The following story appeared in the Lynn Daily Item newspaper on January 4, 2017. Written by Harold Rivera. Reprinted with permission.
Link to original story: https://www.itemlive.com/2018/01/04/still-young-season-westfield-state/
WESTFIELD - The Westfield State men's ice hockey team has work to do this new year as the Owls aim for a playoff push during the closing stretch of their season.
Through their first 10 games of the season, the Owls were 3-6-1 while dropping five of their six games against MASCAC opponents.
But that doesn't mean Lynnfield native Jeremy Young and his Owls teammates don't have high expectations for what's to come during the second half of the season. Young, a senior forward and team captain, is looking to go out on top.
"We're a hard-working team," Young, a former four-year varsity player at Lynnfield High, said. "We play physical and we play hard. We just need to put it all together. If we can put our games together, we're all playing together and we can be successful. We've been struggling to put a full game together. If we can do that in the second half, I think we'll be really good."
Through Westfield State's first 10 games, Young has seen an increase in productivity in comparison to his first three seasons on the team. The senior forward has scored two goals this winter while dishing six assists for a total of eight points.
Young's goal in a Nov. 21 clash against Franklin Pierce was a big piece of the Owl's 4-3 win, and his 3-assist performance on Nov. 2 kept Westfield State in the thick of things in a 7-4 loss to MASCAC rival Salem State.
Being productive on the ice was one of the main goals Young carried on the back of his mind coming into the season.
"I wanted to produce more," Young said. "Growing up, I was always a role player and a two-way forward. This season I wanted to come in and be more offensive and produce for the team. The first half of the season, I think I've definitely reached that. My first three years, I'd end the first half of the season with maybe five points. I'm close to double that now. I'm taking more opportunities to shoot the puck instead of passing it and I think it's worked out."
Aside from making game-changing plays on the ice, Young has also been relied on for leadership. Prior to the start of the season, Young was named an Owls team captain after serving as an assistant captain as a junior last winter.
Young has embraced the leadership responsibilities that come with captaining the team.
"It's a huge accomplishment for me," Young, who captained the hockey team at Lynnfield as a senior, said. "Growing up, I've always been in a leadership role. I was a captain in high school and Coach (Vin Mirasolo) always taught me a lot about how my character and dedication should be. That played a role in how I lead the team now. I like to play as a role model and I want the guys to feed off that. I like to lead by example."
Although the start to the season hasn't gone the way Westfield State hoped it would, the Owls still have plenty of positives they can carry over to the second half. Young feels the team has developed great communication and hopes the Owls can maintain that the rest of the way.
"Both on and off the ice, all the guys get along with each other which is huge," Young said. "Our strength on the ice is our communication. We work on offensive plays a lot in practice. We play hard and physical and that works to our strengths too."
The road to a late-season playoff push won't be an easy one, as the Owls will have to get it done with the bulk of their MASCAC schedule still to come. Westfield State has 15 games remaining and 12 of them are against conference opponents.
"MASCAC is a conference that's improving," Young said. "The level of play is up there now. Every team comes to play and they all want to win. If we continue to play as a team, we can definitely compete with the top teams in the conference.
"I think we need to improve on our ability to put the puck in the net," Young added. "We can be very successful if we put together a full 60 minutes as a team."
Young and the Owls are back on the ice from the holiday vacation with a trip to the North Shore on Saturday afternoon (2) for a clash at Salem State.---
Harold Rivera Harold Rivera is a sports reporter at the Item. Rivera joined the staff in 2016, after serving as an intern in 2015. Prior to joining the Item, Rivera was the sports editor for the Salem State University newspaper, The Log. He graduated from Salem State in 2016. Harold Rivera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org