While the majority of their classmates are still tucked in their cozy beds on frigid New England mornings, Tom Cahill and Shane Bowen make the trek to the Hobomock Arenas at 4:30 a.m. for hockey practice.
Any player that suits up for the boys’ hockey team at Pembroke High must be dedicated, and prepared to skate before dawn five times per week.
That work ethic and passion paid off last March. In their seventh season as a varsity program, the Titans captured the Division 3 South Sectional title before falling to eventual state champion Marblehead in the state semifinals. And the squad is determined to take it one step further this season.
Getting up early “is rough in the beginning,’’ said Cahill, a 5-foot-8 forward. “After a week or two, you start to get in the flow. It’s nice getting our workout done in the morning. We don’t have to worry about watching what we eat in the day or doing anything after school.’’
The Hobomock Arenas are home to five high school hockey programs (Hanover, Marshfield, Pembroke, Scituate, and Silver Lake), so ice time is limited. As the youngest program, the Titans are stuck with the early time.
However, the early start does have its advantages.
“A lot of guys stay around and shoot after practice and work on their game,’’ added Cahill. “We have extra time before and after so we get here early and get off late. I wouldn’t have Pembroke hockey any other way than in the morning.’’
The early-morning conditioning paid off in the opener against Patriots rival Silver Lake as Pembroke rolled to a 9-3 win. Cahill found the net twice and potted five assists.
Bowen, also a senior captain, anchored the defense.
“It was a good game but a little sloppy,’’ said the 5-foot-11 defenseman. “Getting our first win and getting the two points was big for us.
“There are some things we need to improve on. Silver Lake’s got a good team so it was good to get that win. We started later than everyone so it’s great to start off with two points.’’
Bowen was happy to get back in the flow.
“It was big for us,’’ he said. “But we know it’s a new year and nothing is going to be handed to us. We want to go even further than last year and improve upon that. We want to take it one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves.’’
The bar is certainly higher this season.
“We got a good taste of success last year with a lot of hard work,’’ said coach Mark Duffy. “The 10 guys that graduated last year left that expectation for us. We’re trying to establish that year in and year out, that we’re a strong hockey program on the South Shore.’’
The Titans have a void in goal minus graduate Kyle Jacobs, who racked up eight shutouts last season while compiling a 1.61 goals against average.
Junior Bob McElligott, who made the start against Silver Lake, is vying for the starting spot with sophomore Jackson Wainwright.
“It feels good to start,’’ said 6-foot-2 McElligott, who attended several camps and clinics in the offseason to work on his game. “I got a little taste last year against Duxbury. Silver Lake isn’t a team to take lightly.’’
Duffy said the pair have huge shoes to fill.
“The competition for the number one netminding spot between Jackson and Bobby is phenomenal in practice and it’s healthy,’’ said the coach.
While the ultimate goal is a championship, McElligott said the Titans must keep their focus short term.
“We have to take it one game at a time,’’ he said. “You can’t set your mind on the championship right away. It has to be in the rearview mirror.’’
Duffy said he leans on Cahill for his leadership and athletic ability. “It’s nice to have someone like him around,’’ said the coach. “He’s the hardest-working kid in drills and when they’re on the ice.’’
“He’s seen the program grow. He’s had the opportunity to learn from the older kids. The expectations got handed down. He’s taken that torch and he’s a leader by example and he’s a leader vocally.’’
Cahill recalled being in the locker room after last year’s loss to Marblehead. Each senior reflected on his time in the program and encouraged the underclassmen to step up.
“I can’t remember the exact words, but I remember their emotions,’’ Cahill said. “It was motivational in the offseason for us. I picked up on what they said and did, and try and bring it to these kids.’’
Wamps show strength in debut
The Braintree High boys beat Newton North 6-1 in their Bay State Carey debut. Sophomore forward Nick Ward registered goals and assists in each of the first two games against Walpole and North. Coach Dave Fasano said he was pleased with the victory over the Tigers. “We had six different guys score. It shows the depth we have,’’ said Fasano. The Wamps return three skaters that had 25-plus points last season.
Norwood girls score big in 2d win
The Norwood girls pounded Milton, 8-2, for their second straight win, “a total team effort,’’ said coach Bill O’Donnell. Sophomore forward Emily Kelley and junior forwards Kaitlin McCarthy and Jenny Rossman each netted a pair of goals.