The Bedford High School boys’ varsity hockey team heads into an exciting game this weekend.
The Bucs (12-2-2) will take on Methuen (13-1-2) at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Edge Sports Center in Bedford.
Bedford’s 2022-2023 season ended when Methuen knocked the Bucs out of the Round of 32 of the State Tournament in a 3-2 game. The teams met up again in January in a match that ended in a 1-1 overtime tie. Both teams are currently unbeaten in the Boys Merrimack Valley Conference of the Division 3 Dual County League. A victory for either team will clinch the league title.
Bedford will also celebrate their four seniors – Bryan Bai, Matt Colasante, Kenny Doucet, and James Naylor in a pregame ceremony.
On the road to a possible league title, the Bucs laced up their skates against the Haverhill Hillies in a matchup at Haverhill High School on Wednesday afternoon.
The Hillies (5-9-1) were hoping to catch the Bucs in a weak moment of a strong season after Bedford fell 2-0 to Nashoba Regional High School in a non-league game over the weekend. Bedford Head Coach Brian Seabury said, “Nashoba deserved to beat us. They outplayed us most of the day. They were hungry and won most of all the 50/50 pucks.”
The question of whether Bedford regained their appetite was answered less than a minute into the first period. From a faceoff in the Bucs’ attacking zone, Bedford center Naylor knocked the puck to Drew Siwik. Siwik passed back to defenseman Charles Demeo and Demeo got a shot by Haverhill goaltender Max Boyer.
With Haverhill also hungry for this win, Bedford couldn’t relax with a one point lead. Bedford goalie Max Marchionna was able to hold Haverhill center Jake Costa and crew scoring opportunities at bay through the first period.
After a solid Hillies offensive campaign midway through the first, Demeo gained possession and took the puck to the left side corner of the Bucs defensive zone. From the goal line, Demeo connected a precision pass through nearly every skater on the ice to Bedford’s Alex Frost at center ice. Frost’s positioning and Demeo’s accuracy left Frost with just 40 feet of open ice before meeting up with Boyer. The Bucs sophomore broke straight into the zone and cut to the right just before the net and shoveled the puck in the corner of the net to put the visitors up by two.
Bedford’s two goals in the first frame don’t tell the story of the great game Boyer played. The Bucs left little time for the sophomore to rest, and Boyer showed some endurance and agility throughout this game. Zack Hurrell, Will Janes, and Pat McGowan also helped provide defense.
Both teams remained hungry throughout the three periods with aggressive forechecks, quick transitions, hustling to the puck, and battling through the neutral zone (Hillies Nick Terilli was a strong source of neutral zone friction for the Bucs). Seabury ran his bench utilizing different configurations of offensive lines than in previous games and mixed it up throughout the game.
“We went with some different combinations tonight, and got to see some guys play in other spots which brought some more excitement,” said the coach.
The tenders remained solid – Boyer squashing a Frost and Ryan McGrath attack, a Siwik fast break, a Naylor fast break, a shot from Kenny Doucet, and frequent Demeo shots from the blue line. Marchionna swallowing a Pat McGowan breakaway attempt and Costa wrist shots.
Marchionna stayed near perfect, but with two and a half minutes left in the game, a close bounce of the puck and perhaps a premature whistle sent the puck to a face-off in the Bedford defensive zone. Costa won the face-off and got the puck to Terilli. Terilli passed to Jack Baker in front of the net, and Baker took the puck around the outside and took a shot over Marchionna’s shoulder to bring the game within a goal.
The Bucs answered a minute later and scored with just under two minutes left in the game. Boyer saved a James Lorusso shot and then a Naylor shot. The puck got to Demeo, who skated around the net and squeezed the puck in the corner for a wraparound goal, a center ice celly, and a 3-1 final.
Seabury said about Wednesday’s match, “I thought we created more opportunities through a hard forecheck and we got to the net. I liked the attitude we played with overall.” He’s hoping the team will continue that going into Saturday’s game against Methuen and looking ahead to next week’s contest against Division 2 powerhouse Concord-Carlisle (13-2-1).
“We’re going to work on our pace in transition and our aggressive play on the forecheck which will benefit us on Saturday as well as the tournament. I’m confident we will be ready to go.”