MARBLEHEAD — The Marblehead boys hockey team didn’t have the season it hoped for last winter. A 5-12-1 finish saw the Magicians fall well short of a state tournament berth and Marblehead struggled to stay afloat in a competitive Northeastern Conference. Marblehead’s goal coming into this season was to right the ship and get back to being a competitive group. Senior forward Jacob Garfield and his teammates are on their way toward reaching that feat.
Marblehead’s 7-2 through its first nine games of the season. The Magicians started 7-0 out of the gate, with their first loss coming to Winthrop this past weekend. Garfield has started each game, scoring eight goals with seven assists.
“This year we have a bunch of returning players which is huge for us,” Garfield, a four-year varsity player, said. “They’re all super talented. They’re great leaders and great players to have. We combined that with a new coaching staff and we’re having a good season. We’re playing as a team and that’s where our success comes from.”
A two-sport athlete who’s also a member of Marblehead’s boys lacrosse team, Garfield couldn’t have asked for a better start to his senior hockey season.
“It’s really nice,” Garfield said. “Going into college next year, I’d like this to be a fun year. We can’t ask for anything more. Everyone’s having a good time.”
Garfield captains the Magicians alongside assistant captains Paul Heffernan (senior defenseman) and Will Shull (sophomore forward). First-year Magicians coach Chris Wells has come away impressed with the leadership skills and work ethic Garfield brings to the mix.
“Jacob is a great leader on and off the ice,” Wells said. “He has earned great respect among his teammates. As a player, he’s always working hard in games and in practices. It’s good for everyone on the team and especially the younger guys to see the work ethic and dedication he brings to the program. His style of leadership sets the tone for the program this season and seasons to come.”
Although last season didn’t bring the results the Magicians aimed for, the lessons they learned have carried over this year. Marblehead has adapted a new, fresh mentality this year and the confidence has trickled down through the roster.
“We learned how to lose,” Garfield said. “We didn’t have the right mindset. We went into games thinking we’d lose. This year, we know what not to do. That helps us win. We go into games thinking we’re not going to lose. We’re no longer playing intimidated or scared. We’re just going all out.”
Garfield joined the Magicians with perfect timing. As a freshman in 2015-2016, Garfield helped Marblehead to a 21-0-1 regular season and an appearance in the Division 2 North sectional final.
He’d like to see his high school hockey career end the way it started.
“As a team we all want to win the NEC,” Garfield said. “We want to make a really good run in the playoffs. Our last run was my freshman year when we were 24-0-1. We want to make a good run in the playoffs and get a couple home tournament games to make it easier for us.”
As the team climbs the ladder in the NEC, the stakes get higher. But that doesn’t change the approach.
“We go in and work hard every day,” Garfield said. “We look at it as though we haven’t won a game. Nobody has mentioned (the solid start to the season) because we take it case by case. It’s nothing we pay attention to. It’s just there. If anything it makes it harder for us because there’s a target on our backs. It just increases our level of play.”
Garfield and the Magicians will look to end a two-game slide Saturday (4) when they visit Peabody at James McVann-Louis O’Keefe Memorial Skating Rink.