CHELMSFORD — Since joining the team last year as a freshman, to date, Will O'Keefe has scored 30 goals and added 17 assists. Certainly there hasn't been a goal bigger than No. 30.
Last Friday night, the Tewksbury Memorial High School boys' hockey team was in a 1-1 tie with league rival and No. 2 seed Lincoln-Sudbury in the Division 2 North quarterfinals. Tewksbury had a penalty which overlapped from the first to the second overtime period, therefore, both teams had to wait 2:06 for a whistle after the penalty had expired so the new implemented rules of going to 3-on-3 in the second OT.
Once the whistle blew, the ensuing face-off was in the Redmen zone, to the left of goalie Patrick Letourneau. It took a few seconds before the puck got dropped as it seemed as if the Tewksbury bench was confused on the ruling of going 3-on-3.
“The Lincoln-Sudbury coach slowed (the game) down a bit, so we wanted to slow it down a bit. After the first whistle in the second overtime, it's supposed to go to 3-on-3. We knew that,” said head coach Derek Doherty, with a slight grin.
While Doherty and his staff were trying to slow down Lincoln-Sudbury, it was the Warriors' who needed to go into the bag of tricks to slow down O'Keefe in the game's next eight seconds. Junior Campbell Pierce took the draw, won it and the rest is history.
"Campbell gave me a nice chance to go out (from the face-off and I then) chipped it by the guy and went to the net and put it by him," he said.
O'Keefe didn't just go by the guy — he was a like a shot out of a cannon — lightning fast. He got past the defenseman and as he skated through the neutral zone, he came closer to the net, where he deked out the goalie with a nice forehand move, moving from left to right, before putting the puck through the five-hole.
"I do that move a lot. It’s kind of my go-to move. I saw the (opening) once the goalie was coming down," said O'Keefe.
The play happened right in front of the Tewksbury bench and Doherty was asked what he saw.
“Will just put it into another gear and just went by (their defenseman) as if it was his first shift of the game,” said Doherty. “And once Will gets near a net, he’s going to shoot and score.”
O'Keefe has been red-hot of late, which included back-to-back hat tricks in the tail end of the regular season.
I play with two great players, Campbell Pierce and Jason Cooke," he said.
With two playoff games in the books, O'Keefe's goal put the Redmen into the sectional semifinals, for the first time since the team lost in the sectional final back in 2013.
"It’s been a while, so hopefully we can get to the finals," he said, while, being asked about the upset victory over LS. "We were the seventh seed, so we probably weren’t predicted to go this far. We have great captains, we have great energy and everyone is always positive (and that's why we keep winning).”