After going winless in first three games, the Falcons seem to be back on track
December 12, 2012
It took some time — a little more than three games, to be exact — but after yet another roster overhaul this offseason, the Farmington High hockey team seems to be finding it stride.
How far will it take the Falcons?
Well, with the way the playoffs are scheduled this season, coach Mark Vellucci is hoping there’s no need to go far, at all.
“We host the pre-regional, the regional final and the quarterfinal,” he said with a laugh. “Hopefully, we get to play a lot of home games here, come playoff time.”
The postseason is still far enough away, and talking to Vellucci and some of his players, it’s clear the main focus right now centers on the next day’s game or practice, whatever comes first.
“Right now, with this team, you have to take things one day at a time,” said senior forward Nick Gensheimer. “That’s huge for us, because things are really starting to come together.”
After graduating 10 players from last year’s team, and 24 total throughout the past two years, the current winter began with a bit of rebuilding in mind.
The play seemed to follow suit early on.
The Falcons opened the season with three straight losses, getting outscored 15-3.
Since then, though, the guys are 3-1-0 and have scored 20 goals.
“We’ve gotten better over the past four games,” Vellucci said. “We’re getting some additional scoring, and once guys identified their roles more specifically, things have been much better. … We’re still figuring a lot out, but we’re heading in the right direction.”
“We’re becoming more of a team, both on and off the ice,” defenseman DJ Rankin said. “I think we all came into the year knowing there could be a slower start, but it was something we had to weather and play through. A lot of it fell to us captains, just keeping these guys going, keeping the work up.”
Vellucci knew his top line would have to shoulder the load for a while, and it has.
Gensheimer and Cooper McLean are tied for the team lead with six goals each. But it’s little coincidence that, as the other lines have picked up their play, the wins started adding up.
“We’re an above-.500 team once we get everything in gear,” Vellucci said. “There’s still some high expectations with this group.”
Namely, an Oakland Activities Association Red Division title.
“The confidence is here to do something like that,” Rankin said.
Beyond the regular season, though, Vellucci feels like his team has as good a shot as any to make some noise, come playoff time.
The Falcons host the first three rounds of the postseason and moved to Division 3 for the first time.
“It’s going to be fun, in the league and playoffs,” Vellucci said. “There’s some good teams out there, and once we’re healthy and on track, I think we can be one of them.”