Chris Peterson looks out onto the ice surface at Tony Kent Arena is South Dennis and can see in his mind’s eye what the Mashpee-Monomoy boys’ ice hockey team is going to look like when – if? – they finally come together for their first practice of the 2021 season.
Peterson, who took over as rink manager at TKA last year, has watched many of his returning players skate at captains’ practices there, and during stick time sessions that the rink hosts. He’s spoken with many of the Monarchs about just how great it is going to be when the team gets going.
Waiting is hard, though. With Monomoy High School moving to full remote before the holidays, none of their athletes have been able to participate in sports. Mashpee High remains open, but without the other half of their partnership available, the kids from the Upper Cape’s MHS are left to hope and pray that Monomoy gets back in the game soon.
Monomoy High School is scheduled, for now, to return to in-school learning on January 11. Until that happens, or unless rules are changed, no athletics can happen while the school is on remote. Meanwhile the Mashpee student-athletes that play with the Monomoy kids are forced to wait. If Monomoy stays on schedule then the Monarchs will be able to practice at Tony Kent on January 11. Needing 10 days of practice before they can play actual games, Peterson said that the team would finally play its first game on January 23. In a normal year that would be the second half of the season and the squad would be hoping to make a charge for the state tournament.
This year there is no state tournament. The Monarchs just hope to get to play some games and participate in the Cape and Islands League tournament.
Getting his players out on the ice is what Peterson wants to see happen as quickly as possible, and that has nothing about getting them ready to compete.
“The biggest thing for me is that some of these kids just really need sports in their life,” Peterson said. “They rely on the structure that being on a team brings. There’s a purpose there. For some of them, without sports, it’s hard to stay focused on what they need to be doing.”
Having that outlet is certainly something that players on both sides of the cooperative could benefit from.
“We are all on the same page that we want to get this season going,” the coach said. “We want to give them the opportunity to do something. We’re not going to play a full season this year, that’s fine. Whatever we do get to play is a win.”
Peterson said that he believes that ice rinks are among the safest places for people to be if they’re outside of their homes. He said that the ventilation inside most rinks, including Tony Kent, is of the highest quality because it has to be for the ice to be maintained.
While the Monarchs players wait for a decision from Monomoy about a return sports, the players are able to get out and skate a bit and work on some skills at “stick times” that Peterson has at the rink. He said he’s seen several members of his team come down to get some work in, as well as players from other Cape programs that were also looking to supplement their practice time while they wait for their schools to come back to playing. In Falmouth and Sandwich, for instance, they will not have to wait until January 23 because they were practicing before the move to remote.
Peterson said that he understands that his program will be way behind others on Cape when they do get on the ice because of the lack of practice time. He said that he has no idea what his team’s lines will look like, or how players will mesh together because he hasn’t seen them play together yet.
“It’s such a weird situation. I need that first week to see what kind of shape that they are in, and where they’re at,” he explained.
The coach said he is looking forward to seeing his seniors get back out on the ice and hopes that they can have a fun, albeit brief season. He noted that captain Jack Vinitsky and fellow senior Owen McGovern, both of Mashpee High, are two of the players he is excited to see get out on the ice and have one final run in a Monarchs sweater.
“I’m excited about what we have. I just want to get this going with my kids and see what we’re working with.”