Add it to the collection of memories Mark Cabral has as head coach of the Southeastern Regional boys hockey team.
Cabral secured his 200th career victory on Jan. 7 by overcoming Stoughton/Brockton, 5-1, as the Hawks improved to 3-2-1 on the season.
“I think it’s the kids’ work ethic more than anything,” Cabral said of the milestone. “Maybe that’s coming from a voke tech school where kids are taught to work at a young age. We stress that if you work hard, you’ll play.”
Cabral, in his 16th season, said he first realized how close he was to No. 200 when looking through his file of team statistics toward the end of last season. He called it “a feat of longevity.”
Colin Wilbur (two goals, one assist), John Whalen (two goals) and Luke Martineau (one goal) led the charge in the win, as goaltender Dylan Quinn allowed just one goal – something he’s done in three of the team’s six games.
“Playing our game and playing the way we want, we try to stress staying out of the penalty box, they seem to buy into it and they do great,” said Cabral. “I’ve had some great players over the years.”
And they tend to put on performances that age into unforgettably tall tales.
“The very first year I coached, we were down 4-2 late in the game against Carver,” Cabral recalled one of his favorite memories. “We pulled the goalie and all three of my seniors scored in the last minute and a half to win the game, 5-4 in regulation … We ended with a seven, eight-win season that year and that was a big win. We built on that. The next year, we had a nine-win season and the year after we qualified for the playoffs.”
Or how about the time the senior trio of CJ Doucette, Peter Coster and Justin Lavoie each scored their 100th career points in the same game, their career finale against Cardinal Spellman, in 2016? “A special moment,” said Cabral.
Southeastern Regional became a co-op team with West Bridgewater for many years and Bristol-Plymouth entered the fold in 2014. Last year, West Bridgewater joined forces with East Bridgewater to continue on as the W.E.B. hockey program.
Southeastern has claimed the Mayflower Conference crown every season since 2016 and maintained a reign of winning the Vocational State Championship between 2017-2020 that featured wins over New Bedford Voke, Northeast and Shawsheen Tech. The Hawks lost to Essex Tech in the title game last season by a 3-2 final – a night Cabral reflects on fondly: “We probably played one of our best games. I couldn’t have been prouder,” he said. “We lost, but my kids played fantastic.”
As some programs battle problems with turn-out year after year – and some seasons are more fruitful than others for Cabral’s team over the years – Southeastern is currently running four healthy lines and look forward to playing bigger schools such as Quincy High (Feb. 15), the Stoughton/Brockton co-op (rematch on Feb. 1) and Whitman-Hanson (Feb. 20) coming up.
“Because we’re a voke tech school, we tend to fly under the radar,” Cabral said. “I try to keep those competitive games on the schedule and the kids take it to heart. They want to show they can play with the (bigger), more hockey-based schools.”
Does that give the team a sense of pride?
“Yes it does,” said Cabral. “We’ve given those teams some good games. They’ve also beaten us 7-1 a game here and a game there, but I want the kids to play that tough game so they learn the right way to play and we’re more tournament-ready.”
The bar is set high, as Southeastern will hit the road for five of its next seven games with notable matchups against Blue Hills, Diman Regional Voke Tech, Bishop Stang, South Shore Voke Tech and Stoughton/Brockton among the bunch.
“We try to keep it (about) learning and fun for them,” Cabral said. “They know this is the highlight, probably, of their hockey careers and they go out and enjoy it.”