The Colchester High School boys hockey team has won six of seven games, including five straight where it has tallied 31 goals to get within striking distance of Division I’s top seed.
Breaking up the Lakers’ top line of Matty Cuce, Avery Steele and Ryan Francis — a trio of talented forwards — has sparked the turnaround.
Jake St. Pierre has joined the first line with Cuce and Francis while Steele forms the next line with Garrett Swan and Jared Rylant, shifts coach Greg Murray made following the loss to South Burlington on Jan. 12. The Lakers are 6-0-1 since, improving to 10-3-2 overall in the parity-filled Metro.
“It seems to be a better fit and has made a big difference,” Murray said. “We are more committed to the team concept of things, making smart hockey plays.”
South Burlington and Essex, which the Lakers play today in a rematch of last year’s five-overtime semifinal thriller, are other examples of teams that benefited from line changes or additions.
“You’d like to think as a coach you have all the answers,” Murray said, “but there’s always a little tweaking and it seemed like the timing was right.”
Rice coach steps down
Rice Memorial coach Mark Young stepped away from the program he’s guided for five-plus seasons last week, said athletic director Gino Riffle.
Riffle declined to provide details on why Young left, saying, “He resigned (last week). That’s our statement.”
Riffle, who was part of the boys hockey coaching staff at Kimball Union Academy (N.H) for 14 years, including nine as a head coach, has taken over the Green Knights program on an interim basis with Ian Morse.
Young last’s game as coach came on Jan. 30. Riffle said Young was “under the weather” for Rice’s next game — vs. Essex on Feb. 2 — before handing in his resignation a few days later. The Green Knights are 3-12 and are in the midst of a six-game losing streak. Young didn’t return a cellphone message seeking comment Tuesday.
Northfield continues hot play
Behind Jackson Tucker (34 goals, 17 assists) and Jackson Watson (13 goals, 28 assists), Northfield is riding an 11-game winning streak.
And while the Marauders’ next three games are against teams with sub-.500 records, coach Paul Clayton won’t let his team, one of the contenders in the Lake Division, think too far ahead.
“Streaks are good for counting once the finals are over,” Clayton said. “I don’t want them to get comfortable. “
Northfield also plays Burr and Burton, U-32 and Brattleboro to conclude the regular season, a trio of road contests against teams with a combined record of 39-7-3.