Rarely does a high school team have everything it wants before a season begins. Graduation and sudden lack of interest whittles rosters quickly.
For the Lynnfield High School boys ice hockey team it is as close as you can get.
Returning pretty much its entire top two lines and top four defensemen, all the really lacks is an experienced goaltender.
Having only allowed six goals in its first three games, two of them victories, it appears not only is the experience at the blue line going to play a big part in victories in 2011-12 but also the starting netminder may not need all that many varsity minutes to exceed after all.
“The thing that sticks out from a coach’s standpoint is how hard and well this team practices,” said coach Vin Mirasolo, in his 15th year at Lynnfield. “Even though we lost against Triton we played a pretty complete game. This is a very coachable group with an excellent work ethic. I like how they employ in games what we teach them in practice."
Leading the way are defensemen Tyler Smith, Craig Anderson and Jeremy Young, and forward Greg Meininger, the four senior captains.
The back line showed it will be tough to penetrate on opening night when it held Newburyport to only 16 shots on goal in a 1-0 win. It made for a relatively easy debut for sophomore goalie Joe Bassi. Smith chipped in with an assist on the lone goal, two minutes into the second period by Dylan Costa, a senior winger. John Festa also had a helper.
“I think being the opener for both teams both showed a lot of nervous energy and played sloppy (at times),” said Mirasolo, whose team finished 9-8-5 last year and bowed out of the Division 2 North sectionals in the first round. “Any win on opening night is a great win.”
Lynnfield suffered a 4-1 setback against Triton on Dec. 17. After finding themselves down by two goals in the opening stanza the Pioneers cut the deficit to 2-1 on a Costa tally from Festa, a sophomore center. Triton scored an early third-period power play goal to push the lead to 3-1 and held on despite putting 10 less shots on goal than Lynnfield.
“We out-shot Triton 30-20 which bodes well for us to hold a team like that to 20 while we put 30 on them,” Mirasolo added. “Their goalie played exceptionally well. That effort (by us) on another day could bring us a victory.”
Lynnfield scored a 5-2 win over Masconomet on Wednesday night highlighted by Meininger’s hat trick and Costa’s tally 28 seconds into the game. Alex Ganter also scored.
“It was a solid effort with all three lines and defensive pairings playing well,” Mirasolo said. “The execution continues to improve and the effort continues to be good.”
Bassi stopped 20 shots.
The Pioneers next play Danvers on Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the Saugus X-Mas Tournament at Kasabuski Arena.
Three games in, and a history of being one of the top teams in the league, and hopes are high for Lynnfield.
“We have our goals each year to compete for a league title and make a deep run in the state tournament. Expectations are high,” said Mirasolo.
“I think we have a real opportunity to improve and compete at the top of a very, very good Cape Ann League.”