Hockey 2023-2024

THE WARRIORS celebrate Frank Leone’s OT game-winner against Melrose in front of the Red Sea on Feb. 7 at the Stoneham Arena. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)


STONEHAM — With two minutes remaining, his team scrapping to find an equalizing goal against their rivals, Wakefield boys’ hockey head coach John Vater called timeout. Just 47 seconds later, with sophomore goalie David Rocca on the bench for an extra skater, senior captain Frank Leone (2G) gave a packed Stoneham Arena what they had anticipated since the start of the 2nd period when Wakefield finally got on the board, cutting the Melrose lead to 3-1 and putting instant pressure on an epic comeback. 

Leone buried a rebound off a shot from the point by senior captain Brian Purcell (3A) with 1:20 remaining to make it 3-3. 

Frankie was just getting started.

With both student sections on their feet and trading chants, Melrose was called for a penalty one minute into overtime, setting up a 4-on-3 for Wakefield. 

The Warriors wasted no time as senior Tylor Roycroft (1G, 1A) won the ensuing faceoff in the offensive zone over to Joe Covelluzzi (1G, 2A) on the right wing. The freshman moved it to junior captain Trevor Veilleux (1A) at the blue line who gave it right back, collapsing the lone forward on the ice for Melrose enough for Covelluzzi to send a laser of a centering pass right on the tape of Leone in the slot. Leone’s top-shelf finish popped the goalie’s water bottle from the top of the net, ending the game in style as the Warriors poured over the boards and bubbled into the glass in front of a delirious Red Sea. 

The celebration of Wakefield’s fifth win of the season morphed from a long shot early in the second period when Melrose went up 3-0 to an uncertainty throughout the next 18 minutes when Covelluzzi got Wakefield on the board with 10:42 left in the middle period after another rebound score off a Purcell shot. 

Frustration mounted for the Warriors when they couldn’t get closer on a couple of power play opportunities late in the 2nd including a 5-on-3 advantage for 27 seconds. 

Trailing 3-1 going into the 3rd, Wakefield kept the pressure on, finally finding that pesky tally when yet another Purcell blue line blast ricocheted out to an open Warrior in great position. This time it was Roycroft who buried the rebound to make it 3-2 just three minutes into the 3rd. Covelluzzi also assisted on the play. 

In a physical and penalty-riddled game (Melrose had 7 penalties to 3 from Wakefield) the Warriors had two power plays in the 3rd to find the equalizer but couldn’t get into a rhythm. 

Although Rocca didn’t have the busiest game of his young Wakefield career, only tallying 11 saves as Wakefield outshot Melrose 27-14, he kept the team in it with a phenomenal stop on a Melrose shorthanded breakaway during Wakefield’s first power play of the period. 

After a Wakefield penalty on their second power play eventually set up a brief 4-on-4, Melrose had 1:17 of power play time with 4:22 remaining, looking to put a nail in the coffin. 

Instead, Wakefield’s penalty killers went to work, clears from Veilleux and senior captain Liam McNeill, a shot block from Purcell and an interception and skate out by Covelluzzi burning the Melrose power play and eventually leading to Vater’s timeout that would set up Leone’s heroics. 

The Warrior win concluded a season sweep over their rivals. Wakefield couldn’t do the same against Stoneham as the Spartans won their rematch 5-3 on Saturday at the Stoneham Arena, making the Freedom Division title plenty murky as we enter the homestretch of the season. 

Burlington still has the best Middlesex League record at 6-5-2 for 14 points. Wakefield is next at 5-7-1 for 11 points. Watertown and Wilmington have identical 4-8-2 (10 pts) league records, tied for 3rd. 

The Warriors beat Burlington 2-1 on Jan. 13. The rematch, which could very well determine the Freedom Division title, will take place tonight, 6:30 p.m. at the Burlington Ice Palace. Wakefield then travels to the John Ryan Arena to play Watertown this Saturday at 4:20 p.m. 

Wakefield was ranked No. 16 in the MIAA’s latest Div. 3 power rankings. Fellow Middlesex League teams in D3 include Melrose (No. 27) and Watertown (No. 19). 

Burlington is ranked No. 26 in Div. 1.