Even with the wind picking up and the first flakes of snow kicking off a weekend storm outside, the bleachers and boards were packed with spectators watching a Division 3 hockey matchup in the upper rink of the Edge Sports Center on Hartwell Road on Saturday night.
Bedford High School Boys’ Varsity Hockey Coach Brian Seabury predicted a good rivalry in the Bucs’ home opener against Dracut-Tyngsborough Middies, and that’s what everyone got. At the end of the game, Bedford skated off the ice with another hard fought victory in their best start to the season for as long as Mike Rosenberg can remember.
Bedford began Saturday’s game strong – peppering Middies goaltender Connor Cole with a handful of shots within the first few minutes of play.
Dracut struggled to get much of anything started offensively for the first half of the period. Until the Middies managed an offensive campaign midway through the opening period, keeping the puck in the Bedford half of the ice for a couple of minutes of play. Bedford defensive forces held tight.
Shortly after that, Dracut dumped the puck to the end zone from the midline and while the Middies reset in the neutral zone, Bedford captain Charles Demeo gained possession. Demeo passed the puck to Jackson Tucker along the boards. Tucker passed to Andy Scoville who carried the puck into Bedford’s offensive zone. Scoville got tied up against the boards just inside the blue line by Dracut’s Brenden Modeski but managed to pass the puck out to a trailing Tucker.
Tucker carried a few strides, made a feint around Middie Jack Michaud, and sent a wrist shot over the shoulder of Cole into the net to put Bedford on the board 1-0 with just under four minutes left in the first period.
Seabury said following the game, “Every game is a challenge.” The second and third periods were a grind on both sides. The puck was held mostly to the wings, with Cole and Bedford goalie Max Marchionna warding off any shots sent in their direction.
Play became more physical against the boards and in front of the nets. Players were chirping, but the penalty boxes remained empty lest one interference call against Bedford midway through the third.
Dracut captain Colin Underwood and crew had a handful of breakaway opportunities stymied by Bedford’s capable goaltender Marchionna. Cole was able to ward off a bevy of shots by Bedford’s Alex Frost and teammates.
Bedford defenders Demeo and Charlie Siciliano managed their defensive zone well and executed regular offensive drives and shots on net.
Three and a half minutes into the third period, the Bucs produced one more time. A Dracut forward made a pass from the goal line to the front of the net intended for his teammate but was intercepted by Demeo.
Demeo maintained possession around two Middies into the neutral zone where James Nichol met up with his teammate. With one Dracut defender before the net, Demeo and Nichol perfectly executed a two-on-one. Demeo skated with the puck towards the right side of the net drawing both Cole and the lone defender towards him before dumping it across to Nichol on the opened up far side. Nichol one-timed the puck to the back of the net, much to the gratification, whooping, bleacher stomping, and glass banging of the hometown crowd.
Looking back at the game, Seabury said, “I thought we played a solid first period. They pressed us and made us uncomfortable at times, but it was nice to get a win at home. The home crowd support was great.”
Bedford has outscored their opponents, 27-4 through seven games. Despite the 6-0 record to start, Seabury warns, “The season is so early, we have to continue to improve.”
The Bucs coach did admit one of the things that has been going well in the Bucs’ first third of the season: “The goaltending has been great, Max has made up for our mistakes and turnovers.” But the coach isn’t surprised by the junior year student Marchionna, “We knew how solid and consistent he is.”
Bucs will host a league game against Haverhill starting at 4:05 p.m. on Wednesday at the Edge.
Seabury’s scouting report: “Haverhill brings a strong work ethic and we will need to play well.” The Hillies are 2-5 this season.