By Conor Walsh
---- — For the first time in two decades, this winter we saw a meeting between the two Cape Ann hockey programs.
Gloucester routed Rockport, which co-ops with Manchester Essex and Ipswich, to erase any doubt about which team remains the area’s king.
In that game, which came in the middle of middling seasons for each program, one couldn’t help but wonder what could be if the teams were combined. Both the Fishermen and Vikings struggled with depth throughout the season. We figured we’d eliminate that problem and put together a Cape Ann Dream Team.
First Line — LW Pete Mondello, Gloucester; C Alex Webb, Gloucester; RW Mike Tupper, Rockport.
For anyone who saw these two teams play as regularly as The Gloucester Times did, this first line is a no-brainer. Three seniors, three captains, three studs.
We’ll start with Webb and Mondello, who were in a different class than their teammates in terms of offensive talent from the time the season began.
They started out the season on the same line, but with Gloucester’s limited depth and injuries — which forced Webb to the point for a good chunk of the year — they rarely saw the ice at the same time, as coach Don Lowe sought to spread the scoring wealth.
They’d be reunited on the top line of our Cape Ann squad, though, and the Fishermen’s top two scorers — Webb with 11-6-17 and Mondello with 9-10-19 — would certainly feed off one another.
Both Webb and Mondello played similar styles, coupling speed through the neutral zone with an ability to mix it up in front of the net.
Throw in Tupper, the area’s leading scorer with 17 goals and 14 assists, on the off-wing, and we’d be looking at a downright lethal top line. Tupper plays with the same intensity as Webb and Mondello with even more of an edge, and throwing the lefty on the right wing would allow him to more easily unleash shots both on the break and with the team set up.
This would be a scary group.
Second Line — LW Casey Noyes, Gloucester; C Alex Amoroso, Rockport; RW Conor Douglass, Rockport.
A solid second line that brings this squad exactly what you’re looking for out of a second line: speed, explosiveness and a two-way game.
Before Douglass’s season-ending injury in the two teams’ meeting in late January, he had established himself as the area’s most dangerous sniper. And in his time skating alongside Amoroso, the two seniors proved to be quite the tandem.
Amoroso was probably the area’s best set-up man, piling up 22 assists, and while he potted just four goals, he wouldn’t be relied on much as a scorer on this line, especially with a speedster skating the left wing in Noyes (eight goals and four assists).
Speed, skill and three-zone play. Your classic second line.
Third Line — LW Jon Tucker, Rockport; C Josh Guertin, Rockport; RW Cam DeCoste, Gloucester (with Gloucester’s Matt Lane mixing in as the 10th forward).
Everything you’re looking for out of a checking line, starting with Tucker and DeCoste, who play the perfect third-liner’s game for this kind of team.
Both have the skill to be skating top-6 minutes, but their attitude and grittiness makes them more effective in a third line situation.
They can both put up points, combining for 23 points this season, and proved plenty willing to mix it up in all three zones. Throw Guertin, who really came into his own as a well-rounded threat as the season wore on with 11 goals and 13 helpers, in the middle, and you’ve got yourself a third line that will give opponents fits and provide some solid secondary scoring.
Finally, we felt it necessary to throw Lane into the mix on this third line, too. With a similar game to that of Noyes, Lane can fly through the neutral zone and play a pesky little game. He’d definitely see some minutes on this squad.
First D Pairing — Mike Muniz, Gloucester; Jon Ferrante, Rockport.
Like the first line of forwards, this one’s kind of a no-brainer.
Muniz, a senior captain, is the kind of defenseman that any high school coach would want on his squad. He’s big, tough, physical and smart, and his bomb from the point makes him a scoring threat both in five-on-five and power play situations.
Mix in the steady Muniz with a more offensive-minded Ferrante, and you’ve got yourself a dangerous pairing. Ferrante, a junior, was clearly Rockport’s best two-way defenseman and piled up seven goals and nine assists, both leading all area defensemen.
While his offensive identity can sometimes take away from his defense, that wouldn’t be much of an issue with Muniz on his left. This is a duo that could log a ton of minutes, and whenever they’re out there, a coach would be at ease.
Second D Pairing — Ryan Whittemore, Gloucester; Kyle Nelson, Rockport.
Nothing flashy with these two, but that’s not really what you’re looking for with your second pairing.
This would be the pinnacle of steadiness. Whittemore, a senior this year, played a ton of minutes for a Gloucester team with a thin blue line, and while those minutes occasionally caught up to him, a smaller workload on this squad would definitely benefit him.
He’s physical, solid on the rush and makes good outlet passes. And with a bruising sophomore in Nelson alongside Whittemore, this second pairing would be no joke.
Goaltender — Colby Foster, Rockport.
This was a tough decision, as this spot could easily have gone to Gloucester sophomore Owen Parisi, who enjoyed success despite Gloucester’s more difficult schedule. Ultimately, though, Foster’s experience and steadiness won out.
The senior did whatever was asked for him for the Vikings. In blowouts, he made the saves. In tighter games, he often kept them in it. And as you saw in the team’s win over Wayland in the Division 3 North first round, Foster has the ability to steal a team a game.
With that consistency coupled with the talent he’d have in front of him on this squad, and there’s little doubt Foster would be all this team needed and more.