Despite not winning any of their 20 games last winter, the Old Rochester Regional/Fairhaven boys hockey team was in many of those contests only to fall on the wrong side of the fine line between winning and losing with an inexperienced decision or an untimely penalty. Conventional wisdom says the growing pains of 2019-20 should make ORR/Fairhaven a tougher out in 2020-21, but second-year coach Zach Ledogar thinks the Bulldogs are better than that.
“We’re a faster team this year. A lot of the kids have been training…. It’s a completely different team this year. With me coming in knowing the kids a little bit better, that’s the best part,” said Ledogar before Tuesday afternoon’s practice at John Gallo Arena in Bourne.
The coronavirus pandemic has canceled out Tabor Academy as home ice for the 2020-21 season, and with Gallo as their temporary hub, the Bulldogs will ironically be the home team for their January 6 season opener against Bourne.
“The kids and parents have raised over $11,000,” said Ledogar. The boys and girls hockey teams were the subject of praise during a recent school committee meeting.
Ledogar is already confident he has the answer to one very important question: Who will start in goal? Jake DeMoranville, one of three key 2020 graduates, along with Rob Ramsay and Aiden Tremblay, was a workhorse in the ORR net. Replacing the stalwart goaltender will be no easy chore, but junior Thomas Galvotti has approached the opportunity like it’s the most challenging thing he’ll ever do.
“I run a conditioning gym in the offseason, and he’s been one of my most avid goers. He’s been there for the last eight months, five days a week. He’s been at nighttime skates and Friday with the [Bishop] Stang guys, so he’s been seeing shots like in the last year. I know a lot of kids haven’t had the opportunity to do as much,” said Ledogar, who considers Galvotti’s offseason efforts among the top three on the team.
Senior captains Brady Becotte and Ben Austin will anchor the defense and offense, respectively.
“I had 16 or 17 freshmen on my team last year. A lot of these kids have never been in a situation where they’re playing this level of hockey,” said Ledogar of the discipline factor. “Leadership this year is huge…. There were some quiet guys in the locker room last year.”
Becotte will anchor a defense core with some familiarity, augmented by juniors Ben DeMoranville, Carson Spencer, sophomore Alex Marsden, and senior Gabe Murray.
Austin will lead a forward group that will see an infusion of skill from senior forward Chris Gauvin. The older brother of sophomore forward Derek Gauvin is back at ORR after attending and playing hockey last winter at Bishop Stang. Two freshmen, Lucas Long and Chace Couture, also project as potential top-nine forwards. The returning forward group also includes senior Mitchell Higgins, juniors Nate Ribeiro, Michael Tobin, and August Vincent, and sophomores Sam Newton, Harrison Hughes, and Nate Guerreiro.
Junior goaltender Dylan Branco is back and is expected to back up Galvotti to start the season. There are four Fairhaven players on the team: Becotte, Branco, Murray, and Ribeiro.
With Apponequet opting-out of the season, the South Coast Conference will offer ORR/Fairhaven 10 games with a potential of two more in a postseason league playoff.
Jaegar Carlyle is Ledogar’s new assistant, along with help from Barry O’Neil of the Cape Cod Hockey development program.
By Mick Colageo