For the second year in a row, COVID-19 has proven to be as formidable opponent for the Rockport High School boys ice hockey team as any Cape Ann League foe.
The Vikings – a co-op team that fields players from the communities of Manchester, Essex and Rockport – has worked hard to overcome COVID-related concerns that have affected both the team roster and schedule. Last winter, the team only got in six games total due to COVID cancellations, and struggled as they finished with an 0-6 record.
Things are going a little better this year (the Vikings are 2-4 so far), but that same off-ice foe has returned to cause trouble for Rockport.
“COVID has impacted us this year sporadically as opposed to last year where it hit us all at once,” explains Rockport coach Kyle Nelson. “This year, however, we have had to postpone three games because both of the goalies in our program tested positive during the same week. Some would say that goalie is the most important position in hockey. I'm hoping that with the recent surge in numbers, we are able to put the worst behind us and continue to move forward.”
Thankfully, this is a veteran team that weathered the storms of the 2021-22 season, and hopefully that experience helps during the stretch run of the regular season. Out of the 21-player roster, 17 count as juniors and seniors.
“We are absolutely upperclassmen-heavy, which is good for this season but could pose some inexperience moving forward,” says Nelson. “I believe that this experience on our roster has yet to kick in and show itself because of the inconsistency in our schedule to this point in time.”
A number of players hail from Manchester Essex Regional High School and have contributed so far this season.
“Manchester defensemen Andrew Amigo, Colby Doane, Benji DiFluri and Michael DeOreo have all brought a great work ethic and experience to our blue line,” explains Nelson. “They contribute on both sides of the ice for the Vikings. Manchester forwards Hayden Brady, Jake Moulten, Theo Parianos, Mark Pollock, Finn Lawler, TJ Brunner, Captain Dougie Pratt and Quinn Brady bring a bunch of different skills to our offense. They have all contributed at least a point this season and allow us to have the scoring depth that I mentioned earlier.”
This is a group that has good depth on the offensive end and has played some pretty good defense to this point but is looking for more scoring punch overall going forward. Also of note has been the play of Jack Crompton, a junior from ME who has spent time in goal for the Vikings this winter.
“Our strengths this year are our defensive zone structure and our scoring depth,” says Nelson. “However, we are looking for more consistent scoring from all of our lines.”
Rockport was slated to face Amesbury on January 11, followed by games against Shawsheen on January 15 and Lynn on January 17 at home.