Even with his team on an eight-game winning streak when the holiday break arrived, Boston Junior Rangers coach and general manager Rich DeCaprio is not about to look at the time off as a bad thing.
“Everyone’s on break,” DeCaprio said of the Eastern Hockey League’s schedule format. “Everybody needs the break. It’s a long season. We had some guys have some nagging, little injuries. It’s good for those guys.
“They don’t really miss a beat.”
A year ago, the Junior Rangers split up for Christmas and New Year’s on a six-game winning streak. When they got back together, they won five more times to extend the streak to 11 before losing for the first time.
This year’s team got back on the ice together for the first time since a Dec. 18 showcase win in time for practices Tuesday and Wednesday. Blizzard conditions closed the rink and wiped out Thursday’s practice, but DeCaprio has a practice set for Friday and is hoping to arrange some ice time Saturday night before resuming game action Sunday afternoon at home against the Total Athletics Seahawks from Cape Cod.
“The guys skate when they go home,” DeCaprio said. “They’ll skate with their old high school team. As long as they’re on the ice once or twice during the week, we’re OK. Really, this is more about rest.
“We’ve already played 31 games.”
The Junior Rangers are 25-6 to lead the Boston Division and the team’s make-up could make it difficult to knock them from the top. For one thing, their depth is hard to match.
Last season’s second-place team featured Mike McPherson and his 35 goals leading the EHL, but only two other players joining him in double figures.
Boston already has all six members of its top two lines in double figures in goals and two more players in position to join them soon with nine and seven.
Danny Sorabella leads the team in goals (15), assists (20) and points (35). He centers a line that includes left wing Ryan Tierney (10-19-29) and right wing Tyler Gardiner (11-10-21).
Zach Norby is second on the team with 13 goals and also has 14 assists. He centers left wing Daniil Ovchinnikov (11-19-30) and Filip Steussloff (10-9-19).
“Our top six guys are all scoring at an even pace and even our third and fourth lines are producing,” DeCaprio said.
The team balance runs well beyond the way the top two lines distribute their scoring.
Nick Grinvalds, who is third on the team with 17 assists and also has six goals, is one of three 1997 birthyear players who lead the defense. Jared Bernis and Damien Dangueuger are the others.
“Those three guys really take control of the defensive side of things for us,” DeCaprio said. “They’re big; they’re strong; they’re veterans; they’re older.
“I think we’ve just got a deep team. There’s not one particular thing we do better than the other. From offense to defense to goaltending, I think we’re very consistent and solid.”
Goalies Nolan Egbert and Ben Parker have put up some of the league’s best numbers.
Egbert leads the league with 16 wins while posting a 2.09 goals against average and .935 save percentage.
“He’s one of the top goalies in the league, if not the best,” DeCaprio said.
Parker is 9-1 and has stopped 57 of 59 shots in a pair of wins over the second-place Walpole Express.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc