Boys Hockey Defeats Archbishop Williams But Loses to Franklin

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David Moser

After a shootout win over No.12 Archbishop Williams in the first round, 3-2, five seed Walpole then traveled to play four seed Franklin. Despite multiple scoring opportunities, Walpole lost 1-0.

In possibly one of the most exciting games this season, the Rebels and Bishops forced their Division One preliminary round matchup into two overtime periods and then into a shootout. On March 3, fans from both towns filled the bleachers, and there was not an empty seat in the building.

We were very positive, we had three excellent days of practice leading up to [the game], so we were ready. Having a home game was big,” said Coach Ron Dowd.

Once the game started, both teams’ game plan was clear: go offensive. For the majority of the game, the Rebels focused on setting up a perimeter around the zone and passing the puck around until a clear shot opened up – most shots came from the point. All the while, the Bishops seemed more determined to crowd in front of Walpole’s net in an attempt to screen Rebel netminder, junior James Corcoran.

“I felt as though we were the underdog going into the game,” said Corcoran. “But we played good and stayed with [Archbishop Williams], and that is what won us the game.”

Corcoran was a major factor for the Rebels win, as he was able to make 33 saves by the end of the game. Halfway through the first period, he faced his first daunting challenge of the night as two Archie players skated down the ice on a breakaway against only himself and one other Rebel defender. Corcoran stopped the assault with a highlight reel save to add to the Rebels’ momentum. Despite a close shot in the final seconds, the score remained tied 0-0.

“Facing as many shots as I did, I did get tired. But I cannot let that stop me because it is my job and I have to perform for my team,” said Corcoran.

Walpole did not let the between-periods timeout stop their momentum, for only 50 seconds into the second period, junior Owen Hunter notched the first goal of the game. Walpole dumped the puck in the zone and went for a change; Hunter came off the bench and immediately intercepted a Bishop player’s pass out of the zone and scored off a breakaway all alone.

“After scoring the first goal,” said Hunter, “the game and the [crowd] erupted. All the clutch saves from [Corcoran] topped it off too.”

Soon after, Walpole could not clear the puck out of their zone and let up a goal with 11:42 left in the second period.

Going into the third period, the score was tied 1-1. Both teams seemed desperate to gain the lead, for players from both sides were firing shots from every angle. Similar to Walpole’s first goal, the second goal was also a breakaway. This time, junior Pat Donovan received an up-ice pass from senior Jimmy McKenna and skated around the Bishop defenders. Donovan fired a snapshot snipe into the far bottom right corner of the net; the Rebels regained the lead, 2-1, with 12 minutes left in regulation. The joy of having the lead was short lived however, for while senior Liam McCabe was in the penalty box for cross-checking, Archbishop Williams managed to score again off of a third rebound not cleared by Walpole. Three minutes to go in the now tied game, not only was tension rising in the stands, but also on both benches.

After two overtime periods, the score was still tied 2-2. Corcoran’s save percentage must have skyrocketed, for he was a main component to the Rebels’ ability to stay in the game.

In the shootout, the Bishops went first, followed by the Rebels. Corcoran saved the first shot, sending Walpole fans into a frenzy. Junior Pat Donovan missed his chance, the crowd was nervous. Corcoran saved the second Bishop shot, sending Walpole fans into an even bigger frenzy. Senior Jimmy McKenna scored on his shot, and Corcoran saved his third – Walpole’s crowd was about to explode. Walpole missed their next two shots, while the Bishops missed their fourth. On their fifth shot, Archbishop Williams scored, but it did not matter, for senior Tim Farrow notched the game winning goal. The energy and excitement in the stands bursted open, and the celebrating Walpole players rushed over to the Walpole fan section where both groups jumped up onto the boards in celebration. The Rebels’ victory meant they moved on to face No. 4 seeded Franklin.

“Any time you get a big win like that, you hope [the momentum] carries over” said Dowd. “I thought we came out [against Franklin] with plenty of emotion but as the game wore on, you could see the legs being tired.”

On March 5, Walpole faced Franklin in a much less exciting game. Walpole fans showed up again in large amounts wearing orange in support of their beloved Rebels. The first period ended scoreless, but Franklin was the first to capitalize with ten minutes left in the second period.

Going into the third period, the Rebels were still down 1-0, but dominated the run of play. They had far more scoring chances throughout the whole game, but they just could not find a way to put the puck in the back of the net. Franklin then went on the powerplay with 13:45 left in the third, but Walpole managed to kill the penalty time. The Rebels could not stay out of the box, for only two minutes later they were back in it.

An anxious Walpole team called a timeout with one minute left in the game, still down 1-0. After play resumed, Walpole pulled Corcoran so that they could add a sixth player to their offense. The attempt was futile, for the Rebels were unable to capitalize and ended the game without scoring any goals.

Walpole’s season ended with a 1-0 loss to No. 4 seed Franklin.

Dowd said, “The tough part was such a quick turn around. Our legs were not there and that is the most disappointing fact. Franklin had the extra day and had the more jump in their step.”