- Name: Bob Johnson
- School or league: Watertown High
- Team: WHS Boys Ice Hockey
- Award: Red Raider Ice Hockey
Quick. When’s the last time a Red Raiders boys ice hockey team beat Woburn? Ummm, yeah, it’s been a long time. When’s the last time they beat Lexington? Yup. Been a long time. How ‘bout twice in the same week? Yeah, right. But that’s exactly what this year’s squad did last week in a thrilling 1-0 win over Woburn and 2-0 win over Lexington. Throw in a 4-0 road victory at St. Mary’s of Westfield and Mike Hayes’ team improves to 8-4-1 on the season with 3 straight shutout wins. When asked to comment on who played well in that stretch, Hayes summed it up with one word: “everybody.” So, this year the forwards are: Connor Demore, Trace Dodge, Tyler Gardiner, Matthew Johnson, Joe Kelland, Chris Fidler, Anthony Forman, Chris Stanizzi, Matt Donnell, and Tyler Poulin. The defensive pairings include Danny Loprete, Alex McAdam, Dante Flori, and Nick Giordano. And the backstop of it all is sophomore goalie Anthony Busconi.
The JAR was rocking last Wednesday as 17th ranked Woburn came in for a 4pm matchup with a Red Raider squad that entered the game without a win in their last 4 games, going of 0-2-2 during that stretch. The Tanners were a Super 8 team in ’11, and a D1 second round team last year. Bottom line: they are a well-balanced, powerful team with plenty of playoff experience. After a scoreless 1st period, Watertown got on the board first as Demore scored a power play goal, with helpers from fellow senior captains Loprete and Johnson. From there the Tanner offense exploded and pressured the Red Raiders offensive zone. But with solid team defense, and a well-executed game plan, the game came down to the last minute of play in the final frame when Woburn pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. The action was thrilling, and the pressure tremendous, but the ESPNBoston headline tweet says it all: “Watertown boys hockey upsets No. 17 Woburn 1-0. Goalie Anthony Busconi stands on his head between the pipes and gets the shutout.” Stands on his head. Nice. The Watertown faithful could finally breathe.
On Saturday night, the team hit the road for a late game at Lexington, another storied Middlesex League team that beat the Raiders last year 4-0 at the JAR in their only meeting. Revenge on their mind? Absolutely. In the 1st period, WHS controlled much of the play, outshooting the Minutemen 12-4, but had nothing to show for their efforts. Early in the 2nd period the Red Raiders got on the board when Demore won a key in-zone face-off and rifled a laser on the startled net-minder. Junior sniper Dodge buried the rebound for the all-important 1st goal. Loprete tipped in a Demore power play blast midway through the third for a 2-0 lead, and Busconi faced few scoring opportunities from there. The faithful got a bit of a scare when Lexington’s best forward came in from the red-line for a late short-handed scoring opportunity, but the cool, calm, and collected goalie easily stopped the attempt. The final score was 2-0 final, and two consecutive shutout were in the books.
Less than 36 hours later, the team boarded a bus to drive 95 miles west on the Pike to play St. Mary’s of Westfield. Perhaps it was the long bus ride, or perhaps it was a bit of a Middlesex League winning streak hangover, but although the boys outshot the Saints 15-2, it was scoreless after one. The boys finally found their skating legs in the 2nd period, as Demore netted a sweet shorthanded goal, Forman rifled a wrist shot through a screen, and Loprete fed Fidler for a perfect back-door power play goal and it was a 3-0 Red Raider lead. Sophomore Sam Ford scored a late third period power play goal, and senior net-minder Matt Coughlin preserved the shutout in the 4-0 win. Three games. Three shutouts. Three wins. One team goal. Two more points needed for post season play. If they play the way they did against Woburn, that tourney berth could come this Saturday at Reading.