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By Josh Perry
Hometown Weekly Staff
The crowd was packed into Rodman Arena for the playoff opener, as the Walpole High boys’ hockey team went in search of its first tournament victory in seven years against perennial power Archbishop Williams in a Div. 1 South first round game.
The atmosphere drove on the Rebels who took the lead in the second period on a goal by Owen Hunter and then regained the advantage in the third on a Pat Donovan shot. Archies scored late in the third to send the game to overtime and ratchet up the intensity and the pressure in the rink
After two scoreless overtime periods, the game went to a shootout. With the teams still tied 1-1, Walpole senior captain Tim Farrow stepped up to be the fifth shooter with a chance to end the Rebels’ tournament drought. He planted his shot in the corner of the net and sent Rodman Arena into hysterics.
A couple days later, Walpole’s season came to an end after a 1-0 loss to Franklin but head coach Ron Dowd was able to take a moment and reflect on the highs he experienced in the Archies win.
“It meant everything,” Dowd explained. “Especially Timmy Farrow who gutted out last year with a bad shoulder but battled through the whole year. To see him score meant the world.”
“I have a photo of him and I at center ice and it’s something I’m always going to cherish. I just said to the boys, I’ve never been so proud of a group in my life.”
Against the Panthers, Walpole started strong but slowly Franklin worked into control of the action, eventually outshooting the Rebels 35-17. Franklin’s lone goal came on a wrap around by Luke Downie in the second period that took an unfortunate bounce over the pad of James Corcoran (34 saves).
The junior goalie had to be at his best in the third period, as Franklin looked for a second goal that could put the game away. He made 14 saves in the third alone.
Dowd said, “Our goaltender played well. We have a good one and we know we have to rely on him.”
Although Franklin was on top for most of the third, Walpole did have its chances in the final seconds. Senior Charlie Harrington, who had only returned to practice the day before the game after weeks out with illness, had several opportunities denied by Franklin goalie Nick Jasinski and then once by a diving Franklin defender who cleared a puck off the line.
“It was a great effort by the boys, just wish we had more time,” said Dowd.
The coach was emotional when talking about the senior class and what it has meant to the program. He also expressed his frustration about having to play Franklin at its home rink (Pirelli Veterans Memorial Rink) and with a day less rest than the Panthers.
He said, “We come over here…no excuses, they beat us…but its tough and that’s why I feel bad for these seniors in there right now who have given everything they’ve had for four years, who have brought this program back, who’ve done everything we’ve asked and to come back on short rest against a very good hockey club is tough.”
Dowd continued, “When Mike Kelliher and I took over here, we won nine games in three years and we won 14 this year. The crowd, the whole nine yards…to see where we were and to see where we are now is a credit to those kids.”
Josh Perry is an Editor at Hometown Weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.