EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

March 31, 2013

Looking past the final record

At 4-14-2, Haverhill hockey was a big winner

The winter season is history and the celebrations are over.

The members of the Central Catholic girls basketball team, the Timberlane wrestling team, the North Reading and North Andover basketball teams and anyone else who won league or state championships have, for the most part, turned their attention to other affairs.

For them, and many others like them, the winter season was a rousing success, with the multitude of victories equating to a positive experience that will be remembered for years.

Which is as it should be.

Often forgotten among the hoopla of the winners, however, is that even those teams that don’t have winning records, and often times rarely taste victory at all, can enjoy positive experiences.

There can be, after all, a number of definitions for success.

This all comes to mind because of the Haverhill High hockey team, which just completed a 4-14-2 season. It’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

On the surface, the Hillies’ record on the ice is nothing to be proud of, but it doesn’t do justice to the positives that took place under first-year coach Joe Roberts.

Every team loses some close ones, but the Hillies lost more than their share of heartbreakers, seven games by two goals or less. Even so, despite a particularly young squad, Haverhill improved on a woeful 2-18 mark in 2011-12.

“We set a goal of winning six games this year and making the playoffs next year,” said Roberts. “We didn’t quite make it, but we had a lot of positives and definitely improved during the season.

“Our goals-against improved, our blocked shots went up, our faceoff percentage improved and, the biggest thing was that our plus-minus rate was much better. We really became a much better team.

”We started this (formula) last year, 1-3-100, which stands for one team, three periods and 100 percent and I think we pretty much followed that. We had good kids, no grade problems — no trouble at all — and it was really a positive season.”

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