BOSTON – For the first time since December 27th, 1997, the Tewksbury and BC High boys hockey teams met in a non-league contest. On Monday night, the two teams played in an "Exclusion Game" which means the result would count for BC High but would be excluded from Tewksbury's record.
BC High, a Division 1 powerhouse every year, came into the game as the No. 2 ranked team in the entire state with a record of 11-3-3. Tewksbury came in as one of the top teams in Division 2, sporting a record of 12-4-2, which included coming off a terrible 5-1 loss to Lincoln-Sudbury, which came after a 7-0-2 streak.
Tewksbury played tremendous from start-to-finish, skating with the Eagles every step of the way, before falling 4-3 played before a solid crowd at the Edward T. Barry Rink at UMass-Boston.
Tewksbury took a 1-0 lead, but BC tied it with one second left in the first period. The Eagles made it 2-1, scoring another goal off a weird deflection and kept that lead going to the third period. The Redmen tied it up before BC got the next two goals coming in span of 2:27. Tewksbury ended the game's scoring with a goal coming with one second left of the third period.
BC held a 27-15 shot advantage but five of those came on a five-minute major penalty that occurred in the first period.
"We actually showed that if we really want to play, we can play," said Redmen head coach Derek Doherty. "They are the best team in the state – by far the best team in the state and we had a chance to win this game and I thought they played well too. This wasn't a case of them us sitting back. We took care of our defensive zone (coverage) and we blocked a lot of shots.
“I'm proud of the guys for the way they came into this game. They played three periods of hockey and even when they scored to make it 4-2, none of the kids had their heads down. They played hard and this is a great sign for us."
Back in 1996 with Bob McCabe as the Tewksbury coach, the two teams met in the Super-8 tournament with BC coming away with a 3-1 win. The following year when Bob Ware was the coach, the teams played a non-league game with BC winning, 5-3.
Through the first six minutes of Monday's game, the two teams skated up and down with a lot of physical play. Tewksbury's Campbell Pierce put a hit on BC High's Aidan Carey in the left hand corner, and was called for a five-minute major boarding penalty as well as a game misconduct. Carey was down on the ice for several minutes, was taken off and was eventually transported to the hospital, but head coach John Flaherty said after that game that Carey had a concussion.
“He was in a lot better shape when he was leaving here,” Flaherty said of Carey to the Boston Herald. “I think the ambulance is more precautionary. But he was coherent, he was talking, he knew what happened to him. And he’s banged up. He’s got a nice gash over his eye, he’s got another cut on the side of his head. So, he’s a little banged up, but he was in good spirits, and he was very alert. So I think he’s going to be okay.”
After that hit/collision, the game continued to be extremely physical with many, clean but powerful body checks. It was also an emotional 2.5 periods for Flaherty’s team after the injury.
“We needed (this win),” Flaherty said to this reporter. “It’s an emotional win for us. One of your leaders go down, and it affects everybody in that locker room, including me. So, you see a kid get hurt like that, and it’s emotionally an effect. So I’m proud of our guys, how they responded, how they rebounded. They overcame adversity, and they won a hockey game against a very good team. We don’t schedule weak games. I don’t care what division you want to put on a team. (Tewksbury is) a very good hockey team. They’re well-coached, and they came in here and they played a good hockey game.”
Just five seconds after the penalty on Pierce, BC High was called for a penalty making it a 4-on-4 situation. And on the ensuing face-off draw, Will O'Keefe won it back to defenseman Tom Barbati, who took a quick slap shot with the puck landing in the top right hand corner to give the Redmen the 1-0 lead.
The score remained that way until BC started to get something going with under 30 seconds left in the period. Entering the Redmen zone on a 2-on-1, Colman Benson tried to slide the puck over to one of his teammates, but the puck went off the body of a sliding Tewksbury player, and banked into the far corner for the goal, which came with one second left in the period.
The Eagles took a 2-1 lead in the second minute of the second period on another weird deflection with Max DaSilva getting credit for the goal.
Several minutes later, the pace of the game really picked up and it was just back-and-forth without a whistle for several minutes which included both teams getting robbed of goals. Tewksbury's Jason Cooke took a long slap shot which went off the right shoulder of goalie Dalton Neelon and fell behind him. The puck was heading to past the goal line before defenseman John Logan came skating in and swept the puck away with his hands. Quickly, BC got possession, moved up the ice and Colon Norton was sent in on a breakaway but was stuffed by senior goalie Patrick Letourneau (23 saves).
The score stayed the same and with 10:11 left in the third period, Tewksbury went on the power play. Again the draw was won by Sean Lane, and the puck was topped by Cooke and went to O'Keefe at the point, who blasted a shot to the back ot the net to tie the game up at 2-2.
BC scored the game's next two goals, before Barbati scored on a long slap shot right before the buzzer and the very entertaining game ended at 4-3.
"I thought we took our shots and our forecheck was pretty good," said Doherty. "Our third guy was high in their zone, so when they did come out of their own zone, there weren't too many odd-man rushes. We tried to keep them out of our end and tried to take away the neutral zone and thought we did a good job with that."
Doherty acknowledged that not having his best player for 2.5 periods certainly hurt the Redmen.
"It did hurt us, absolutely," said Doherty. "(Pierce is) our leader and arguably the best player in our league so for the other guys to step up and play the way they did without Campbell, is pretty good."
Tewksbury's top two defenseman Caden Connors and Barbati, both had really strong games.
"(Connors) played great tonight. He's been pretty consistent this season. He's on the ice a lot and really logs a lot of time. When he steps it up and turns it on, he can really play," said Doherty. "He's very physical. He wants to win and he loves to play hockey. And I also thought Tommy Barbati had another real good game and I'm glad that he was able to get two goals."
In a matter of three days, Tewksbury went from losing to Lincoln-Sudbury by four goals, which came a month after beating them by three goals, and then losing by one goal to the best or second best team in the entire state.
"We are leaving here with positives, certainly not negatives," said Doherty. "We had a chance to win this game tonight. I told the boys that the expectations now are high and now I expect you to play like that every game regardless of who we play.
“If we played like this tonight against Lincoln-Sudbury, we would have beat them, but we didn't come to play. It's high school kids, so we chalked up that one as a bad loss and out that behind us, came here tonight and played great."
In the loss on Saturday, LS clinched the MVC/DCL Division 2 League Championship Title. The Warriors scored just four minutes into the game, eventually went up 4-0 before Asa DeRoche scored, and then out the game away with an empty-netter in the final minute.
"We didn't play well at all and really didn't show up to play," said Doherty. "We haven't played well in the last few games so we needed this game (against BC High) to play well and to get us going again."
LS celebrated with the league title but head coach Matt Carlin said that's never an easy task against the Redmen.
“It’s a big win, we feel like we’ve had a lot of tough games,” said Matt Carlin to the Boston Herald after the win. “As a coach you really don’t have to say much when Tewksbury comes to town, the guys are always going to be up for this one.”
Earlier last week, Tewksbury and Boston Latin ended in a 5-5 tie. The Redmen had a 4-1 lead before the Wolfpack stormed back. Pierce netted three goals and Cooke had the other two.
Tewksbury was back in action against Lowell on Wednesday with results not known as of presstime and then will be off for a week before taking on Haverhill and Wilmington on the 19th and 20th.