Senior defenseman Ty McGovern (10) gets set to snap a pass up the ice on the breakout. Photo by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Needham and Walpole High School boys varsity hockey met in the first half of a back-to-back set of games on Wednesday night at Babson Skating Center.
Behind a 27-save shutout by junior goalie Ollie Lamadieu, the Rockets (1-1-0) fought their way to a 1-0 win against the defending Division I South champs from Walpole (1-1-0).
Senior captain and forward Charlie Stevens snapped home quick shot off an offensive zone face-off win to put the Rockets up 1-0 with 19:33 to play in the first period. From there, the game belonged to Lamadieu as the junior net-minder took over. Late in the first period, Lamadieu made the save of the game, stoning Walpole senior captain Teddy McElaney with the blocker on a sprawl to his right.
Senior forward Mike Berejik nearly doubled Needham’s lead to 2-0 late in the first period, tipping a shot by Jack McGrath from the point off the left post. Despite both sides getting their fair share of chances, the first period (half) concluded with Needham still ahead 1-0.
Along with Lamadieu’s performance, Needham’s penalty kill was equally as exceptional. All five of Walpole’s power plays on the night were killed off by the Rockets, including multiple five-on-three’s and a late six-on-four with Walpole’s goaltender pulled.
Jack Curran served as Walpole’s MVP during last season’s title run. Now a senior captain, Curran continued to stand on his head on Wednesday, saving 21 of 22 shots put on him. Still 1-0 late in the game, Curran kept Walpole in it with a huge right pad save on Needham’s Connor McNaughton on a mini-breakaway. Unfortunately for Curran and Walpole, Lamadieu was simply one shot better. Needham was able to withstand a late push by Walpole with the goaltender pulled and prevailed by the 1-0 final.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.