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Central Mass Hockey Enjoys Home Ice in Bay State Games

Friday, July 13, 2012

 

A late addition to the team, Blackstone Valley Tech's Connor Byrnes has drawn rave reviews from coach Al Mucci.

The Central Mass boys hockey team will not have to travel far for this year's Bay State Games.

The team, comprised of high school stars from around the region, has just begun a weekend that will see it compete in at least five games against some of the best players in Massachusetts. All games are being played in Marlborough at the New England Sports Center. Things began for Central Mass with a dominating 12-1 win over Coastal last night. It was a break-out game for Hudson star Jeff Hamelin, who paced the team with five goals.

Coach Al Mucci is in his 11th year coaching boys hockey in the Bay State Games, and believes this year's team has the talent to make some real noise in the tournament.

"I think I have a lot of strong players," Mucci said. "I don't think we have any one superstar, but we have a bunch of guys that can really play and work hard. I think we're going to be pretty tough this year."

Mucci's team features five players from the talented Auburn High School hockey team, including Joe Fahey, a rising senior left winger that believes the team is coming together nicely, given limited practice time.

"It's my first Bay State Games and I'm really excited," Fahey said. "We've been skating together and we're trying to find what works and what doesn't.. It's going well."

Mucci said he expects to have a balanced attack, but believes his offensive leader will be Worcester Academy standout Joe Caico, who led the team with 8 points (3G, 5A) in last night's win. Last year, Caico missed the Bay State Games after tearing his LCL. Now, with a fully recovered knee, Caico is excited for the chance to finally face the Commonwealth's best players.

Goalie Rob Labonte of St. Mark's in Southborough is expected to anchor a stout defense for Central Mass.

"(Last year) I had six weeks where I just couldn't do anything. I literally couldn't even walk around," Caico said. "So I'm definitely looking forward to it. Hockey's my favorite sport, and I'm always excited to get a chance to compete."

While Caico is expected to lead the offense, Mucci believes the strength of his team will be on the defensive end. He feels that Hudson's Bryan Carter and Marlborough's Kyle Carlson are stellar defenders, and loves his talented 1-2 punch in net of Robert LaBonte of St. Mark's and Auburn's Evan Lockwood.

LaBonte heads into his junior season, and believes the competition and exposure of the Bay State Games will help advance his playing career.

"I love it," LaBonte said. "It's a great tournament, great exposure and a lot of fun. It's much better than most summer leagues, and you're playing against the best players in the state. We took bronze last year, and we think we can compete improve on that this year." 

 

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