Interim head coach David Borges has the Stonehill ice hockey team in contention for the NE-10 Championship. (PHOTO BY SportsPix)
David Borges, the former head hockey coach at Coyle-Cassidy High, took over the Stonehill College program just before the opening game and has guided the Skyhawks to a 6-0 record against Northeast-10 Conference opponents and 11-9 overall.
Four days before the start of the Stonehill College hockey season, David Borges went from first-year assistant coach to interim head coach.
The move was made when Pat Leahy, who had been the Skyhawks' head coach for two years, resigned for personal reasons on Oct. 28, and Borges quickly shifted into the main role just before the opening-night game at Southern New Hampshire on Nov. 2.
"We had to regroup quick and move on,'' said Borges, who had been a successful head coach at Coyle-Cassidy High School the previous nine years. "It was culture shock.
"But it absolutely wasn't tough because of how the kids responded. Brendan Sullivan (the director of athletics) came down to the rink and addressed the team and everybody was pulling the rope in the same direction. It made the transition unbelievable.''
Stonehill got off to a 6-9-0 start through early January, but since then, the Skyhawks have been rolling and are on a five-game winning streak, matching the program's longest one since the 2009-10 season.
They are 6-0-0 against Northeast-10 Conference opponents and 11-9-0 overalll heading into Saturday night's road game against Franklin Pierce University.
"The kids have bought into the systems we've given them,'' said Borges, who was 121-50-8 at Coyle-Cassidy. "It's been fun. The kids have just been great.''
Borges, who was an assistant coach to Joe Quinn at Coyle-Cassidy for 15 years, was hired to work under Leahy last August.
When Leahy departed, Borges had to scramble to find an assistant coach, and he turned to his son, Dana, who was a standout player at Stonehill before his career ended last winter.
Junior Chris Tasiopioulos has posted a program record five shutouts this season. (PHOTO BY Emily Reynolds)
Dana Borges had been playing professionally in France, but was he was sidelined with a hand ligament injury at the time his father was elevated to the head coaching position. He decided to return to the United States and become a Stonehill assistant.
"He got hurt right when this was going on,'' said David Borges, who coached his son at Coyle-Cassidy. "He knows exactly what I'm looking for. We're on the same page and the kids believe in what we're doing.''
Junior goaltender Chris Tasiopoulos has been a key to Stonehill's success with a 2.27 goals against average in 14 games and a school-record five shutouts, including three during the current winning streak.
"When Tas is on his game, he can make it extremely difficult for guys to put the puck in the net,'' said Borges. "He's a calming force. He knows how to control the game.''
Sophomore Robbie Dorgan leads the team with 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) while defenseman Travis Army has three goals and 14 assists followed by Richard Harris (10 goals, six assists). The third line of Anthony D'Elia, Stephen Balsamo and Kevin Airoldi has also made things happen.
"We've lost a lot of close games and have only been out of only two games all season,'' said Borges. "With a little bit of luck, we could have had two or three more wins. We beat Trinity, and that's the first time Stonehill has beaten a (New England Small College Athletic Conference) school.''
Three of the remaining five games are at home in Foxboro with the semifinal round of the NE-10 tournament on Feb. 22 and the championship to be decided on March 1.
Borges said it was difficult to leave Coyle-Cassidy where he was alongside Quinn for so many years and won a South Sectional title as a head coach. His brother, Darrell, moved from assistant to head coach at Coyle-Cassidy this season.
"I had 25 great years there and leaving Coyle was hard,'' said David Borges. "It made it easier to leave when I knew my brother would be taking over.''
Jim Fenton may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JFenton_ent.