FRAMINGHAM — During the first day of the tryouts she ran this season as the new girls’ hockey coach at Framingham High, it did not take long for Ashley Mabardy to come to a decision on Abby Bogovich.
It did not matter to her that Bogovich had been a defenseman since her start in youth hockey in Minnesota, or that she holds down the blue line for her Assabet Valley club team, or that she played the position for the Flyers as a freshman last year. Mabardy was sure of what she saw. Bogovich, at 5-foot-10-plus in skates, was in for a big change for her sophomore season.
“She was a forward, and I told her that from the very first day,” Mabardy said Sunday at Loring Arena, Framingham’s home rink. “I see her as such a strong skater. Not many kids at this level have had power-skating training. She’s such a powerful skater that I felt like her speed and her strength was needed out front.”
The transition — far from immediate or easy — has been instrumental in revitalizing the Flyers this season, and mirrored the growth of the program. Behind a team-high 15 goals and 21 points from Bogovich, Framingham (7-4-7) earned a berth in the Division 1 state tournament, the team’s first since 2011.
The first postseason test came Tuesday, in a preliminary-round match with Billerica. But to a certain degree, the Flyers’ tournament results do not matter as much as the fact that they got there.
Framingham missed the postseason the last two years with a combined 11-27-3 record, and heading into this season — Mabardy’s first after serving as an assistant coach at rival Natick High the previous four years — the players had a clear number-one objective.
“We went over goals in the beginning of the season, helping the coaching staff get to know these kids because we were new to them and they were new to us,” Mabardy said. “And every single kid said, ‘We just want to go to the tournament.’ ”
At the time, it seemed like a reasonable steppingstone. Now, Mabardy just laughs, because no one knew what they were in for — or capable of. Framingham started 1-4-4 in the first month. The Flyers have not lost since.
The streak includes four wins in one eight-day span, capped by a come-from-behind victory over previously undefeated Wellesley, 4-3, on Jan. 29.
So what was different during that 6-0-3 stretch? A simple mind-set change.
“For a while, they didn’t see themselves as being successful,” Mabardy said. “They had a hard time really believing and having confidence in themselves that they are a strong team. They were OK with the way they performed, and if we were competing it was OK.
“Then, it was ‘If we’re tying, we’re in it, so it’s OK.’ Now we’re winning and it’s great.”
The change in attitude took about a month, which, maybe not coincidentally, was about how long it took for Bogovich to adjust to playing center, by her estimation. She said she was absolutely ready to give moving up to the front line a shot, but it did not come so easily at first.
“I wasn’t quite sure, because I’ve had coaches say I should be a forward for a really long time, but I never trusted one to teach me to play the position,” Bogovich said. “I was nervous, but I really just wanted to learn how to play the position.”
As the numbers indicate — Bogovich has scored about one-third of the team’s goals — the transition has gone well, and now she has a more complete understanding of the game.
Just in time to finish a 360-degree turn.
For the last two games of the regular season, and for the foreseeable future, Bogovich has moved back to defense. Instead of being a center that initially stayed back too much, she will be a defenseman that still plays up and scores regularly, if Mabardy has her way.
The change back became somewhat permanent against Needham on Feb. 10. Framingham was down, 1-0, late in the third, and the Rockets were peppering senior goalie Ashley Castriotta (2.33 goals-against average, .926 save percentage).
Mabardy put Bogovich on the blue line in an effort to slow Needham down. Bogovich scored from the point on her first shift in an eventual 1-1 tie that kept the unbeaten streak alive.
“The great thing about Abby is she capitalizes on every opportunity no matter where she is on the ice,” Mabardy said.
Where Bogovich plays next year remains to be seen. But either way, the Flyers’ seniors are pleased with the foundation they built this year.
“I’m definitely proud of the way we’re leaving it,” Castriotta said. “I definitely think there’s going to be improvements.”
Added senior captain and defenseman Cassie McKinnon : “This year was a turning point. New coaching staff, getting it all together, starting over. I think we really proved this is a new beginning.”
Shrewsbury boys set regular-season mark
The Shrewsbury High boys’ hockey team made history last week. By winning the last two games of the regular season, the Colonials finished with a 17-2-1 record — the best in the program’s 33-year history.
The numbers behind the record are gaudy: 5.8 goals per game against just 1.5 goals allowed; 12 players registering double-digit point totals; two eight-game unbeaten streaks bookending a 2-2 stretch in January.
Shrewsbury’s top line of center Jack Quinlivan , right wing Dan Quinlivan , and left wing Matt Dillon accounted for 46 goals and 65 assists. Dillon, who spent most of the season as a defenseman before moving up, according to coach Steve Turnblom , has the fourth-most assists of anyone in the state.
“His hockey IQ is through the roof,” Turnblom said. “You think he’s going to shoot and he dishes it off.”
The successes would mean little, however, without an impressive showing in the postseason. Given the six-team Division 3 Central tourney and a first-round bye, Shrewsbury is two wins away from a sectional title and a state semifinals berth.
The Colonials were in a similar scenario last year, winding up in the sectional semifinals after a 15-5-1 regular season and quarterfinal win. They lost to Wachusett Regional, 2-1 in overtime, to bring an abrupt end to their season.
“We’re well aware,” Turnblom said, “on any given game anyone can beat you.”
Odds and ends
At least two area athletes reached the 100-point plateau last week: Acton-Boxborough Regional sophomore forward Kaitlin Hoang did so against St. Mary’s of Lynn, and Shrewsbury senior forward Dave Belbin scored against Algonquin Regional to reach the milestone. Hoang is the third Colonial to do it this season, with teammates Leah Cardarelli and Megan Barrett joining the club a week apart about a month ago. . . A lesson in tempering expectations: Milford High freshman Alec Gilliatt scored four goals in his varsity debut Dec. 14, then netted three more the rest of the way. He also put up 10 assists for 17 total points, an impressive showing for a freshman on the varsity.Tim Healey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @timbhealey.