Dartmouth hockey returns with shaky start, but a team full of potential

Dec 15, 2023

With a larger team stacked with returning players, Dartmouth High School hockey is full of potential this year. 

“We have depth,” said head coach Mark Rossi. “We have five lines of forwards, nine defensemen, three goalies — the numbers are definitely healthy.”

Not only is the bench deep, but the team’s players have spent time together on the rink as linemates, developing chemistry on top of new skill sets. 

“It’s not really even a brand new season,” Rossi said. “It’s a continuation of last year.”

With a team like that, Rossi thinks they have a chance to “go really far” in the Division 2 tournament at the end of the season. Still, the second-year coach doesn’t want to get too ahead of himself. 

“We’re in pretty good shape as far as on paper, that doesn’t always mean it translates to the game,” Rossi said. “We’re trying to set our sights on just one game at a time.”

Each of those games will be a bit more challenging this year. Rossi set up the team with a tougher, revamped schedule for the new season, including Barnstable, Silver Lake Regional and Auburn High Schools. 

“I don't want an easy schedule,” Rossi said. “It doesn’t really serve anybody any purpose of [playing] 20 games, winning 20 or 19 of them and then getting bounced out in the first round of the tournament.”

Instead, players will be “battle tested” by the difficult matchups ahead, hopefully learning to handle some of the speed and physicality that bigger programs bring. 

Dartmouth started its season off with a local game against Old Rochester Regional High School on Dec. 11 at Aleixo Arena in Taunton. The first quarter of the game was played Dec. 9 at Hetland Arena in New Bedford, Dartmouth’s home rink, but a Zamboni problem prevented further play. 

The Indians eventually fell to the Bulldogs 2-4. 

While Rossi said a win against Old Rochester would have felt nice, the game also had some charitable ambitions: a toy drive ran alongside the game, including free admission for fans that brought an unwrapped toy to donate. 

Old Rochester is also a bit less of a rival than Dartmouth’s own Bishop Stang High School, which is back on the schedule for 2023. The Spartans and Indians will face off Jan. 13 at Hetland Arena. 

The boys in green and white dropped their starting record down again on Dec. 13, losing to Barnstable High School’s formidable hockey program. 

But Dartmouth’s program is no slouch either this year: they’ve got 27 players on the roster — nearly too many for one team, but not quite enough for a junior varsity team to break off. Rossi said the crowded field means players are giving 100% in practice, always fighting for a spot as a starter. 

Many of the players are returners, as only three players graduated from the team last year. 

One of those returning players is Ashton Machado, who has become a leader on and off the ice, Rossi said. Machado was recognized by The Standard Times last year as their “Player of the Year,” and it’s clear why to Rossi. 

“If I could have one kid to build the team around, that would be the kid,” Rossi said. “As far as hockey is concerned and goaltending-wise, he’s top tier.”

Dartmouth next faces Westfield High School on Dec. 16 at 5:30 p.m. for an away game.