Aidan Gilligan is optimistic about the future of the Mount Everett High School hockey program, but he's also happy that his Eagle seniors could end their careers having secured at least one victory.
Everett earned its only win of the season on the road Feb. 20, shutting out Amherst 3-0 at Orr Rink. Adam Derwitsch, Peter Lovejoy and Jacob Malicky scored, and Jonah Swotes made 33 saves as the Eagles' seniors earned a win for the first and only time in their careers, according to Gilligan.
"It's huge for the returning players, but even for the seniors," he said. "I think that was validation for the hard work they put in all season. It's great for the returning people to get some confidence."
Gilligan believes that, despite just one win in his first season at the helm, Mount Everett is headed in the right direction.
"The first 10 games, we were letting up over six goals per game and scoring just over three," he said. "The second half of the season, we got much better on the defensive end ... so we closed that gap.
"It was tough losing a lot of one-goal games ... but there's a lot of positive things to come out of the second half of the season."
From Berkshires to Pics
Two Berkshire County players are continuing their hockey careers in the junior ranks in the Pioneer Valley.
Pittsfield's Michael Taylor and North Adams' Dave Senecal are currently on the Empire Division roster of the Springfield Pics of the United States Premier Hockey League.
Senecal, who played for Wahconah last season, is now a defenseman for the Pics (13-23-4). In 39 games, he has picked up nine points, including an assists in a Feb. 25 loss to the Junior Bruins.
Taylor, who played high school hockey for St. Joseph before moving to the junior leagues, has played in 23 games and has scored 12 points, including two goals. One of those goals was a game-winner, scored in Springfield's 5-3 win over the Bay State Breaksers on Nov. 23.
"Mike Taylor's a very knowledgeable and a good two-way player who shoots the puck very well," Pics Empire coach Roger Westbrooks said. "Senecal is very strong [on defense], and one of the best shots around."
Westbrooks scouted both players during their high school careers, and said he liked the heart they showed for their respective Berkshire County teams. He said Taylor is being scouted by a number of area colleges for next season, but that Senecal will return to the Pics next season.
Senecal, Taylor and the rest of the Pics, from the Eastern Conference, open the Empire playoffs at 3:45 p.m. today in Wayne, N.J., in a round-robin game against the Western Conference regular season champion Florida Junior Blades.
Westbrooks said he is still scouting area players, and that interested local players can contact him at (413) 885-9368 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.