THE WARRIORS and Raiders line up before their game on New Year’s Eve. (Charles Gagne Photo)
By CHARLES GAGNE
STONEHAM — A large crowd of Wakefield fans gathered at the Stoneham Ice Arena on the last day of 2021 to cheer on the boys’ varsity hockey team as they took on Watertown.
Parents, grandparents, family and friends, along with a number of Wakefield youth players showed their school spirit with Wakefield gear and lots of support for the home team during this exciting match.
Captain Joey O’Brien started off the game with some early action, driving up to the Watertown goal, but the goalie poked the puck away. Soon after, an interference penalty was called on a Watertown player and Wakefield made good use of the power play with close shots from O’Brien and Frankie Leone, but more saves were made by the Watertown goalie.
Another potential opportunity came with a two-on-one down the ice, when O’Brien passed to fellow captain Matt Elwell, but the Watertown goalie dove to make a glove save on Elwell’s shot. A few possessions later, a Watertown player was able to sneak one past Wakefield goalie Dom DeAngelis so that Watertown went up 1-0.
Some rowdy play toward the end of the first period resulted in simultaneous penalties on a Watertown player and a Wakefield player. O’Brien took his opportunity then to tangle with the Watertown goalie, faking a forehand, then backhanding the puck into the Watertown goal, tying the game at 1-1. Additional near misses in the second period came for Wakefield when Dan Mailhoit and Trevor Veilleux had shots on goal.
Early in the third period, Watertown had a two-on-one scoring chance and a Watertown player ended up one-timing the puck past DeAngelis to put Watertown up 2-1. Throughout the game, DeAngelis made a number of impressive saves.
Another exciting defensive play came when Wakefield’s defenseman Evan Simoneau dove to block a shot on goal after Watertown had a two-on-one drive, likely stopping the Watertown shot from entering the Warrior net. More shots on goal came from Wakefield’s O’Brien and Mike Pellegrino, but more saves were made by the Watertown goalie.
Still down 2-1 with a minute and a half left in the game, the Warriors pulled DeAngelis to add a sixth player for a chance to tie the game. Unfortunately, seconds later, Watertown slung the puck out of their zone, and it slid the length of the ice right into the empty Wakefield net, putting Watertown up 3-1. In the last minute of the game, there was some scrappy play and a few more penalties between the Freedom Division rivals who will meet again on Jan. 29.
Wakefield (2-3) ended up losing 3-1, but they are already gearing up for their next game tomorrow, 8 p.m. against Wilmington (3-3) at the Ristuccia Arena.
Sophomore Tylor Roycroft felt the game was a good learning experience which could teach the players to fight through adversity to get better. According to Roycroft, head coach Mike Geary pointed out the many positive aspects of Wakefield’s play and said they will build from there “to change the outcome of close games.”