Seniors could prove difference in 2017-18

Published in the December 15, 2017 edition

By JENNIFER GENTILE

MELROSE—The Melrose High girl’s hockey team returns this winter with a seasoned group of upperclassmen that could prove the recipe of success Melrose to make a playoff run in 2017-18. 

Melrose’s current senior athletes have four years of experience as Red Raiders in their pocket—many joined the squad as 8th graders. Thus, they have grown tremendously over the years and should be at the top of their game. That includes their captains Jill Mercer and Rachel DiFraia and assistant captains Saoirse Connolly and Sam Kroon. Add Emma and Grace Sikora, and Melrose’s experienced skaters could skate past the competition this year. 

RACHAEL DIFRAIA and the Lady Raider ice hockey team look to return to playoffs this season. (file photo)

Worth noting: Melrose’s starting goalie Courtney O’Connor also returns, which bodes well for the team. 

According to coach Sam Tetra, their overall experience is a big factor this year. “Most of our defense is made up of seniors, which helps. Though we will have some strong forwards, so I sense more potential for scoring this season compared to last.” 

Melrose has only missed playoffs once since their formation- last season – and this year they have new weapons could allow them to make a dent in the Middlesex League. One of those new players to watch is eighth grader Emily Crovo, who is already making an impact for the team. Melrose opened their season against Peabody last Saturday at home and battled to a 2-2 tie. Crovo scored her first varsity goal, on assists by Sam Kroon and Emma Lynch Galvin.

“Emily will be our starting center and we have big hopes for her,” says her coach.

Saoirse Connolly also found the net for Melrose, unassisted. Overall, Tetreau liked what she saw offensively, but tipped her cap to Peabody offense. “Their goalie was playing amazing and got the best of us.”

The lines this season so far are fluid and ever-changing, but a few names in the mix are Sam Kroon, Emily Crovo and Emma Lynch Galvin. On defense, Melrose will be tough behind Mercer, Connolly and DiFraia. Marie Maher, meanwhile, has seen great improvement, according to the coach. “She worked so hard on the off season, she’s really growing into her position.” She also points to work of Mairead Clark. “She has a big presence on the ice.”

Returning and new players include Linnea Kelley, Sydney Kroon, Hannah Connolly, Caroline Keirnan, Emily Waden, Maggie O’Donnell, Itia Figuera and Sofia Gukelberger.

For Tetreau, she likes what she sees on defense and hopes Melrose will find the net easier this season. “We switched Rachel [DiFraia] to defense, which is her natural position, and I think that will aid us a lot.”  

Melrose will face tough competition over the winter, but these seasoned players won’t back down. And the coach hopes to see that intensity on ice. “We take nothing for granted. I am telling the girls ‘play every game like its the game that will make or break your season’.”

Melrose gets that chance when they host Lexington on Saturday at noon at Flynn Rink.

Season Schedule  

Sat 12/9/17 vs Peabody , 12

Sat 12/16/17 v Lexington 12

Wed 12/20/17@ Arlington 8

Sat 12/23/17 v Woburn 12

Tue 1/2/18 @ Wilmington 8

Sat 1/6/18 v Stoneham 6

Wed 1/10/18 @ Watertown 5

Sat 1/13/18 v Wakefield, 12

Mon 1/15/18 v Cambridge Rindge, 1

Wed 1/17/18 @ Haverhill 7

Sat 1/20/18 @ Burlington, 8

Wed 1/24/18 @ Belmont, 4:45

Sat 1/27/18 vs. Reading, 12

Tue 1/30/18 @ Winchester 5

Sat 2/3/18 vs Wilmington, 12

Wed 2/7/18 @ Stoneham 6

Sat 2/10/18 vs Watertown, 12

Wed 2/14/18 @ Wakefield 6

Sat 2/17/18 vs Burlington, 12

Wed 2/21/18 @ Peabody, 2