The Walpole High School varsity boys hockey team poses together with their state championship trophy on the steps of Walpole High School on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Neal Fisher.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
It was the first good news that Walpole High School boys hockey had received in about four months. The team would be presented with the MIAA Division I trophy despite its state championship contest at TD Garden against Belmont being cancelled due to COVID-19.
As many remember, the Walpole boys squeaked into the postseason by winning each of their final three games against King Phillip (2-1), Marshfield (2-1) and Concord-Carlisle (5-2) to finish with a 9-8-5 record. The late push earned Walpole the No. 12 seed in Division I South.
From there, Walpole embraced the underdog mentality and forced teams to play to their style of grit. Walpole upset No. 5 Braintree in the first round, followed by a 3-2 win over No. 4 Duxbury in the quarterfinals.
Walpole took down No. 9 Falmouth, 2-1 in the semifinals, to set up a date with fellow Cinderella and No. 14 Archbishop Williams in the Division I South final.
Jack Curran played lights-out in net, posting his first shutout of the postseason and led Walpole to a 1-0 victory to clinch the school's first sectional hockey championship in program history. The win slotted Walpole into the state final against Belmont, set to be played on March 15 at 1 p.m., but the game never occurred due to the virus outbreak.
After months of thinking about what could have been while in lockdown, the Walpole boys were finally given some sense of recognition for their achievements as the group gathered at the high school on July 22 to be presented with the MIAA championship trophy. The team sported their away blue and orange uniforms and posed together for pictures, accompanied by head coach Ron Dowd.
It certainly was not the way these athletes hoped to finish their season. For senior captains Liam Fisher, Marc Hirshom and Matt Donnelly, this certainly was not the ideal way to conclude their high school athletic tenure. Despite that, Wednesday's presentation of the trophy is at least some sort of positive recognition for the greatness these athletes achieved during their final months as a WHS athlete. This group will always be remembered for their grit, determination and resiliency.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as game highlights, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.