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By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Walpole High School hockey put together a respectable 12-7-3 regular season record in 2018-2019, earning themselves the No. 8 seed in Division I South. Unfortunately, the Rebels fell to rival and No. 9 Wellesley (3-0) in the opening round of the tournament to conclude their season.
In 2019-2020, the Rebels will need to overcome the graduation of all three of their top scorers in Conor Foley, Ryan Boyajian and Danny Savary. However, despite a great of lost offensive production, Walpole enters this season confident in their abilities to adjust and return to the state tournament.
Leading the Rebels this season will be a trio of senior co-captains in winger Matt Donnelly, as well as defensemen Liam Fisher and Marc Hirshom. Fisher says that he and his fellow captains will look to continue the tradition of making Walpole a state championship contender.
“One goal we have this season as a team is to make [the] tournament,” said Fisher on his team’s plans for 2019-2020. “All four years I’ve played hockey, the team has made tournament, which is a trend we don’t plan on ending this year.”
Along with the obvious of competing for a spot in the tournament, Fisher says he and his team are putting an emphasis on the short-term goal, which is to get better, instead of looking too far ahead.
“Another goal is to get better as the season progresses. With how it’s shaping up, younger players are going to have to play a major role on our team this year. This may not come so easy at first, but a big goal for the team is to get those players in a situation where they feel comfortable playing at the highest level possible. We do have a core of senior forwards who I believe will have a great year as well. We also must focus on playing the whole game at 100 percent, something that we sometimes struggle with.”
When it comes to filling voids of last season’s top scorers, Fisher says he and his fellow captains are confident in their team’s abilities to produce the necessary offense to win hockey games and compete for a spot in the tournament.
Our three leading goal scorers were all seniors with [Conor] Foley, [Danny] Savary and [Ryan] Boyajian, so this year, players will need to fill their roles, which won’t be easy,” said Fisher. “I do believe, however, the forwards we have this year have the potential to produce consistently on offense, but just like everything, that will take hard work and effort. We may not have the flash that our offense did last year, but I do believe the forwards have potential to do great things.”
Walpole will begin its quest back to the state tournament on December 14 at Newton North.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.