Published in the January 8, 2016 edition

THE MELROSE girls’ varsity ice hockey team picked up recent wins over Medford and Wilmington to a successful start to the season. (Donna Larsson photo)

THE MELROSE girls’ varsity ice hockey team picked up recent wins over Medford and Wilmington to a successful start to the season. (Donna Larsson photo)


MELROSE — As the New Year rings in, the always-competitive Melrose Lady Raider hockey team (3-2) looks to make a dent in league competition, kicking off what they hope will be a breakthrough season. Melrose Coach Sam Tetreau returns for her third year at the helm aiming to direct the team to their third straight playoff appearance in 2016. In 2014-15 the Lady Raiders went 10-10-2 overall (third in M.L. Freedom), good enough for another playoff run in the Div. 1 playoffs where they advanced past Winthrop before falling to Austin Prep, 3-0.
This year, more than half their squad are underclassmen – more freshman are on the team than seniors. But some of those upperclassman are entering their fifth year on the squad after playing for the startup team as eighth graders. Those seniors, captain Alyssa Gorman, Katy Perry and Michelle Henry, are part of the inaugural team who hit the ice for Melrose High for the first time in 2013. With these seasoned leaders in place and youth streaming trough the pipeline, there is simply no telling where the Lady Raiders will go this year and beyond. Serving as captains in 2016 are senior Alyssa Gorman, junior Julia McLaughlin and sophomore Rachel DiFraia.
On Monday, Dec. 28, Melrose hosted the Medford Mustangs at the Flynn Rink in Medford and skated away with a 4-2 win. If Monday’s effort was any indication, Melrose can count on offensive contributions from any their skaters. That includes Monday’s scorers: Rachel DiFraia, Sam Kroon and Katy Petty. Seeing time on the first line in the early season are Julia McLaughlin, Sam Kroon and Rachel DiFraia. According to coach Tetreau, the team is also fortunate to rotate defense with Jill Mercer, Alyssa Gorman, Saoirse Connolly, Katy Perry and Darby Rich seeing time. Following the win, Melrose supplemented that with a 7-1 thrashing over Wilmington on Saturday January 2.
Melrose has lost a standout goalie to transfer but returns with frosh Courtney O’Connor, who held her own against a Medford squad, earning a number of saves at the net. “Courtney’s new but playing solid and the experience will come to her,” says her coach.
In the early season, Tetreau is looking to buckle down on the basics, particularly from some of the younger players. “We’re focusing on catch and receive, picking our heads up, that sort of thing.”
The Middlesex League houses some of the best public school talent in the state. In 2014 some was contained in the Middlesex Freedom League with Watertown (19-4-1) and Burlington (17-6-1) posing tough competition for Melrose while state champ Reading (22-2) ran away with a title. Things have shifted this season with both Watertown and Burlington off to quiet starts at 0-3. “After Reading, I think the league is really anyone’s game,” contends Tetreau. “It should be pretty even.”
Melrose dipped into their league schedule this week and will continue with upcoming games against Watertown and Stoneham.

Recent action:
Melrose 5 vs. Belmont 0 Dec. 16, 2015
Arlington 5 vs. Melrose 3 Dec. 19, 2015
Lexington 2 vs. Melrose 0 Dec. 23, 2015
Melrose 4 vs. Medford 2 Dec. 28, 2015
Melrose 7 vs. Wilmington 1 Jan. 2, 2016

League standings
Melrose 2 2 0 15 8 4 0.600
Stoneham 2 2 1 11 10 4 0.583
Wilmington 1 3 1 11 25 3 0.375
Burlington 1 3 0 8 7 2 0.000
Watertown 0 4 0 0 13 0 0.000
Wakefield 0 4 0 3 22 0 0.000

Upcoming schedule
Melrose vs. Wakefield – Flynn Rink, Medford, Sat., Jan. 9, 2016 noon
Melrose vs. Watertown – Flynn Rink, Medford, Wed., Jan. 13, 2016 6 p.m.
Stoneham vs. Melrose – Stoneham Arena, Sat., Jan. 16, 2016 6 p.m.