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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
What a hockey game it was on Friday night between bitter rivals Needham and Wellesley, as the Raiders (3-0-2) overcame a 3-1 deficit to upend the previously unbeaten Rockets (3-1-1) in dramatic fashion.
Riding the momentum of a 4-2 win at Weymouth on Wednesday, it took just 2:22 into the game for Needham to find the back of the net. Phil Pascucci converted on the power play by slapping home the rebound of a shot from the high slot by Tommy Chmielewski, and the Rockets grabbed the early 1-0 lead. A little over three minutes later, however, Wellesley struck back after Needham defenseman Trent Kamke was sent off for slashing. The Raiders converted on the ensuing power play when sophomore defenseman Jack Hughes clapped home a shot from the point that snuck its way through the pads of Needham goaltender Dylan Jones, tying the game at one.
Moments after surrendering the power play goal, Needham’s Danny McEvoy was assessed a five-minute major for checking from behind, setting up Wellesley with a golden opportunity to take their first lead of the night. With 6:10 to play in the period and the penalty to McEvoy nearly halfway killed, Needham senior captain Tommy Fachetti blocked a shot at the point, won the race to the loose puck out in the neutral zone, and flew in on a breakaway. Fachetti deked left, cut back to his forehand, and tucked the puck past the left pad of Wellesley goaltender Andrew Hubbard to give the Rockets back the lead at 2-1 with the short-handed tally. Needham killed off the remainder of the penalty and entered the first intermission with a one-goal edge and all of the momentum.
At 11:45 of the second period, Pascucci’s second goal of the night extended Needham’s lead to 3-1. A little over three minutes later with 8:16 to play, Joey Siemering sniped one home to cut the deficit in half for Wellesley. With 39 seconds to play in the second period, Darrald Webb fired home a rebound to tie the game at three for Wellesley at the end of two periods.
With 7:36 to play in the third period, Liam Morgan gave Wellesley its first lead of the night at 4-3 with a rocket from the hash marks. Needham called timeout shortly after to try and calm things down. The Rockets made some adjustments and began cycling the puck in the Wellesley end to try and set up a significant scoring chance to tie the game. Wellesley played lockdown defensively, however, and made it nearly impossible for Needham to move the puck into the middle of the zone. With under a minute to play, Needham pulled Jones from the cage for the extra attacker but were unable to net the tying goal. The clock struck zeros and Wellesley completed the comeback against their arch rivals to nab the first of two legs that the Raiders and Rockets will play this season.
At the time of print, Needham will look to rebound against Canton on December 27 before a two-game Catholic Conference slate against Catholic Memorial on January 1 and Xaverian on January 3. Wellesley, meanwhile, will look to remain unbeaten when they travel to Archbishop Williams on December 30 before reentering Bay State Conference action against Walpole on January 3.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.