By Michael James LeClair

The NRHS hockey team  at practice Sat. night       Mike LeClair
The NRHS hockey team at practice Sat. night Mike LeClair

There’s a new sheriff in town for the Nashoba Regional ice hockey team but he’s no stranger to this squad.

The Chieftains have handed over the reins to new head coach Trevor Short, who replaces Steve Kendall.

“Things have been going really well. We have a lot of good leadership and we’re very team focused rather than individual,” said Short on Saturday evening following the Chieftains practice at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough. “We have a lot of senior leadership and they know what is at stake this year. They have a lot on the line and they want to come out and play well.”

Short has been involved with the Nashoba hockey program since 2006 as the varsity assistant coach and working with the junior varsity players.

Short inherits a squad that finished last winter with a 10-8-4 overall record. Nashoba earned the fifth seed in the Central Mass. Division 3A Tournament and earned a first round victory over host and fourth-seeded Oakmont Regional. The  season came to a close in the semifinals when they team fell to eventual Division 3A State champion North Middlesex Regional at the Wallace Civic Center.

“Everyone’s working hard and they’re all getting along. We have some definite talent for sure, so I think we’re going to be competitive and we’ll be in every game,” said Short, whose squad opens the 2014-2015 winter season on Saturday, Dec. 20 against visiting Fitchburg. “We may not always come out on top but you’re going to see a group that works as hard as possible and they’re going to be in until the end.”

The Chieftains will have to contend with the departure of some key members from last year’s team. Nashoba lost six to graduation, including Devyn Levesque, who was a mainstay between the pipes as one of the top goaltenders in Central Mass.

“Devyn was a great goaltender for this program. He was a 3A All-Star for several years. “It’s tough to replace a goalie like him, but we have confidence in the guys back there this year,” said Short. “We lost some key components from last year but I feel we have the majority of our strong forwards back this year.”

In net, Nashoba will turn to senior Luke Gilchrest and junior Charlie Lamplough. According to Short, Gilchrest is currently penciled in as the team’s starting puck stopper with Lamplough ready to go when needed.

In front of the cage, the Nashoba blue line will be defended by players like junior Brad Colvin and sophomore Bobby Denaro. Juniors Joe Tavis, Joey Spallone, Colin McCormack and Colin Everton, along with sophomore Will Chapman, will also contribute on the defensive end.

Up front, the Chieftains scoring attack will be led by the top offensive line of seniors Kevin Gilchrist, Hunter Boudreau and Jack Charbonneau. The second line will consist of sophomore Mike Magliozzi, junior Matt LeBlanc and classmate Devyn Barrett, while the third line isn’t set in stone. According to Short, he  will turn to PJ Anastas and Dean Anastas, with the third spot still up in the air.

The Chieftains will have a plethora of captains this winter season; five to be exact. Nashoba will look to Brad Colvin, Kevin Gilchrest, Jack Charbonneau, Hunter Boudreau and Luke Gilchrest to carry the torch.

For Short, two games that were circled on the calendar the day the schedule was released were the two battles with Lunenburg High School. Short’s bother, Eric Short, is the head coach of the Blue Knights and when the two squads collide, it should add some excitement to an already intense rivalry.

“The kids know all about those games. Those games are fun; the kids work really hard. Eric has been coaching for almost 15 years and he helps me out a lot,” said Short, whose squad plays a 20-game season. “I look up to Eric and I’ve learned a lot from him; we’re pretty excited.”

The Chieftains enjoy the comforts of home in the early portion of their schedule as four of their first five games are at the New England Sports Center. After an opening night tilt with the Red Raiders on December 20, Nashoba welcomes Oakmont on December 22, Assabet Valley Tech on December 27 and Grafton on New Year’s Eve before hitting the road for eight of its next nine games.

“We have two tough games to start the season; we’re not going to take anyone lightly. All our games are tough, but to open with Fitchburg and Oakmont will be a challenge early on,” said Short. “With us starting on the 20th it gives a little extra time to practice and prepare.”