Melrose looking solid halfway through season

Published in the January 19, 2018 edition


MELROSE—The Melrose Red Raider hockey team stands above .500 as they reach the halfway point of their season with one eye on a possible playoff bid. They helped that cause with a 6-1 win over Wakefield on Saturday, Jan. 13 at Kasabuski Rink in Saugus. While they dropped a game against Weymouth days later, Melrose remains 6-5 on the season and has earned 12 points towards playoff contention. 

Head coach Vin Mirasolo is satisfied with where they are, but is seeking consistency. “This is about where I thought we’d be, playing in such a tough league. But there have been games we’ve had that really show our potential, like our Stoneham win which I thought was the best game for us in three years.” 

MELROSE’S SHEA Champagne celebrates after a goal for the Red Raider hockey team. Last week they defeated arch rival Wakefield, 6-1. (Donna Larsson photo)

Melrose has been led on offense by freshmen upstart Brendan Fennell, who leads the team with 16 goals, 11 assists and 27 points. It’s been an impressive debut for him says the coach. “Brendan is an excellent player, really solid in every zone, he has a competitive drive and is a player that can provide foundation for us in future years.” 

Melrose has been fortunate this season to have an abundance of scorers – something they haven’t necessary seen in several years. Beyond Fennell, Melrose has relied on boatloads of scoring from Shea Champagne, Darwin Anderson and Cam Marks. Having that many threats is a nice problem to have. “It’s great to average four goals a game,” says the coach. “It’s made a huge difference. But with that said, we also can’t give up four goals a game, not if we want to make a run in playoffs. I think the work of our defense will decide how far we make it. We really have to sure up on it.” Still, he credits the work of defensemen Charlie Femino, Liam Crovo and Adam Bain. “They’re doing their job. Consistency is key.”

Melrose had no problem finding the net on Saturday, enjoying goals from Brendan Fennell (2) Quinn McCarthy, Shea Champagne and Cam Marks. Marks scored Melrose’s first goal against the Warriors on an assist from Fennell. Melrose’s Quinn McCarthy scored on a feed from Adam Bain with one minute left in the first, past Wakefield goalie Justin Harding.

In the second period Melrose’s Andrew Calvert scored on power play to lift Melrose 3-0. 

The scoring onslaught continued in the third when Red Raider Brendan Fennell scored twice and Shea Champagne once. Wakefield would deny Melrose goalie Mark Dewling a shutout when Jake Regan scored the Warriors only goal in the 6-1 Melrose win.

On Monday, the team traveled to Weymouth for a non league game and lost in a 3-2 heartbreaker. Despite two goals from Shea Champagne and one from Darwin Anderson, Weymouth prevailed. Anderson earned his seventh goal of the season during the game while Champagne now has 5. Cam Marx has 6 goal on the season. 

On the horizon: Melrose faces a tough stretch of schedule with Burlington, Belmont and Reading on tap. Should Melrose win about half of their remaining nine games, they should be able to punch a ticket to post season. 

Says Coach Mirasolo, “We want to do more than win one-lose one. But I think if we play as good as we did against Stoneham, with a lot of discipline and hard work, we can make a go for against Burlington and our other competitors.” 

On Saturday, Melrose travels to the Burlington Ice Palace to take on the 9-2 Red Devils. Puck drops at 6:00 p.m.

Middlesex Freedom Standings

                    League  Overall 

Burlington     6-0-0      9-2-0 

Stoneham     3-2-1      6-2-1 

Melrose         3-3-0      6-5-0 

Wilmington    2-4-0      3-6-0 

Wakefield      0-5-0      3-6-1