Fennell has hat trick & 5 goals in two games
Published January 22, 2021
By JENNIFER GENTILE
STONEHAM—After just three games into the season, one thing is apparent for the Melrose High Red Raider hockey team: they’ve sure been lucky to have senior captain Brendan Fennell on their squad. The future MHS Athletic Hall of Famer, league MVP in hockey and football, Super Bowl Champion and school record holder in hockey is making every second on the ice count this season as he has racked up five goals in two games, and 6 goals and 6 assists in total just three games into 2021. Of Melrose’s 13 goals this season, more than half have come courtesy of Fennell. On Saturday and Monday, he added to his legacy, helping Melrose top Watertown Raiders in victories of 4-1 and 5-2.
Melrose head coach Vin Mirasolo has nothing but praise for Fennell. “His skills are high end and his leadership is second to none. He’s been out there, throwing the hardest back checks. He’s just a difference maker— a great player who sees the ice as good as anyone,” he said. “In my 25 years of coaching, he’s one of the few select kids I’d consider an elite player.”
Between football and hockey (don’t forget lacrosse!) there is a sense that hometown pride has helped keep Fennell at Melrose High. And thankful Red Raider fans have been the lucky recipient. But, now as he’s winding down his high school career, there is at least comfort knowing there will more hockey for Fennell in the future. “He’s going to play such high level of hockey no matter where he goes,” says Mirasolo.
Fennell was in great company in scoring against Watertown on Monday. Earning his first varsity goal was sophomore Jason Pino, who made it a 4-2 game halfway through the contest. “Jason is a great example of a player whose just a pleasure to coach,” says Mirasolo. “There is so much potential there.”
Melrose has had to readjust their line in the wake of the departure of senior Quinn McCarthy who has transferred to play hockey for the remainder of his senior year. “This is a huge loss, I’ll be honest,” says Mirasolo. “His line with Fennell and Charlie Haggerty was something special. He was a finisher and these three played so great together.”
In fact, McCarthy had come up big in Melrose’s first win over Watertown on Saturday, Jan. 16, a 4-1 road victory that saw McCarthy connect with Fennell on a series of goals, scoring his last goal as a Red Raider to give Melrose a 4-1 final. His two assists and one goal, along with Fennell’s two goals and one assist, had a kind of symmetry to it that Mirasolo and the team will miss. But then again, Mirasolo says, without McCarthy to serve as Fennell’s “wingman” that hole was filled familiarly. “Brendan just puts in three goals on his own. It’s worked out,” says the coach with a chuckle.
Melrose senior Will Brandon also found the net in their first meeting. Says the coach, “Will is a great team player and a role model. He has earned every minute of time on the ice. He’s just a great worker and quality teammate.”
Having lost a key cog in the machine, Melrose’s first line now remains on the ice longer. “This group is maybe getting more minutes than any in the state.” The addition of Will Pierce on the first line from defense has been a smooth transition. “Will has adjusted well and is playing at a high level,” confirms his coach.
At at the net, freshman goalie Joe Smith has done a more than admirable job and earned several saves in the series with Watertown. “He’s been working well with our goalie coach [Mitchell]. He’s improving every day and playing sound hockey,” says his coach.
Coming up: a schedule that is considered TBD. Melrose was scheduled to play Wilmington for the next two weeks but that has been suspended due to COVID-19 concerns on the Wildcat end. Right now the highest priority for coach Mirasolo is getting in any game at all. Through no fault of their own, the Red Raiders have only competed in three games in one month. That’s a source of frustration, but it’s just been that kind of season. “Between limited practice and holes in the schedule, it’s frustrating,” says Mirasolo. “These kids are losing conditioning and valuable experience. At this point, we just want to play games. We want to see the competition.”
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