[ccfic caption-text format="plaintext"]
By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
It’s been a special season for the Walpole High School boys varsity hockey team, who entered Saturday night’s grudge match and senior night contest with archrival Norwood at 19-0-1 and having already clinched the Bay State Conference title. The Rebels continued their hot play against the Mustangs in their BSC finale, jumping out to a 2-0 lead early before cruising to a 6-0 victory behind James Corcoran’s 18-save shutout performance in net.
The Rebel forward unit put on a clinic on Saturday, generating great zonetime and offensive cycles down low right from the opening puck drop. However, despite the advantage in time on attack, the game remained scoreless at the halfway point of the first period despite some glorious opportunities for Walpole such as a breakaway by junior forward Tyler Page, and a hit post by junior forward Ryan Birch.
Walpole was finally able to break through with 5:44 remaining in the first period when senior captain Patrick Donovan fired home the rebound of a Ryan Birch shot from the high slot. Just over two minutes later, Birch tapped home the rebound of a shot from the point, as Walpole was rewarded for their hard work with a two-goal lead at the first intermission.
Fittingly, the Rebels saw more offensive production from their group of seniors during the second period, as Donovan’s second goal of the game late in the period gave the Rebels a 4-0 lead heading into the final frame of senior night.
The Rebels were able to extend the lead to six midway though the third period and preserve the shutout for Corcoran by sacrificing the body and clogging shooting lanes in their own end whenever Norwood was able to set up on the attack. The win puts the Rebels at 20-0-1 and still within reach of the school’s first ever berth in the Super Eight, as Walpole is currently ranked at No. 9 in the state, according to masshshockey.com. If the Rebels end up on the outside of the Super Eight, they’ll be one of the favorites to win the Massachusetts State Tournament as a No. 1 seed.
At the time of print, the Bay State Conference champs get set to close out the regular season on February 22 when they travel to face Brockton in a non-conference matchup.