BOBBY DEFEO scored Wakefield’s opening goal and assisted on fellow senior captain Joe Colliton’s 2nd period goal in the team’s 3-2, Round of 16 win over Algonquin on Saturday night. (File Photo)
Wakefield takes on No.2 Duxbury tonight
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
WESTBOROUGH — The Wakefield High boys’ hockey team, ranked 10th in Div. 2, only got one local game until they needed to lean into their identity as underdog road Warriors.
It’s an identity that plenty of Wakefield High teams have embraced since the current format of statewide brackets were implemented last year.
Facing a long drive to Northstar Arena in Westborough on Saturday night, the Warriors got off the bus and quickly got into a slugfest with a tough Titan team. Algonquin tied the game and took the lead in the 2nd period before Wakefield evened it and reclaimed the advantage in the 3rd while the defense held on the rest of the way, winning it 3-2 and advancing to the state quarterfinals which they will play tonight, 7:20 p.m. against No. 2 Duxbury at The Bog in Kingston.
As is necessary to have a road Warrior identity in the playoffs, Wakefield’s seniors led the way with all three captains scoring a goal. Bobby DeFeo scored in the 1st, Joe Colliton scored in the 2nd, and Matt Elwell scored the game-winner in the 3rd.
“The three of them compete regardless of situation,” said head coach Mike Geary. “I think it helps they’re all multi-sport athletes at Wakefield High.”
Senior goalie Dom DeAngelis racked up 24 saves in the win and has now surrendered just three goals in seven periods of playoff hockey, including the overtime in round one.
DeFeo’s first period goal was assisted by Elwell as the two teamed up well with junior Frankie Leone as Wakefield’s first line and the Warriors went into the first break up 1-0.
Geary and the Warriors constantly talk about bouncing back when things don’t go your way, a lesson destined to serve a team well in the postseason.
Wakefield faced that kind of challenge in the 2nd period.
After Algonquin tied it 1-1 on the power play, they took a 2-1 lead late in the period. Rather than sink in and take on the mentality of just waiting for intermission, Wakefield went to work as Colliton found the back of the net assisted by DeFeo.
“It was good to see the group once again respond to adversity,” said Geary. “We fell behind but certainly responded well.”
Tied 2-2 in the final period and a trip to the quarterfinals on the line, it should surprise no Wakefield fan that Elwell would be the one to win it.
“Captain Clutch,” fresh off an OT winner just 48 hours earlier, finished in traffic, once again caused by his relentless forecheck along with his linemates. Sophomore defensemen Trevor Veilleux, who played another fantastic defensive game lined up with Colliton on the blue line, picked up the assist on the goal.
That team defense goes beyond just naming a fast, physical, team-first group of defensemen, which also includes senior John Regan, junior Liam McNeil and junior Brian Purcell. It also includes Wakefield’s forward group, the aforementioned first liners along with a gritty 2nd and 3rd line full of hustlers who never hesitate to block a shot or empty the tank on a backcheck. That group includes seniors Jack Curran and Sean Hogan along with juniors Tylor Roycroft and Dylan Wickwire, sophomores Andrew Nemec and Cam DePrizio and freshmen Andrew Martin and Brady Walsh.
Together, with DeAngelis anchoring the team, the Warriors held off an Algonquin squad that threw everything they had at the road Warriors in order to even it up once again.
That included an extra-skater after a timeout was called with 1:18 left in the period. It was to no avail as the Warriors left town with one of the most monumental wins in the program’s recent playoff history.
In the new statewide format, a quarterfinal is often equated to a sectional championship because it is the round that leads to a state Final Four.
Wakefield will be the absolute definition of underdog tonight when they face off against the highest seed remaining in Div. 2. The No. 2 Dragons have the appearance of a team steamrolling their way back to the semifinals. They lost to eventual champion Tewksbury 4-3 in a double overtime Final Four game last year and are certainly hungry to get back, beating No. 31 Dartmouth 11-0 in round one and No. 15 Boston Latin 7-0 in the Round of 16. Tewksbury, the top seed in this year’s tourney, was eliminated by No. 17 Norwood, 5-2 in the Round of 16.
Duxbury will be on their home ice once again while the road Warriors will face another tough drive to the South Shore for a 7:20 p.m. start.
The winner will advance to a neutral site for the state semifinals where they will play the winner of No. 3 Canton vs. No. 6 Newburyport who are also playing tonight.