By Joyce Erekson
The Lynn Jets hockey team will have a new look on the bench this season.
Mike Roberts Jr. , who served as an assistant under head coach Joe Conlon the past two years, has is the new head coach. Conlon resigned at the end of the 2016-2017 season.
Roberts and Conlon go back a few years. Both played hockey for English High and both graduated in 1999. After playing hockey as a post-graduate at Williston Northhampton School in East Hampton, Roberts opted to play baseball at the University of Tampa. He had been a three-sport, (football, hockey, baseball) athlete at English.
Although baseball took top billing in college, Roberts said his passion was always hockey. He had first laced up the skates as a two-year old. He played youth hockey in the Salem-Swampscott program before returning to Lynn, where he played in high school. Roberts said he continued to play hockey in a men’s league while he was in Florida and when he returned home in 2007, he got involved in coaching the middle school hockey team. He took over the middle school program and 2009 and remained there until Conlon asked him to serve as an assistant coach with the combined (Classical, English, Tech) high school program.
“It was a pleasure coaching side by side with Joe,” Roberts said.
The Jets won 15 games that first year and nearly as many last year.
“We put together back-to-back solid seasons,” Roberts said.
Roberts will have some challenges this year with the graduation of some key people including goalie Jack Stafford. Stafford was a big factor in the Jets success the past few years, as were the three other graduating captains, defensemen Ryan Clark and Steve Patrie, and three year, first-line center Jonathan Kosmas.
“We’re taking a couple of hits with those guys leaving,” Roberts said, adding, however, that he has 10 returning forwards and five returning defensemen.
“We should be in a position where we can score some goals and keep ourselves in games,” he said.
Rogers said in the past, the team could count on some really tight games, but that won’t be case this year.
“This year that’s not how we’re going to win games. We’re going to have to score (more goals) to stay competitive,” he said.
Roberts, who works for Bank of America, will be busy once the season gets going. Last season, he was commuting into Boston, but he now works in Wakefield, which makes for a much easier commute. He also bartends at the Lazy Dog a couple of nights a week. He and his wife, Melanie, have two children – (almost) 3-year-old son Michael III and 6-year-old daughter Makenna.
“I’ve always wanted to be a head coach,” Roberts said. “When I took the middle school job it was kind of a stepping stone.”
Roberts said he’s very excited about the job.
“We’ve got our work cut out this year, but with the guys we have back, I know we’ll be competitive in every game,” he said.
The Jets will have six seniors returning with experience – Michael Clougherty, Sean Devin, Kevin Morgan, Travis Ryan, Quinn Brinkler and Justin Mayne. They’ll be helped out by a solid group of returning underclassmen including Kenny Perez, who has been working out in goal, and last year’s leading scorer, Brian Clougherty, among others.
Roberts will be helped on the bench by a couple of returning coaches in Joe Gunning and goalie coach D.J. Pinkham. Lynn Youth Hockey President Brian Boisson will help run the defense.