Hanley is nothing if not excitable and exuberant behind the bench. He’s the first one to approach the door as his Witches come off the ice after a shift, and he’s constantly shouting out encouragement to his players and clapping as he paces up and down.
“I’m definitely not quiet,” Hanley said with a laugh, “and I know it must look a little nutty. But I love competition and I love being part of a team trying to achieve a common goal; and with these guys I’m back as part of a team. They see my passion, and hopefully it’s rubbing off on them.”
The Witches have three huge positives: they’re in very good shape, they skate well and have a much deeper bench than in years past, meaning they’re staying fresh late into games. That’s where Hanley wants to see his team take it up a notch and get over the proverbial hump by playing their best hockey when it matters most.
New faces such as Alex Gianelli and first line winger Danny Heck have made immediate contributions.
Playing smart is also paying dividends. Batista drew a crucial penalty against Revere with his team trailing by a goal and under three minutes to play. By not retaliating against the overly physical play by his opponent, Batista gave his team a power play in which he assisted on Matt Jalbert’s game-tying goal.
“You have to be able to walk away from something like that. I’ll let someone do that to me if it gives us a chance to go on the power play and tie it up,” said Batista.
Harring, who faced (and stopped) more shots than any other North Shore goaltender last winter in routinely making 40-plus stops a night, said it was almost “relaxing” watching his team operate with the man advantage before tying the Patriots.