Lynn Jets feel optimistic heading into new season

Brian Clougherty returns to the Lynn Jets for his senior season. (Item File Photo)

LYNN — All things considered, last season was a successful one for the Lynn Jets hockey team. After coming into the season with no established goalie and a new head coach, the Jets rode their high-flying offense to a 13-6-4 record, a No. 5 seed in the Division 3 North tournament and a trip to the sectional semifinals. Lynn fell short at that point to eventual sectional champion Swampscott, but coach Mike Roberts knew the seeds had been planted for the team going forward.

“It was an unbelievable season considering where we started the year, but it was still bittersweet falling short,” said Roberts, now in his second season. “But to get to where we got last year, it’s just a testament to the group of guys we had. They really set the precedent for what we want to do as a program going forward.”

This year’s Jets have a bit of a different look, but most of the key positions are filled. Senior Jack Gallant established himself as the team’s goalie last year after converting from defense, finishing the season with a respectable 0.811 save percentage. Two of the team’s top three scorers from last year, seniors Brian Clougherty (28 goals, 34 assists) and John DiFilippo (25 goals, 17 assists), are back on the first line. Seven seniors in total are returning from last year’s team, while senior transfer Paul Papageorgiou makes his way over from Bishop Fenwick.

“I think we’re going to have a really strong offensive team once again,” Roberts said. “That said, it’s going to be a collective team effort. We have a lot of guys with talent who can contribute and who have been playing together for a long time now. We have some holes to fill on defense, but with Jack coming into his second year in net anchoring things, I think we’ll be okay.”

But as is the case in high school sports, the Jets also have to replace some key pieces. Mike Clougherty (15 goals, 30 assists) and Sean Devin (11 goals, 17 assists) are gone from the offense, while Quinn Brinkler and Justin Mayne leave vacancies in the defense.

“That was an unbelievable group of guys, and we’re going to miss them,” said Roberts. “They did such a good job setting the tone for us all year last season, and they did an equally good job of passing that mindset down to the guys who are still here.”

Roberts sees senior Andrew Patrie moving up to the first line in place of Mike Clougherty, while senior Aidan Seitz and sophomore Matt Devin will anchor the second line. As for the defense, senior Owen Downey will lead the way along with sophomore Christian Alquinta, who had a breakout freshman year, and senior Troy Petkevitch who is returning to action after breaking his wrist in the second game of last season.

The Jets started practicing at the beginning of the week and have a number of scrimmages planned for the coming weeks. Lynn will face off against Beverly in the Northeastern Conference Jamboree this weekend and will also scrimmage against Peabody and Saugus.

After that comes the start of the season, with a road game against Somerville on December 15 (5).

“Our legs aren’t quite where I want them to be yet, so for now we’re just working on getting back into hockey shape,” said Roberts. “We want to be able to play fast and physical like last year and be able to move the puck around. Somerville is a good team with a great coach and they’ll be ready to go, so we’ll have to keep working hard over the next couple weeks in order to match them.”

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