METHUEN — The Methuen High hockey team has experienced the typical growing pains this season associated with a freshman-sophomore laden squad.
But the Rangers, 3-11-1 so far in the Merrimack Valley-Dual County League, do have two captains who lead by example.
Junior captain Nick August is known for his intimidating play on the ice and said that helps him in practice with the younger skaters.
“I’d say a couple of the kids are kind of afraid of me and some realize they had better not irritate me,” August explained. “They pretty much listen to me because I’m here giving all this effort and they know to do the same.”
With six sophomores and seven freshmen on the team, August said the season is trying because the squad is so young.
“It’s kind of difficult to play with kids this young because they don’t really know what they’re into yet and they don’t know too many of the plays,” August said. “So they have to get used to it before we can really start putting anything together.”
Head coach Chris Hudon said one of the best games his team played so far was a 3-2 loss to Andover on Jan. 17.
“We had effort all three periods. We had execution and we stayed within our systems,” Hudon said. “When we do that we can compete on a nightly basis. When we try to do different things and get away from what makes us a good hockey team, that’s when we find ourselves getting into trouble.”
Junior captain James MacDonald said mistakes have cost the Rangers victories in some of their games.
“I think we make some dumb mistakes,” MacDonald said. “I think we hang in the games all the time, and then one mistake and it costs us the game.”
Along with August and MacDonald, Hudon said other members of the team have been pleasant surprises this season.
“Jonathon Borden is a young sophomore, but his quality of play has really sparked this team this year,” Hudon said. “And Justen Bolognese, a transfer from Central, he’s been an excellent addition in his leadership and hockey abilities. We’re excited to have him here on our team.”
Bolognese and MacDonald hope to play some sort of hockey after they graduate from Methuen, but August doesn’t plan on playing once his days as a Ranger are over.
“I’m the only odd one here,” August said. “I really don’t have any intention of playing after high school. The only real way I’m going to keep playing is if I get scholarship money to play for college. Other than that, I’m going to focus on studying.
“It’s not the most fun for me anymore. I enjoy doing other things now and I like weightlifting a lot more than hockey now. It’s fun when there’s no pressure on, like when you’re messing around and everything, that’s fun. But you have so much pressure on you when you’re playing and it’s kind of a pain to deal with.”
Regardless of whether he enjoys it or not, Bolognese said August’s effort does not take a back seat.
“His best quality is his effort,” Bolognese said of his teammate. “He tries and he always gives 100 percent, even if he doesn’t like it.”
August said MacDonald is one of the reasons why he puts so much effort into playing hockey.
“He just gives as much as he can,” August said of his fellow co-captain. “He really cares about being here and if everyone cared half as much as he did, we’d win every game.”
MacDonald is more optimistic on the future of the team.
“I think if we can work hard we can win our games,” MacDonald said. “We should be fine.”