Three is the magic number for the Sandwich High School girls’ ice hockey team.
The answer is simple. Goaltender Sophia Visceglio allowed two or fewer goals in 19 of the 23 games that the Lady Knights played last year. The all-star goalie finished the year with a save percentage of better than .930 and helped lead the squad to a 17-5 regular season record. She stopped 45 in a row before finally giving one up in a 1-0 loss to Falmouth in the state tournament last winter.
With one of southeastern Massachusetts’ premier goaltenders in net, the Knights should be just fine this season as long as they can score three goals per game. If they can get to three, they’ll win a lot more than they lose. Last year they averaged just under four per outing.
Actually, two will be enough a lot of nights. With Visceglio, and the defense around her doing their job, it is difficult for the other team to find the back of the cage. Sandwich allowed just 1.21 goals against for the season.
For Sandwich, it all starts with the sophomore Visceglio, who patrols the crease with purpose. She covers ground post to post speedily, and has a knack for putting herself in position to make saves.
“She’s the backbone of our team,” coach Steve Noll said. “This is her third year for us in the net, and she’s just gotten better and better.”
The defense is really good as well. Sandwich plays a well-structured game in its own end and makes the opposition work. When it does make a mistake, it rarely comes back to haunt the team because of the strength between the pipes.
Sophomore Olivia O’Brien and senior Molly Dwyer return to lead the defense. O’Brien is a solid all-round player as is Dwyer, who is one of the captains for the club. Freshman Megan Barrett is back for her second year with the varsity on defense. A good puck-mover, she was in the team’s top-four defensive group as an 8th grader a year ago.
Speaking of 8th graders, two hope to help bolster the defense on the back end. Darby Rounseville and Emma Itri will debut this winter with the Knights. Coach Noll said that both are ready to play at this level and will see time on special teams for the team throughout the season.
Up front two of the top three forwards from a year ago are back to try to be even better than they were a season ago. Paige Hawkins, a junior, and Maura McIver, a senior, have a connection on the ice and plenty of experience playing alongside one another. They were two of the team’s top scorers last year as they combined speed and precision to make life difficult for their foes.
Who plays with them up front, or makes up the other two lines, remains to be seen. Coach Noll said that he believes that the offense will be three lines deep and skilled.
Seven forwards will take up those remaining spots. Where they fall will play out along the way. “The way I see it, it’s really that they should all be interchangeable parts,” the coach said. “We mix up lines all of the time. What’s a line today might not be in the second period. It’s always changing.”
Three juniors are in that group, with Caroline Barrett, Sidney Sawyer and Lily Tobin all ready to make contributions to the cause. Sophomores Makenna Clark and Emily Souke are in that group of players, as is freshman transfer Adriana Kelsh and 8th grader Alli Kent.
“We have some talented players that are young,” the coach said.
Two reserves will be ready to hit the ice when called upon. Natalie Johnston will fill in on defense and Brittany Quarentei will see time at a forward spot.
“I think that we figure that we’ll be stingy giving up goals and that we have some of the top speed of any group on the Cape and islands,” Noll said.
SHS should contend for the top of the Cape and Islands League for the abbreviated season. Their biggest challenges should come from Falmouth and Barnstable.