- Name: Bob Johnson
- School or league: Watertown High
- Team: WHS Boys Ice Hockey
- Award: Update
Two more tough home losses have now placed the WHS boy’s ice hockey team at 8-9-2 on the season with one game remaining. Stoneham scored a late third period goal to eke out a 2-1 win last Wednesday, and Burlington needed a late empty netter to pull away in a 3-1 victory. As we’ve mentioned numerous times this year, the Middlesex League is full of teams with high post-season expectations. Reading, a team that rosters 17 seniors, is expected to make a run at a Super 8 bid. After a slow start, Wakefield, another team with 17 seniors on its roster, is primed for a late season push. Defending Division 1 state champion Burlington is just one of 10 teams that will try to make a deep run in the tourney. On senior day at the JAR, the Red Devils high powered offense, stingy defense, and great goaltender took care of business in the win over the host Red Raiders.
Two first period goals dampened the spirits of the large crowd on hand to honor this year’s seven seniors including Captains Connor Demore, Matt Johnson & Dan Loprete, along with goalie Matt Coughlin, forwards Anthony Forman and Chris Stanizzi, and defenseman Alex McAdam. The Red Raiders recently made a few minor line changes, and the offense began to respond in the second period. Johnson, Chris Fidler, and Trace Dodge began to open scoring lanes, and Forman, Demore and Joe Kelland began to fire away on Derek Decastro, the Red Devil’s net minder. But Burlington’s defense-first mentality frustrated the waves of the Watertown offensive onslaught. Perhaps sensing the challenge, Watertown’s own Anthony Busconi raised the level of play in his own net, and stifled the powerful Burlington attack, none sweeter than when he stopped an amazing two-on-none with under a minute to go in the period as the crowd roared its approval.
Finally, lightning struck with just over 5 minutes remaining in the third when Demore ripped one from the right point that was tipped by Forman to cut the deficit in half at 2-1. The Red Raiders finally got an offensive break, and continued their attack. The line of Stanizzi, Matt Donnell, and Tyler Gardner put tons of pressure on Decastro in the final few minutes, leading up to the never dull, always exciting time when WHS pulled Busconi for the offensive zone face-off. But state champions know how to react in tight games, and the Red Devils won the draw and proceeded to break out and score the 3-1 open net backbreaker. Game. Set. Match.
In the Stoneham game, the visiting Spartans opened the scoring forty five seconds in when Ben Allen broke in alone and stuffed one by Busconi. From there, the two teams battled equally until Forman accepted a nice breakout pass from Johnson and snuck one by the Spartan goalie early in the 2nd period. In December these two teams battled to a 3-3 tie, and things were looking like another draw until Red Raider killer Andrew Cann (QB on Stoneham’s football team) slipped one short side with 3 minutes to go in the game. Try as they may, Raider nation was unable to bury the equalizer, and the 2-1 loss was in the books. Up next is the season finale at Melrose on Wednesday, then the team awaits its post season Division 2 North seeding.