The Rockport hockey team has heard the talk about it entering this season.
After graduating just one senior from a team that made it all the way to the sectional semifinals last winter, Rockport appears to be a contender in Division 3 North. On paper the Vikings have the talent to play with just about anybody and the big game experience to go with it.
But there’s one team that’s not buying into the hype, the Vikings themselves.
“On paper we are looking good,” Fifth year head coach Derek Papalegis said. “But we like to throw away the paper so we can prove it on the ice. We have to show up every night if we want to take our game to the next level. We know what it’s like to play and win in the tournament and we want to put Rockport hockey on the map this season. But we have a lot of work to do to get to that point and we know it.”
The Vikings, who finished last season with a 13-6-2 record qualifying for the Division 3 North Semifinals before falling to Bedford, have familiar faces all over the lineup.
The team’s entire first line of senior captains Conor Douglass, Mike Tupper and junior Jake O’Maley return after a wildly successful season last winter. Douglass is just 15 points away from 100 career points while Tupper enters the season with 60 career points.
The Vikings second line of senior captain Josh Guertin, Alex Amoroso and John Tucker is also back for more this season.
Jon Ferrante and Kyle Edmonds return on the defensive end while Colby Foster returns as the team’s starting net minder for the fourth straight season. With 34 career wins Foster needs 11 to tie the school’s all time wins record of 45.
The Vikings open on Saturday at Swamspcott (3:00 p.m., Salem State) and the team has done all it can to come into the opener prepared. Rockport had a slate of tough scrimmages this preseason against Danvers, Lynnfield and Haverhill, winning the latter two this weekend. Papalegis was pleased with the improvements he saw from the first scrimmage to the last.