, Gloucester, MA


February 8, 2009

Surprising Vikings headed to state tourney

GLOUCESTER — As the Rolling Stones song says: "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need."

That saying held true yesterday for the Rockport hockey team in their matchup with Amesbury. The Vikings didn't get the win they wanted, but they got the 2-2 tie they needed to qualify for the Division 3 state tournament. Rockport (8-6-2) will be playing in the postseason for the first time in eight years (2000-2001).

"I'm so proud of this team," Vikings head coach Derek Papalegis said. "I'm most proud because they've earned it. There have been two full generations of players to play here and not play in the post season, these guys have a lot to be proud of."

For Rockport senior tri-captain Sean Golden, who had never experienced a winning season in hockey until now, it's a dream come true.

"It feels unbelievable, one of the best feelings I have felt playing sports," Golden said. "We fought hard for this every game and to make it is incredible, I'm ecstatic."

Junior tri-captain Pat Hoffman says the Vikings success is all about a change in attitude. Hoffman says the team got too used to losing, and credits Papalegis for turning it around.

"Coach Papalegis told us at the beginning of the year that winning is a habit, and we took that to heart," Hoffman said. "At the beginning of the season we didn't believe we could do this, but once we started to believe in ourselves it all turned around, every game was winnable. It's sort of unbelievable knowing what it feels like."

Papalegis echoed Hoffman's sentiment.

"I think they got used to losing and it was ok to them," Papalegis said. "But they turned it around and motivated themselves, they are a great group of kids."

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