WINTHROP — Going into the season the Winthrop girls hockey team brought plenty of new faces into the mix.
But Winthrop hasn’t skipped a beat, with senior leadership setting the tone and helping lead the Vikings to a hot start.
“The leadership of the captains has been great,” Winthrop coach Anthony Martucci said. “Abby Stafford along with Bella Perrotti and Emma Carleton are three of the best we have had here. It is always tough when you are bringing in a group of 10 eighth-graders. To actually mix that with the rest of the team is not easy.”
The Vikings started 5-1 with their first loss coming last week in a 3-2 defeat to Peabody. They bounced back with a win over Watertown earlier this week. The solid start to the season has everything to do with the team’s work ethic at practice, Martucci said.
“Practices have been great this year,” Martucci said. “The girls attack. They are heavy on pucks and they work hard. We do a lot of small-sided games and they really enjoy that and work hard with it everyday, it’s been good.”
The Vikings have seen several different players, some young and some more experienced, step up for them on the ice in key moments.
“Emma Carleton has been a strong player for us so far,” Matucci said. “She has found the back of the net a lot. We have some freshmen and younger players stepping up, scoring for us too and having some strong starts.
“Olivia Driscoll (junior) has played well,” Martucci added. “Julia Holmes (eighth-grader) has been great. She is a great player as well. Right now, we are a young team. We have just been trying to work on a few things, including our execution.”
In his 11th year of coaching the Vikings, Martucci has been impressed with his team’s speed but knows there’s plenty of room for improvement as the season moves forward.
“Right now one of the things we are most impressed with is our team speed,” Martucci said. “For such a young group we are pretty fast overall. I would just like to see us execute a little better. Especially in our defensive zone. Down there our wings are getting a little bit lost.
“Other than that I feel like we have been great,” Martucci added. “We are hard on pucks, I would like to see us be a little bit stronger in front of the net, but I feel like we have been pretty strong to start the season.”
Another area Martucci hopes the Vikings can improve on is their puck movement.
“I just think that we have to move the puck a little bit better,” Martucci said. “We are still missing that one extra pass that, if it is there, we don’t make. That’s the difference in a lot of games. If we make that one pass to that open player, maybe we get some more opportunities.”
Winthrop has battled a tough spot of the schedule recently and that won’t change with back-to-back games against Watertown coming next.
“We have a really tough slate of games ahead of us,” Martucci said. “We had Falmouth (Maine) (last) Thursday, Peabody (last) Saturday, and then we play Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. It can be hard to get games. We only have five teams in our league now so you only get 10 games and then you have to get eight of your own. Getting those eight games can be hard so you get them whenever you can get them.
“After this stretch we get a little bit more rest in between games,” Martucci added. “Overall we have have had a couple of girls going for us and we are just hoping we can keep that going the rest of the way.”