WALPOLE, Mass. – Walpole Express Head Coach Jon Lounsbury compared the EHL team’s current scoring problems to a baseball player’s batting slump: plenty of at bats yet still questions of when the next hit will arrive.
But there is one important difference: the Express players aren’t worried about production. The Express have had no problem keeping the puck out of the net thanks to league-leading goalies Evan McCarthy (Castle Rock, CO) and former league MVP Kyle Shaprio (Ocean City, NJ). The team’s problem, at least in October, was finding its offense. The Walpole boys sit at the bottom of the league in goals-for.
"It’s tough not to look at our production when trying to figure out what’s going wrong,” Lounsbury said. “Offensive-zone time, shots on goal, shot attempts, and chances for and against are some of the key stats coaches examine to judge how their team is playing. We have played really well in some games, but in others we have lacked in compete level.”
Lounsbury points to a few key players who are currently experiencing the dreaded slump. “Tyler Colacchio (Bellingham, MA) hasn't scored in 15 straight games, the longest drought of his career,” he said. “Fortunately for the Express Tyler still has been able to deliver eight assists. Frankie Cefalu (Buffalo, NY), another offensive catalyst, has been snake bitten with only three goals in 15 games.”
It’s easy to look at stats and say a player isn’t producing. But that’s not the case with the Express. “We are just waiting on a few bounces to go our way and the floodgates will open,” Lounsbury said in October. “We work incredibly hard in practice so we know good things are on the horizon. We just need to be patient.”
Patience has paid off thus far this month. Walpole started November off 1-1, beating the NJ Titans in overtime (and losing to the Valley Warriors the following day). Something finally clicked for the Express as they headed into their first rivalry game against the Hartford Wolfpack. The team battled hard and came back twice to send the game into overtime. With the score notched at two a piece, Rudy Carson (Takoma Park, MD) skated end to end making a drop pass to Alex Corvi (Barrington, RI) who buried a slapshot for the game winner. Finally, the team had the mental boost it needed to push deeper into the season.
On Friday, Nov. 15 the Express traveled to Brewster, NY where they found themselves in the hole early against a physical Apple Core squad. But with the tremendous win of the Wolfpack contest fresh in their minds, the Express played with supreme confidence and cohesiveness. Down 5-3, the Express scored three unanswered goals to upend a red-hot NY team. Carson scored his first of the season -- the game winner -- as the Express walked away with a 6-5 victory.
On Saturday morning both teams again squared up and once again the Express found themselves in the hole 3-1 off some bad bounces. Not ready to throw in the towel, the Walpole boys battled back. Andrew Amick (Columbia, MD) started the scoring with his first of the season. Midway through the second period Jamie Young (Russell, OH) found the back of the net with a blast from the point. The Express never looked back. Parker Sanderson (Bangor, ME) provided the game-tying goal after he forced a turnover in the offensive zone. With 10 minutes left to play, Cody Rodrigue (Lewiston, ME) found an open Bryan Nelson (Upton, MA) at the point. Nelson sent a missile to the net and Matt Michie (Port Coquitlam, BC) was nailed the rebound for the game winner.
“Players came up big this weekend,” Lounsbury said. “Cefalu had 4 assists, Conor Ferrera (Manhattan Beach, CA) had 2 goals and 2 assists, and Matt Gaetz (Mississauga, ON) chipped in with a few points, as well. We have a special group of guys and things are starting to click. I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
For up-to-date stats on the Express please visit: http://easternhockey.stats.pointstreak.com/teamplayerstats.html?teamid=387635&seasonid=11113