Senior forward and captain Colin Fahey (7) moves the puck through center on a rush up the ice. Photo by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Throughout the last year, the world has seen in incredible amount of change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes high school athletics. One thing that has not changed, however, is the good old-fashioned feeling of mutual disdain that the Medfield and Westwood varsity boys hockey teams have for one another.
The last time the Wolverines and Medfield squared off, it was inside a packed barn in Franklin on February 8 of 2020 (2-1 win for Medfield). On Wednesday, the two rivals met at an empty Pirelli Arena to open their respective new years. The schools will each play a 10-game, TVL-only schedule with no state tournament.
Behind a shutout by junior goaltender Declan O'Leary, the Wolverines fought off a late surge by Medfield to secure a 1-0 season-opening victory.
Instead of a traditional three-period hockey game, the Wolverines and Medfield played two 22:30-minute halves in order to minimize off-ice interaction. With 9:08 to play in the first half, it appeared as though Westwood took a 1-0 lead following a deflected shot from the point off the stick of senior defenseman and captain Kevin McGough. A tip in front by sophomore Thomas Hamilton was ruled a high-stick by the official, however, and the goal was disallowed. A handful of stellar saves by both O'Leary and Medfield goaltender Garrison Schilling during the final minutes of the half kept the game scoreless at the intermission.
Still scoreless with 9:41 to play in the game, Sam Palmer broke in on a two-on-one with Phil Parker and fired a wrist shot off the far right post. The puck bounced out into the neutral zone and allowed a three-on-two the other way for Westwood. Senior Nick Horsfall flew down the middle lane, deked through Medfield defender Zach Palmer and fired home a wrist shot down low to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.
With under two minutes to play and Medfield still down a goal, the team was awarded a five-on-three power play for 1:30 after back-to-back tripping penalties were assessed to Westwood. A pair of shots from the point by senior defenseman James Wilder were gloved and held by O'Leary. The best chance of the power play came with about 1:15 left, when Parker received a pass in the high slot from Wilder and fired a snap shot off the right post. With 55 seconds to play, Medfield yanked Schilling from the net for an extra attacker to make it a six-on-three advantage. Westwood was able to make a clear following a shot blocked into the corner by McGough. Medfield was unable to get another shot on net on their final rush up the ice. The Wolverines held on for the 1-0 win.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.