Melrose up to 10 wins and counting; makes Super 8 Watch List
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — The Melrose Red Raider hockey team is heading to playoffs after successfully securing 20 points with a recent victory over Wilmington and improving its overall record to 10-5-2.
This is the third straight appearance for Melrose under the guidance of coach Vin Mirasolo, who at this point, can be credited for a total renovation of the program that only decades ago was considered among the more fearsome in the state.
On Friday, Feb. 6 the MIAA released its official Super 8 Watch List and Melrose was on it, along with other Middlesex League teams Arlington, Burlington and Woburn. The list consists of approximately 20 schools pulled together by league officials and scouts from the Massachusetts Hockey Coaches Association that will be most likely to participate in the annual hockey tournament. The final list will be generated on Feb. 21.
Early in the season coach Vin Mirasolo predicted that his team would improve as the season progressed, since much of the team were exchanging football cleats for skates in early December and, sure enough, Melrose has shown increased depth as the regular season winds down. Case in point, in their first meeting with Burlington (state champs in 2013) on Jan. 7 Melrose fell to the Red Devils 4-3, but on Feb. 7 they tied them 1-1 thanks to a goal from Zack Mercer. On Jan. 3 Melrose tied Wilmington (2013 state champ) 3-3 only to beat them on Feb. 4 by a convincing score of 5-3, thanks to goals from Steve Guttadauro (2) Jack Hickey, Brian McLaughlin and Jake Karelas.
“Our tie against Burlington was a great game,” says coach Mirasolo. “Burlington is as good as any team in the tournament. Our kids are focused, they are working hard at the game plan.” One pleasant surprise has been the addition of Guttadauro, a junior who has come up big on offense. “Steve’s really like the glue of our second line, he is the point of power play man. He plays a lot of minutes.” Mirasolo also credits senior Ryan Feeney for his leadership. “He’s doing well, he works so hard and is a consummate team player. He leads by example for our younger players who I hope emulate him.”
Leading scoring for the Raiders remains their senior captains Brian McLaughlin, Zack Mercer and Jack Hickey, a frightening trio on the first line, along with senior captain Jake Karelas and Steve Guttadauro.
Melrose faced possibly the best team in the state on Feb. 8 when they took on Austin Prep but were blanked by the Cougars, 6-0. According to Mirasolo, it was a bit of an uneven match going in. “They just play on a different level than us,” he admits. “They’re in the top of the state, a Super 8 given,” he says.
What Melrose can do is put up a heavy fight for a Division 1 North crown and hopefully beyond. The D1 North field is crowded with teams they have plenty of experience with, including Burlington, Woburn and Arlington. “The Div. 1 North bracket is as wide open as it has ever been,” says Mirasolo.
As the post season approaches the Red Raiders, having played the best in state, are battle ready. “Our goal is to take it to another level. We have a strong core of leaders,” Mirasolo says. “We’re physically and mentally tough, we’re a team that has the potential to do nice things in post season.”
Middlesex Freedom League Standings
League Record Overall
W L T GF GA PTS W L T GF GA PTS Win%
Burlington 8 1 3 43 20 19 10 1 3 49 22 23 0.821
Watertown 5 3 4 26 18 14 8 3 4 37 19 20 0.667
Melrose 6 4 2 37 33 14 10 5 2 53 44 22 0.647
Wilmington 3 7 3 27 39 9 7 7 3 45 47 17 0.500
Stoneham 2 10 1 20 60 5 5 10 1 30 66 11 0.344
Wakefield 1 9 2 17 46 4 1 11 4 22 56 6 0.188
Remaining Schedule (home games: Kasabuski Arena)
Sat., Feb. 14 vs. Watertown, 4:50 p.m.
Mon., Feb. 16 vs. Stoneham, 7:10 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 18 vs. Reading, 7:10 p.m.