After their game earlier this week, Bedford High School varsity boys’ hockey head coach Brian Seabury said, “Every game is a challenge.”
While it didn’t start that way, Wednesday afternoon’s Dual County League Division 3 game against Haverhill High School fit that assessment.
Bucs outscored Haverhill, 4-0, in the first 26 minutes of play at the Edge Sports Center in Bedford. But during the final 19 minutes, Haverhill outscored Bedford, 4-1. At the final buzzer, the home team had the lead, earned the W, and a 7-0 start to the season and secured a #3 seat in the MIAA Division 3 Power Rankings released today.
While Bedford dominated time of possession and held play in the Bucs’ attacking zone for what seemed like the entirety of the first 15 minutes, they only managed one first-period goal.
Around five minutes into the game, Hillies goalie Max Boyer covered up a Logan Cox shot that sent the teams to a faceoff on the right side of the goal.
In a rapid sequence, Bedford center Alex Frost won the faceoff with a flick of the puck back to the stick of right-side defender Matt Savage along the boards. Savage made a quick pass to Cox who was cutting to the center 10 feet in front of the net. Cox one-timed a shot toward the lower right corner of the goal where Boyer was setting up for the save, but Frost showed up and got his stick out just enough to give the puck an unexpected bounce. It toppled under Boyer’s pads for the red light.
Frost scored a second goal a few minutes into the second period, receiving a pass from Cox at center ice, carrying it into the attacking zone, and running into some Haverhill defenders in the corner.
After a little back-and-forth passing in the corner with Ryan McGrath in a scramble to maintain possession, Frost stepped out of the congestion and took a hard shot on net. The blocked shot was deflected back out towards Frost by Boyer’s leg pads. Frost banged in his own rebound with a one-knee, one-arm fist pump slide classic finish for his bench, putting the Bucs up 2-0.
Three minutes later, Bedford center James Naylor won a face-off outside of the Bedford defensive zone. Charles Demeo gained possession and in an explosion of speed, worked a give-and-go in the neutral zone with James Lorusso.
Demeo accelerated with the puck through the Haverhill lineup to the far corner of the ice before quickly dumping a pass to the far side of the goal where an unattended Drew Siwik dove to poke in a shot before Boyer could shift his weight for the save. The Bucs were up 3-0.
With four and a half minutes left in the second period, Ryan McGrath took a shot in front of the net, and in a scramble for the rebound, Cox tapped the puck in to put Bedford up 4-0.
While the scoreboard showed a comfortable lead, on the ice, Haverhill kept working, kept up the effort, and didn’t make it a comfortable game. Bedford’s head coach commented, “I thought we did a lot of good things against Haverhill, our forecheck was strong and we played a bit more physical, they obviously didn’t go away and made the game interesting.” And “interesting” the game became.
Haverhill center Jake Costa led the attack. Jake Costa scored with under three minutes left in the second period – a shot from the outside to the far side lower corner of the net that Marchionna didn’t anticipate.
And with a minute left on the clock before the Zamboni came out to clean the ice between periods, Jake Costa (and Marchionna) performed nearly a mirror image of the previous play. Jake Costa got a backhand through from the other side of the net, pulling the game within range for the Hillies before heading to the locker room.
Two minutes into the third period, Matt Costa netted the Hillies third goal, bringing the visitors within one.
One star of Wednesday’s game was the lone referee who called a fair game, kept temperatures down when tensions were high, and spotted a goal for each side that could have been contentious, but kept the game moving along, even through a handful of penalties in the third period. Seabury agreed, “The referee did an excellent job that night, let the guys play, and should be commended for his skills.”
A Haverhill interference call was quickly followed by offsetting cross-checking penalties. A few minutes later Bedford was called for holding.
With a man disadvantage, Demeo caught a missed pass in the defensive zone, accelerated through the neutral zone and around two Hillies defenders into the end zone on the left side of the net before cutting back towards the net with a shot. Boyer dove on his side, but the puck crossed the goal line just behind Boyer’s shoulder – much to the frustration of a Hillies forward, who broke his stick in frustration, and had to leave the ice to collect his backup stick from the locker room.
The Hillies, indefatigable as the replica of Michaelangelo’s “The Thinker” statue that is their team mascot, did not give up. Jake Costa earned a hat trick before the game let out, answering Demeo goal with his own unassisted fast break from the defensive zone past three Bucs before sniping a shot past Marchionna with a satisfying clink against the pipes.
But it wouldn’t be enough to put the Hillies on top. Bedford took the 5-4 final.
Bedford is on the road for the next two games. They play at 7 p.m. in Methuen on Saturday and at 4 p.m. on Monday in Wakefield before hosting Melrose at the Edge at 4 p.m. next Wednesday.
Bedford’s 2022-2023 season playoff run was ended in the first round by Methuen. The Rangers are lossless this season thus far with a 7-0-1 start to the season, and are sitting in the sixth seed in the power rankings released today. Seabury said Saturday’s match up “should be a fun game.” The Bucs plan: “we are focusing on what we do well – playing 5 on 5 disciplined hockey.”