Westwood's Danny Sullivan (12) and Medfield's Phil Parker (23) battle for a loose puck behind the net during Friday's AJ Quetta Invitational hockey game at Rodman Arena in Walpole. Photos by Mike Flanagan
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Throughout the 2021 high school hockey season, Medfield and Westwood met three times. The two arch rivals opened their respective seasons with a non-conference home-and-home in early January, with Westwood winning both by finals of 1-0 and 4-3, respectively. On January 23, Medfield served up some revenge with a 5-3 conference win over the Wolverines at Pirelli Arena in Franklin. The second conference matchup between the two teams was cancelled due to COVID protocols.
The two non-conference defeats Medfield suffered to Westwood to begin the season would be the only two blemishes on Medfield's record in 2021, as the Warriors finished the season 6-0-2 and won the TVL Large title with a final record of 6-2-2, 5-0-2 TVL. However, some in Westwood have disputed Medfield's conference title, citing the two games to begin the year, which Westwood won.
With no potential of a postseason matchup, the controversy appeared to be over, with both sides having their own opinions on the outcome of the season - or so we thought.
This past weekend, Medfield resident and former World Series hero for the Boston Red Sox, Curt Schilling, hosted the inaugural AJ Quetta Invitational at Rodman Arena in Walpole. Quetta, a varsity hockey player for Bishop Feehan, suffered a serious spinal cord injury in Feehan's game against Pope Francis on January 26 that left him paralyzed. Schilling invited the Medfield High School, Westwood High School, Brookline High School and Medway High School hockey teams to participate in the three-day event to help raise money for Quetta's medical care.
Naturally, along with playing for a good cause, the tournament allowed the Warriors and Wolverines to settle their beef about who the real TVL Large champion was. Lo and behold, Westwood and Medfield were scheduled to play in the opening game of the tournament on Friday afternoon.
Just 3:39 in and with Westwood on the power play, senior captain Phil Parker picked off a pass in the neutral zone while penalty killing and flew in on a breakaway. Parker snapped home a shot by the blocker of Westwood goalie Declan O'Leary for a shorthanded goal, putting Medfield ahead, 1-0.
Just 1:25 later, junior forward Zach Conway responded for Westwood. Following a Medfield turnover in the neutral zone, Conway flew in on a rush up the ice and split the Medfield defense. Conway put a wrist shot on net that squeaked its way under the arm of Medfield goaltender Garrison Schilling and across the goal line to tie the game at one at the first intermission.
With 10:35 to play in the second, Parker again found pay dirt to give the Warriors back the lead. Following an offensive zone face-off win, Parker scooped up the loose puck at the dot and launched home a bar-down snipe to put Medfield up, 2-1. Less than a minute later, however, Westwood responded again. A beautiful toe-drag by sophomore forward Danny Sullivan on the zone entry led to a two-on-one with senior forward Declan Guarino. Sullivan fed a beautiful cross-crease pass to Guarino on the doorstep, who tapped the puck home by the pad of Schilling to tie the game back up at two.
At 9:53 of the second period, sophomore forward Kevin Arthur gave the Warriors back the lead, taking a feed out in the slot from a forechecking Sam Palmer behind the net before twisting home a backhander top shelf to make it 3-2, Medfield. Just like Medfield's previous two goals, however, Westwood was quick to respond again. Just 1:14 after Arthur's go-ahead goal, a loose puck in the slot bounced onto the stick of Colin Fahey, and the Westwood senior captain cashed in with a snap shot down low to tie the game at three.
Off the ensuing face-off, Fahey was assessed a five-minute major for boarding while forechecking in the corner on Medfield's Aidan Parker. Medfield quickly cashed in on the power play, as Phil Parker fed a cross-ice pass to sophomore defenseman Ryan Dolan, who snapped home a glove-side shot on O'Leary to give the Warriors a 4-3 lead at the second intermission.
Westwood killed off the remainder of the five-minute major to open up the third period. The Wolverines were then rewarded with consecutive power play opportunities to try and tie the game. Medfield's killers stood tall and made the kill on both of Westwood's third period power plays. A series of big saves by Schilling in the final minute helped Medfield clear the puck twice. The clock ran out and Medfield came away with the 4-3 win. The win by Medfield gave both the Warriors and Wolverines two wins each against one another on the season.
Medfield would fall to Brookline, 3-0, in the second of their back-to-back double header on Friday night, but responded with a 3-1 victory against rival Medway on Saturday.
On Sunday, Medfield and Westwood met for the fifth and final time this season. Despite this matchup serving as the consolation game of the tournament, the Warriors and Wolverines were hungry to take the rubber match and win the season series against their rival. In a back-and-forth slugfest, Medfield prevailed by a 7-5 final to take the season series.
It certainly was not the season that both Medfield and Westwood High hockey had hoped for, due to COVID. Even without a state championship to play for, both of these squads left everything they had out on the ice. It's one thing to play for a championship. It's another to play for pride. But playing in order to raise money and help a fellow hockey player in need is as honorable and respectable as it gets.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.