Last season, the Oliver Ames hockey team did something that hadn’t been done since the 1980’s – advance to the Division 2 South sectional semifinal.
One year later, under interim head coach Jim Sullivan, the Tigers made a return trip to the South semis where they fell to Franklin for the second year in a row back on March 9 in Bourne.
With a record of 13-5-4 (8-2-3 Hockomock League, 5-0-1 Davenport Division) OA earned a second place finish in the Davenport Division behind perennial Hock power Canton and recorded one of its best seasons in recent memory.
Much of that success is contributed to this year’s senior class – Derek Johnson, Alex Weibler, Dylan Burns, Matt Carroll, Nate Studholme and captains Ryan McGrath and Drew Koeppel – who helped the team overcome the early season adversity and earned the right to be put in the discussion as one of the league powers along with Canton, Franklin and Mansfield.
“You hate to see goodbye and you hate to say next year,” Sullivan said after the season ending 4-1 loss to Franklin. “This senior group here…they really took it hard. I commend all seven seniors. They did a good job stepping up, especially with the freshmen coming in.”
One of those freshmen, however, stepped up made an immediate impact.
With the daunting task of replacing all-Hock goaltender MacKenzie Shalin, freshman Jimmy Tiereny filled the void nicely and posted four shutouts on the year while allowing just 43 goals in 23 contests. Tierney’s completed his first season with a 36-save performance in a losing effort in the south semis.
“We wouldn’t be here without the goalie,” Sullivan said about his freshman netminder. “We didn’t expect him to step up like this in his first year. He was tremendous.”
With Tierney's bright future between the pipes, the direction of the OA hockey program has nowhere to go but up.
Other notable returnees next season include tri-captain Sean Kyne, Andrew Mancini, Tyler Provost, Justin Davidner, Kyle Hayes and Corey McLaughlin, just to name a few.
Despite having three different head coaches the last three years, OA has planted the seeds for a good foundation going forward.
It’s only appropriate that the Tigers are back in the discussion among Hockomock League powers, much like it was during the 1970’s – in the Jim Craig era – and the early-to-mid 80’s.