Needham goaltender Ollie Lamadieu (pictured) hugs the post and keeps an eye on the play behind his net on Monday at Wellesley. Photos by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The annual Needham and Wellesley High School hockey games are some of the best that the state of Massachusetts has to offer. Normally played twice a year in front of a packed and rowdy barn, the 2021 COVID-shortened season forced the two historic rivals to cut one of their meetings.
On Monday afternoon, the Raiders (4-4-2) hosted the Rockets (2-4-2) in front of a limited crowd at Wellesley Ice Center in what was the season finale for both teams. Wellesley entered Monday's contest having earned a point in four consecutive games (2-0-2) and looked to make it five. Needham, meanwhile, entered on a three-game point-streak (1-0-2).
With 7:49 to play in the first period, senior captain Charlie Stevens drew first blood for Needham. Senior forward Connor McNaughton grabbed a loose puck following a shot from the point by Kyle Piersiak. McNaughton wrapped around the cage on his forehand and fed a pass to a waiting Stevens at the net-mouth, who willed home a tight-armed shot through the armpit of Wellesley goalie Austin Herlihy to give the Rockets a 1-0 lead.
Needham's Tom Casey was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for spearing with 3:20 to play in the first period. With 2:52 remaining, Josh Lunger drew even for Wellesley on the man-advantage. Quinn Wayman shot a puck intentionally wide that caromed right to Lunger standing at the doorstep, who corralled the puck and deposited it home to tie the game at one. Just 51 seconds later and the Raiders still on the power play, Wayman gave Wellesley a 2-1 lead by wristing home a shot from the point off an offensive zone face-off win by senior captain Jackson Claflin. Wellesley took their one-goal edge into the intermission.
Still 2-1 with 10:24 to play, Sean Maxwell broke in on a two-on-one with Robbie Marshall for Wellesley. Maxwell was able to finagle a pass through an outstretched Jake McGrath for Marshall, who put home a beautiful backhander upstairs to put the Raiders up by a pair at 3-1. Just 1:19 later, Maxwell delivered the dagger, streaking in and winning a loose puck battle with Needham's Kenny Keyes before deking and backhanding a puck off the glove of Needham goaltender Ollie Lamadieu and trickled into the net to make it a 4-1 game. The Raiders were able to thwart Needham from generating much offense in the final nine minutes and change, and came away with the 4-1 victory.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.