Boys’ Hockey: One Goal Down, One to Go

The Spartans Head North to KUA for the NEPSAC Semifinals

Groton, MA — [ Photos | Video ] Given the nature of coaching and athletes, there is good and bad that comes after a 10-3 victory; never mind such a lopsided win in a division-clinching game. Keeping a team’s motivation high, through the highs and lows of a long season, can be difficult.

For example, there’s a reason that NHL teams do not even touch the conference championship trophies on their way to the Stanley Cup Final – it’s not the top prize.

After the Spartans 10-3 ISL Keller Division-clinching win last Saturday over Tabor — en route to a NEPSAC playoffs berth announced on Sunday — LA head coach Robbie Barker ’00 was asked how he would keep his students motivated going into the New England Tournament.

“Anytime you win the ISL it’s something special,” admitted the former Spartan standout. “Its a tough thing to accomplish, so yes I’d say its very satisfying.

“The ISL was one of our team goals this year, and with any list of goals, you enjoy it for the time being [when it’s achieved] and then you move on to your next objective.”

But Barker quickly added:

“This isn’t a group that needs much help in getting motivated or staying motivated. Playoffs are playoffs, and anyone who has experienced playing in playoffs knows that if you can get up for a game at this stage of the season, you should probably find a new sport.”

Robbie Barker ’00, Lawrence Academy Boys’ Ice Hockey Head Coach

On Wednesday, there were moments in the Spartans 2-1 overtime victory where fans might have questioned some of the squad’s on-ice decisions (there were a whole lot of blue shirts in the box all night), but nobody doubted LA’s commitment.

And, looking forward to a championship-sending “scrimmage” with the Lakes Region Champion Kimball Union Wildcats, Barker didn’t think his — or his team’s — approach should change.

“At this point in the season, you can’t focus too much on what your opponent’s tendencies are, but instead focus on what you can control and implement the strategies and systems that got you here,” he said, pointing out how difficult it is to be consistent over the length of the hockey season. “Winning the ISL, I have always said, is harder than winning New Englands.

“In the ISL you need to play well for three months, and during New Englands, it’s a one done, so it’s anyone’s game,” said Barker.

“The boys have proved all year that they were a top team in the best high school hockey league in the United States, and I couldn’t be more proud of this group.”

Coach Barker

Moreover, that pride remains evident on-and-off campus, given the sheer numbers of well-wishes the boys have received in the wake of both victories.

“The amount of text messages I have received from our alumi over the past two weeks has been remarkable,” said Robbie. “Guys I’ve never coached to guys I coached for four years.

“It’s a great feeling knowing that we are continuing the tradition.

“I love this program, the past players, and this group of kids and couldn’t be more proud to be part of the Spartan hockey family – Family First.”

Good luck to the boys’ ice hockey Spartans!