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Northbridge/Nipmuc Hockey Ready for Stretch Run

The Northbridge hockey co-op, which includes five players from Nipmuc, began the week with a 5-8-2 record and a chance at a spot in the postseason. In a year marred by injuries, head coach Greg Ostopowich is optimistic about his team's chances. "If we play well, we can pull this off," he said. "We need to win four out of five to finish the year but it is definitely possible based on our schedule."
The Rams have been a resilient bunch this season, weathering injuries to two players who figured to play major roles in the teams success.
"We don't have the depth to sustain those kinds of losses, but still the kids have been competitive, even in our losses," he said. "We have had a few one-goal losses, which hurts. It's hard not to think of what could have been if we had stayed healthy."
Northbridge blanked Gardner/Murdock 2-0 last Saturday. The stretch run began with Wednesday's tilt against Nashoba and continues Saturday against Tyngsboro/Greater Lowell. Senior Michael Ferraro, a Northbridge resident, has been the team's leading scorer with 26 points on 12 goals and 14 assists. Brett Bibeault, a sophomore from Uxbridge, began the week with 11 goals and nine assists.
"We have a number of very good scorers," said Ostopowich. "We need to continue to advance the puck to the next zone and become more proficient in our passing game. That's the tactical thing we are emphasizing, we need to move the puck more quickly and get those guys free in the passing game."
The Northbridge co-op, which also includes players from Uxbridge and Sutton, has gotten a boost from its Nipmuc contingent. Junior defenseman Tyler Costello has five assists on the season and has been a strong presence on the blue line. "He plays like a veteran," said Ostopowich. "He's been with the team for three years and logs a lot of ice time for us. We use him in even strength, on the penalty kill, and on the power play. His best attribute is how he handles the puck."
Sophomore Kayla Peabody is the first girl the program has had in its history. The younger sister of last year's leading scorer, Tyler Peabody, she hails from a hockey family and has more than held her own this season. Freshman Jack Meath, sophomore Drew Cannistraro, and senior Drew Franzosa round out the Nipmuc quintet.
"Meath is a good freshman for us, he has played a lot of minutes," said Ostopowich. "Cannistraro has earned a lot more minutes because he's worked so hard. Franzosa is a good skater and a kid who just loves the game of hockey."
Ostopowich is hopeful that group can help Northbridge finish strong and earn a spot in the playoffs. He wants his team focused on small victories, rather than the bigger picture. "We need to keep our discipline and be focused on the game at hand," he said. "We need to win one period after another. Don't think about all five games, just play a good period. If you play three good periods in a row, that's a game, and that's one win down."




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