New look Rams ready for second half

Closing out the 2012 year could have been the best thing that happened to the Framingham State Rams this season. Head coach T.J. Brown and his club started out the first half of the 2012-13 campaign with nine losses in 10 games, which put the Rams dead last in the MASCAC standings.

For any program to start out with a 1-9 record, the sense of panic — or even a lost season — could have already settled in.  Not for Brown and his Rams, though. If anything, the closing of the first half of the season could have awakened a team ready to make a second half run.

“Obviously, we didn’t have the start we were hoping for,” said Brown, who is in his fourth season as head coach of the Rams. “The first half was a big disappointment, but with our league, there is no time to hang your head. There are points on the line every night, and we know we have a lot of hockey to play.”

Before their first game back after the break, the Rams closed out the first half of the season on a five-game losing streak. It was a perfect time for not only Brown, but the rest of the club to step away, take a breath, and reevaluate things.

“I don’t think we ever panicked, but we certainly have to be aware of the hole we put ourselves in,” added Brown. “We knew we would probably add a guy or two at the break that could help us. You just take the break to get away from the rink for a little bit and try to come back fresh and with a positive attitude for the second half push.”

That break was exactly what the Rams needed. In their first game to kick off 2013 and the second half of their season, a recharged Framingham State hit the road to take on NE-10 opponent Franklin Pierce. The Rams, knowing how poorly the first half of the season went, came out hungry and defeated the Ravens, 5-4, to capture their first win of the second half.

“The Franklin Pierce game was a nice win coming out of break,” said Brown. “After the first half we had, I think it was big for the guys to come out fast and get off on a positive note for the second half. There were times in the season when we blew a lead and might have felt sorry for ourselves. Saturday night, we stayed together and played for each other and it paid off in the end. That was a good team we beat, so hopefully it builds some confidence in the room.”

After Franklin Pierce, which is the second win for Framingham Sate against an NE-10 program, the Rams schedule gets even tougher, with four straight conference games. This is the perfect time, as Brown mentioned, for his team to build on confidence and grab more wins.

Two key players in helping lead the new-look Rams are sophomore forward Ryan MacDonald and junior forward Daniel Miressi. Both are atop the team in scoring, and Brown feels that the way those two play fuels the team’s motivation to go out and compete harder.

“Ryan and Danny are both very gifted offensive players,” Brown said. “It is fun to watch them on an everyday basis. They are getting used to playing together and starting to move the puck very well. The guy who plays center on that line, Brendan McCarron, is the one that makes the line go, though. He is a guy that does everything for us. I think the other guys see the offense they put up and it makes them work that much harder.”

It’s that type of effort that the Rams are going to need night in and night out as they head into MASCAC play. With 12 of their last 13 games all in conference, the Rams are ready to “start over” and make a run for the MASCAC playoffs.

With a new outlook and attitude on the ice, Brown knows that his Rams are ready for the challenge that lies ahead.

“I don’t think there are really any teams that overlook any of the other teams in our league,” explained Brown. “Every night the games can go either way. We have been on the wrong end of some lopsided games in the first half, so I think it’s our job to prove that we belong. There is still two-thirds of the league schedule to play, so there is plenty of time to get points.
It’s just a matter of putting together full-game efforts and winning some of the close ones.”

For a program that has struggled in the past, any chance to start fresh is never a bad thing. In fact, it’s welcomed. The mentality of breaking up the season in half and putting 2012 to bed is a positive message the Rams are ready to take on 2013.
With a win already under their belt, this may not be the same old Framingham State Rams.