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Abington boys’ hockey riding a wave of success

Abington coach Bryan Woodford goes over the game plan with his players before they faced Cardinal Spellman Wednesday.JOHN TLUMACKI/Globe Staff

A wave can be defined as “an undulating or jagged line constituting a graphic representation of an action.”

For the Abington boys’ hockey team — the Green Wave — it’s been an indicator of the program’s up-and-down path for much of the past few seasons. The current state is a peak as Abington qualified for the MIAA Division 3 South tournament with Sunday’s 6-2 victory against East Bridgewater, just one year removed from the low point of a 4-16-0 campaign.

It’s been a welcome change for the Abington seniors and coach Bryan Woodford, who played for the Green Wave from 1996-2000 and took over the program at the start of this season. And yet, not exactly a surprise to them.


“We don’t have a lot of numbers, but this group has an extremely tight bond,” Woodford said. “Off the ice they’re as tight as you come. I just knew it would translate on the ice, which it has.”

For the seniors, the work began shortly after the tough 2018-19 season ended, skating as a team at least once a week.

“We just wanted to be good, we all hated being 4-and-whatever that was last year. It was probably the worst year of hockey for all of us,” said senior captain Colin McDonald, the team’s top scorer. “Whatever we could do to not have that happen again.”

Colin McDonald is the Green Wave’s top scorer.JOHN TLUMACKI/Globe Staff

There also was the transition to a new coaching staff. Woodford served as an assistant under Anthony Sulmonte from 2003-06 and was passed over for the head coaching job after that, before deciding to go to law school and open his practice. This season with the Green Wave is his first behind a high school bench in any capacity since then.

“He’s brought more of a faster-paced game, moving the puck, get pucks to the net,” said defenseman Joe McCarthy, a senior captain. “Last year it was more of a physical game, going out there and hitting bodies.”


The difference was obvious pretty quickly, with back-to-back wins to start the season, including a key road game against Dennis-Yarmouth. Like any outside observer, senior goalie Drew Wilson could see the change from his vantage point at the other end of the ice.

“Better chemistry out there. The team is really bonding well,” Wilson said. “We’re shooting better, we’re passing better, we’re just overall playing better this year. With a new coach, it just seems to work well.”

The strong start hit a bit of a bump with a 2-1 loss to neighboring rival Rockland in the first round of the Cashman Tournament. But a little more than a month later the Green Wave got their revenge, a 3-2 victory that was their first against Rockland in five years.

“Ever since that game [on Dec. 26] we were all talking about it, we wanted them again bad,” McDonald said.

Abington is 9-5-3 following Wednesday’s 1-1 tie with Cardinal Spellman. It was a bit of a letdown coming off the high of Sunday’s clincher, but also an indicator of how much the expectations have changed.

“Everyone has each other’s backs here,” McCarthy said. “Last year we got down on each other and everyone was pointing the finger at everyone else. [Now we] take losses like men and move on to the next one.”

With three games left in the regular season, the focus is on getting a high seed in the D3 South tourney. Abington did reach the postseason two years ago, even winning a tournament game against Sacred Heart before falling to powerful Hanover.


“Special things can happen in any game, so we’ve got high hopes,” Woodford said. “We’re going to keep working and getting better, up until the last buzzer.”

Regardless of what happens the rest of this season, Woodford and the seniors hope they have set the tone going forward, so that the “wave” on their program’s graphic doesn’t drop back down again.

“I feel like for years to come this program is going to run even better than it has in the past,” Wilson said. “It just looks really bright for all our players and all our coaching staff.”

Ice chips

■  The Canton Ice House will host the third Hockey Fights Cancer Day on Saturday in memory of Reo Todesca , mother of Xaverian assistant Paul Todesca and a friend to the Canton and Westwood hockey communities.

The day will begin with Westwood taking on Norwood at 1:50 p.m., followed by Blue Hills vs. Bellingham at 3:55. Xaverian will host Framingham in the day’s final game at 6 p.m.

In the first two years, Hockey Fights Cancer has raised more than $50,000 and established the Reo Todesca Memorial Foundation, which benefits cancer research programs that provide patients and families with prevention, screening, treatments and support.

T-shirts will be given out before each game to fans making any donation over $10. In addition, there will be a silent auction, chuck-a-puck, raffles, and more. All proceeds from the night will be donated to the American Cancer Society and the Reo Todesca Memorial Foundation.


■ Canton’s 43-game unbeaten streak was snapped with Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to Lincoln-Sudbury. It was the longest such run in Massachusetts boys’ hockey in more than three decades, but fell well short of Northeast’s 57 games without a loss from 1986-1989, believed to the boys’ state record.

The only other recent run that came close was BC High’s 36-game win streak that spanned most of the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons.

■   One other streak to watch over the final week of the regular season is Westwood’s 37-year run of qualifying for the postseason. The Wolverines took a big step Wednesday by beating Ashland, and at 8-7-2 overall need just two points in their last three games.

Several other Eastern Mass. teams already have secured another berth in their respective postseason streaks: Falmouth (28), Latin Academy (27), Norwell (23), Austin Prep (22), Marshfield (22) and Shawsheen (20).

■   Plymouth North’s 4-2 victory Wednesday night against Quincy, coupled with Duxbury’s loss to Hanover, gave the Blue Eagles the Patriot League Keenan Division title, their first of any kind since 1992 in the Old Colony League before the Plymouth North/South split. Duxbury had won or shared a league title each of its previous eight seasons since rejoining the Patriot, which split into two divisions in 2013-14.

Games to Watch

Saturday, Austin Prep vs. Reading (at Falmouth Ice Arena, 5 p.m.) — It’s the opening round of the Buddy Ferreira Classic, where the crosstown rivals have met three times in the previous four years after going more than three decades without crossing paths on the ice.


Saturday, Plymouth North vs. Hopkinton (at Martha’s Vineyard Arena, 5 p.m.) — Both teams should be high seeds in the Division 2 and 3 South brackets, respectively, but they get a tournament taste in the first round of the Fairleigh Dickinson Tournament on the island.

Saturday, Framingham at Xaverian (at Canton Ice House, 6 p.m.) — The Flyers and Hawks look like good bets for Super Eight selections, but wins down the stretch will be critical for seeding purposes.

Monday, Boston Latin at Canton (at Canton Ice House, 1 p.m.) — Another Merrimack Valley/Dual County 2 power takes aim at the defending Division 2 state champion Bulldogs.

Monday, Catholic Memorial at Malden Catholic, 5 (at Malden Valley Forum, 5 p.m.) — While the host Lancers make their push for the playoffs, a win or tie would give the Knights their first outright Catholic Conference championship in 10 seasons.

Jim Clark can be reached at jim.clark@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @In_the_Slot.