The New Milford ice hockey team is off to a solid start and looking to close the season strong and return to the postseason.

The Green Wave are 5-7 with eight games remaining and have been extremely competitive despite having to replace major losses from last season’s team.

“It has been a great year so far,” Coach Scott Capriglione said. “This is a great bunch of young men who are pushing each other in a positive way to get better. We are 5-7 in those games we have only had two disappointing outings. A 4-0 loss to Staples and a 6-2 loss to an upstart Barlow team.”

New Milford is in the thick of the race for the Division III Tournament despite seeing three-time All-State player Nate Capriglione, All-Conference and 20-goal scorer Ryan Berry and four-year starter Max Halberg depart due to graduation. That trio accounted for 90 percent of the scoring last season. Also gone are defensemen Ben Paquin and Tyler Helmus.

Other players have stepped up to help push the Green Wave toward the playoffs.

Zach Hook is the captain and points leader for the team. Coach Capriglione credits Hook with doing a great job being a positive and supportive influence on the team.

Evan Golembeske has become the Green Wave’s Swiss Army knife, playing any position the team needs.

New Milford has also seen solid improvement from younger players Jarret Riviera, Nick Carlucci and Ryan Parker. Senior Jack Mayers has been leading by example with his hard work in the offensive and defensive zone play.

The Green Wave need to win three out of their next eight games to secure a spot in the state playoffs. New Milford is also still in the hunt for the league playoffs which has been a goal all season.

“For us to go deep in the playoffs and make the conference tournament we will need strong play from our senior goaltenders Hayden Giampietro and Ben Marano,” he said. We will need them to steal a game or two for us in these last eight games.”

It will be an exciting close to the regular season for the Green Wave, who have overcome the changes from last season and are starting to carve out their own identity.

“After losing the players from last year this team has really jelled and is focused on finishing the season strong,” Capriglione said.