MARBLEHEAD — The 2017-2018 season is one the Marblehead boys hockey team would like to erase from its memory.
The Magicians finished at 5-12-1, and didn’t qualify for the postseason. During the offseason, former longtime coach Bob Jackson stepped down and was replaced by Chris Wells.
During the past week and a half, Wells and his assistant coaches have attempted to shorten the learning curve that comes with bringing in a new coaching staff. The Magicians have finalized their roster, for the most part.
“First of all, getting on the ice last week was a little overwhelming in that we had 43 kids come out for the varsity team,” Wells, who coached Marblehead’s girls team last year, said. “I didn’t even know their names.
“I hadn’t seen these kids play hockey,” he said. “It was a little tough for me and my assistant coaches trying to pick a team. We have a couple newcomers that look pretty good. We’re still in the process of trying to whittle it down a little bit.”
Some teams prefer to build from the goalie on out. That’s certainly the case with the Magicians as they return junior Peter Santeusanio in net.
“Coming in everybody told me about Peter,” Wells said. “He looks good in practice. He looked good in our first scrimmage. He finds a way to stop the puck. Last year he was relied on a lot. He kept them in a lot of games.”
Senior center Jacob Garfield will captain the team.
“Jacob’s a natural leader,” Wells said. “He goes hard every drill, every shift. The kids really respect him.”
The Magicians return four forwards in juniors Zach Piersol, Colin Hart, Loch Sheridan and sophomore Will Schull. Defensively, senior Paul Heffernan returns after missing time with an injury last winter and Brendan Locke returns for his senior season.
“The forwards are our rock,” Wells said. “That’s where our natural talent is. We have speed up front. We almost have three lines we think can play consistently. Defensively, we have four seniors. One of them was injured last year. We’re going to need to rely on some of their senior leadership back there. Good defense will be the key in how well we do this year and whether or not we go to the playoffs.”
Thus far, the mentality in practice has been where Wells hoped it would be. Marblehead’s taking this season as a redemption year and the Magicians are eager to prove themselves.
“These guys have all set a good example on the ice and off the ice,” Wells said. “After last year I wasn’t sure about how the attitude would be coming into this year. They seem to have rededicated themselves.
“They don’t want to go 5-12 again,” Wells continued. “In past years, they’ve had much better teams and much better records. I think the rededication with a little more effort and a little more hard work can bring better results this season.”
Wells is new to the Northeastern Conference but projects a tight race until the end. He knows his Magicians will have to be ready to compete on a nightly basis.
“I feel like it’s pretty tight,” Wells said. “Every game kind of seems tight. I’m not sure if one team has dominated each year. Like all other divisions, it just seems like there’s an extra edge for division games. We just have to be prepared for that.”
The Magicians open the new season Saturday night (6:15) at Scituate.
“They’re excited. They want to get out there and play hockey,” Wells said. “They’ve been excited from the start. I wish we had scheduled a few more scrimmages to get more game stuff in against another team. We’ve done things in practice to simulate game things. They’re ready to go. They’re ready to go out and play an actual game.”