For most winter sports last year, their season ended differently than usual. This year the season will start differently. To help prevent spreading COVID-19, some winter sports will not be competing this year, others will be competing against a smaller pool of teams, having a smaller attendance if any, wearing a mask during competition, and many more obstacles.
“This season is really a championship or bust for our team. From the first practice the tone was set that this is the year to win it all… I believe this is the best team we’ve had talent wise,” said key player, Andy Carlson (‘22). Coming off an impressive 12-5-1 record during the 2019-2020 season, the Oyster River boys hockey team has hopes to win a state championship. Last season, the Bobcats were on a promising run defeating top teams St. Thomas, Keene, and Dover. The team lost a couple key players, Declan Daubney (‘20) and Eric Donovan (‘20), but gained a new key player, Michael Szymanski (‘21). Szymanski has lots of experience playing at high levels, like the Seacoast Spartans, making him a helpful addition to the team. “I’m currently practicing on a line with Michael and it’s just impressive to watch him play hockey. His brain processes the game at an advanced level and his skill is just absurd,” said Carlson. He continued to say, “From the few practices we’ve had so far I think his knowledge of the game is wearing off on everyone else and making the team better.” With the addition of Szymanski, and returning key players, Alden Swiesz (‘21), and Jack Poitras (‘22), the boys are looking to win their first championship in Oyster River’s history. The Bobcats will kick off the season on the road against Winnacunnet on January 16th, at the Rinks at Exeter.
The past two seasons for the Clippercats have been very successful. Last year, the girls posted a 12-4-1 record before losing in the semifinals to Berlin. The girls lost key players Lilli Poitras (‘20), Anna Mazza (‘20), and Laura Dreher (‘20), however, Clippercats player, Kyra Brummage (‘22), said it has only given the team more motivation. “Losing key players has impacted our team, but it has definitely made us work harder.” She went on to say, “the effort we have put in should be prevalent on the ice this year.” Despite losing the seniors from last year, the Oyster River-Portsmouth girls hockey team is hoping to prove they’re still a top team by keeping a winning record like last year. The Clippercats play their home opener against Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge on January 23rd, at Dover Ice Arena.
With the addition of a new coach with a play style that fits the boys’ fast paced offense well, the Oyster River boys basketball team is planning to come out strong this season. The Bobcats had a 10-8 record and were named DII boys basketball co-runner up due to COVID-19 ending the playoffs prematurely. The team’s new coach, Lewis Atkins, is hoping to have some new players take leadership this year. “Based on what we have coming back, we are losing Joe and Kyle, and I think they combined for 36 or 38 points per game so that’s a huge chunk of points to be losing to the program,” Atkins said. “We have five or six experienced guys that have played through the gauntlet at Division II the past couple years and I think they’re ready to give a shot to play this year and have a good fire in the offense.” The boys will play their season opener on January 14th at Sanborn.
Last season, the girls had a disappointing 0-18 record, but despite the fact that the Oyster River girls basketball team will only have one senior on the roster this season, the girls are going to play their best and have fun. “We have a young team again this year, so it’s going to be challenging, but at the end of the day I think we are all just happy that we get to play and have a season,” said Carissa Miller (‘21). “We are only playing local teams and fans are limited to parents, not to mention we are playing with masks, so the season is already feeling very different.” Although this season will look different for the Bobcats, Miller says there’s some upside to the years to come. “There have been a couple changes. We have a new assistant coach, Mrs. Best, who I think is going to be super beneficial to us this year given her background. She was a post player in college and our team really needs work on our post offense and defense, so she has been super helpful.” Not only do the girls have a new assistant coach, but they also have some new freshmen with talent. The Bobcats play their first game of the season vs. Sanborn on January 15th, at home.
With a new coach, Daryn Gladstone, the ski team is in a good position to improve off of last season. Owen Mueller (‘21), a top skier on the boys team mentioned the team’s first practice with Coach Gladstone. “Our first time training this year he actually wore slalom gear and trained with us in the course to coach. Not a lot of coaches would do that,” Mueller said. “It’s awesome to have a new coach who brings a lot of experience and knowledge about the sport. He will play a huge role in developing the younger athletes who haven’t raced before.” Some skiers to keep an eye out for are Mueller, Holly Reid (‘21), and Nico Colarusso (‘22). Reid placed 6th for the girls while Mueller placed 6th and Colarusso placed 9th for the boys, sending them all to the Meet of Champions last year. The Bobcats first race is tomorrow, January 13th, starting at 10:15 a.m.