chipped in with six goals and 17 assists on the season.
The trio played together on the same line at times last season, and while they are on separate lines at this point, Baker is looking for big things from all three of them regardless of who they are playing with.
“As of now no they are not playing together. Expectations are high for them, along with all the other kids that saw a ton of time last season,” Baker said. “Set the bar high. Make them chase it.”
Some other players the Rams will be looking for an offensive spark from include senior forward JJ Thibert of Wilmington along with junior forwards Sean Murphy of Tewksbury, Aiden Sullivan and Anthony Papa, and freshman Brady Darcey.
Defensively the Rams will be led by seniors Brady McFadden and DJ Williams of Tewksbury, along with fellow senior Chance Fitzgerald and junior Jonah Varallo.
The Rams also appear to be in good shape in net where returning starter Kam Neault of Tewksbury will see the majority of time between the pipes, while junior Jared Palmer of Tewksbury and sophomore Thomas Dalton of Wilmington will also see some time.
“Kam is working hard and it feels great not only bring one back but all three,” Baker said. “Jared is working hard and Tommy looks great.”
Some other promising newcomers for the Rams this season include senior forward Chris Melo, junior forward Connor Preble, sophomore forward Tyler Forristall, freshman forward Nick Calouro of Tewksbury, sophomore defenseman Tom Sampson and fellow sophomore defenseman Ryan Dusablan of Wilmington.
While the Rams will be the obvious favorites in the CAC, they will not be alone in their quest for the top of the standings. Baker was asked which team poses the biggest threat to the Rams reign at the top of the CAC.
“All of them,” he said with a laugh. “But obviously Northeast. There are some new coaches elsewhere so I’m sure we will see some different looks.”