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Somerville High Winter 2011-12 Preview: Ice Hockey

A young boys team seeks the GBL title, and the girls co-op with Cambridge is filled with veterans.

With the 2011-12 Somerville High winter season about to begin, Somerville Patch will be previewing all seven of the Highlander teams. Unsure how the Highlanders did last year? Want to know who might impact the upcoming season? Just want to know when the first game is? Read on and find out.

Boys Ice Hockey

2010 record: 11-8-1 overall; 4-2-0 in Greater Boston League

The Highlanders came up a game short in the Greater Boston League championship last season, then lost to Triton in the first round of the playoffs. With 19 players returning this season, boys ice hockey coach Chuck Allen is looking for even more.

“The kids buy into what we’re trying to do,” says Allen, who’s coaching his third season with the Highlanders.

Allen says his system encourages not just good hockey, but also good academic habits and behavior, including wearing shirts and ties on game days.

“Coaching hockey is the easy part of coaching,” Allen says. “Trying to do enough academically, how they’re acting in school, that’s the hard stuff."

"Games are fun. Practice is work.”

First 2011 game: Wednesday, 12/13 at Methuen, 5 p.m.

Home Opener: Saturday, 12/17 vs. Northeast Regional at Veterans Memorial Skating Rink, 8 p.m.

Returning GBL All-Stars (Second Team): Charlie O’Leary, senior forward and captain.

“Charlie brings leadership,” Allen says. “Four years on varsity, the way he presents himself on and off the ice, in school, in the dressing room, he’s kind of like a role model for some of the younger kids coming up.”

Dan Camara, junior forward.

“He’s very skilled,” Allen says. “He has good hands. He sees the ice. He’s a smart hockey player.”

Key to the season: Defense

“Everything starts with the defense,” Allen says. “If you keep the puck out of your zone, they can’t score.”

Girls Ice Hockey

2010 record: 12-6-2 overall; 2-4-0 in GBL

Somerville girls who want to play ice hockey play on a co-op team with girls from Cambridge Rindge & Latin. Though the team calls itself the Falcons and wears Cambridge’s black uniforms, coach Kevin Mitrano says his Highlanders have no problems integrating into the team.

“It’s been pretty seamless,” Mitrano says. “The girls, they know they’re here to play hockey. There are really no problems.”

That seamlessness helped Somerville-Cambridge get to last year’s postseason, where they lost in the opening round to Westford. With a 2011-12 squad composed entirely of returning players, Mitrano says his team will try to make it deeper into the playoffs despite a small roster.

“We’re going to have two solid lines,” Mitrano says. “And because I knew that we weren’t going to get a lot of new players, we did some off-ice training before our on-ice practice.”

“It shows on the ice that they have the stamina to play the whole game with only the few players that we have.”

Next game: Wednesday, 12/13 at Everett, 8 p.m. Cambridge-Somerville tied Beverly, 2-2, in Saturday’s season opener.

Home Opener: Saturday, 12/17 vs. Marblehead at Simoni Skating Arena in Cambridge, 5:20 p.m.

Somerville players: Kellie Hagerty, sophomore defenseman.

“Probably our top defenseman,” Mitrano says. “Just a good all-around defenseman. She’s very smart when she rushes the puck. She can get back quick and really defend in front of the net.”

Rachel Cooper, senior forward; 2010 Greater Boston League All-Star.

“She’s good at feeding the puck to the middle, to people in front of the net,” Mitrano says. “She’s good at pushing the puck up the ice and really being an offensive threat.”

Cambridge player to watch: Nicole Giampa, junior forward; All-Conference Team.

“I think she had 36 or 37 points [last season], which are big numbers,” Mitrano says. “She’s a girl that other teams double-team all the time, and they really focus on her.”

Key to the season: Smart hockey

“Not staying on the ice too long,” Mitrano says. “Really picking and choosing when you’re going to rush the puck, or when you’re going to exert that great amount of energy.”

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