The early 2000s were good days for the Pentucket hockey program, immediately following its co-op with Georgetown.
The Sachems won the Cape Ann League in 2003, going undefeated along the way. But time has not been as kind to the Sachems after their last state tournament appearance in 2006. The team posted a 3-16-1 record last season.
Sachems coach Bill Burns believes that his strong class of nine seniors this season can get the Sachems back to where they’ve been before.
“I understand that Newburyport has been good lately,” said Burns. “But the years that we were good, Newburyport was down. It’s public high school hockey. You’ve got hills and valleys.”
Hoping to climb a hill are Burns’ seniors: captain Tom Pingree, goalie Samantha Bomba, defenseman Dan Thornton, along with role players Ian Mitchell, Zach Graham, Joe Mangano, Brendan Moynihan, Branscombe Dubina and Mike Lincoln.
“They’re all on the same page,” Burns says of his seniors. “They’re setting a goal to see if we can get back into the tournament, and after that, everything is gravy, really.”
A CAL All-Star last year, Pingree preaches the same message as his coach.
“The goal is to make the state tournament this year,” Pingree said. “I think we have a good group of guys, and I think that it’s definitely not out of reach for us if we play well together. We’ve just got to gel together as a squad and really come together. If we don’t do that, there’s no way we can do it.”
As far as gelling goes, Burns feels that process has already begun.
“Although it is two different high schools, these kids have gelled already,” said Burns. “They’ve known each other for a long time. They played youth hockey together. So they’ve all known each other most of their lives, and this is kind of a great way to end it up with nine seniors coming in.”