Published in the January 4, 2019 edition.


BEVERLY — To close out 2018, the Wakefield girls’ hockey team took on a struggling Beverly team on Sunday at Endicott College. Unfortunately, the Warriors couldn’t end the year on a high note, falling to the Panthers in a high-scoring affair, 8-7. Defense seemed to be the problem for Wakefield, but head coach Chrissy Weeden and the team made sure to continue their trademark offense for 2019.

Despite the New Year ringing in, the Warriors continued their same effort and playing style against a solid team in Stoneham. In the New Year’s Day contest, Wakefield played some of its best hockey of the season, but the Spartans pulled away in the final period to seal the victory, 2-0.

The Warriors went with their traditional starting lineup, with junior Erin Heffernan, senior captain Brooke Lilley, freshman Caroline Lilley, junior Carestin Stewart, junior alternate captain Hope Melanson and freshman Abby Boudreau in goal.

Wakefield got off to a slow start, as Stoneham controlled the puck, and the Warriors were unable to clear it. Brooke Lilley nearly put Wakefield on the board seven minutes into the game, having a breakaway. Lilley utilized her speed throughout the game, flying past Spartan defenders with ease, but couldn’t finish against a tough goalie.

“Stoneham’s goalie is one of the best in the league and she is hard to beat. We could have read her more and shot the puck in better spots,” said Weeden on the struggles against the Spartan keeper.

For the rest of the period, neither team could gain a ton of momentum. Stoneham had the chance to take advantage of a penalty with 6:30 to go, but Abby Boudreau made sure to keep the Spartans off the board early, making a key save with 0:38 left in the power play. To end the period, Stoneham had a wide open breakaway, but Boudreau would leave the Spatans out to dry. Boudreau would finish the day with 30 saves, not letting the fury of shots get to her at all.

“I think the entire team could have done more to ease the pressure off Abby. She had another dominant game in the goal and was tough to beat. What we could have done more of was moving around in our defensive zone to take more initiative toward loose pucks or rebounds. Abby makes the first save and should not be expected to stop the second, third, and fourth, but like many games before, she was standing on her head and had a great game,” said Weeden.

The second period saw similar action but there were no goals despite stretches where both teams controlled the puck. Wakefield got an early chance with a power-play opportunity after a Stoneham cross-check. The Warriors made a strong push during the power play, but simply couldn’t finish after several shots on net. The Spartans regained the momentum after the power play, but Boudreau continued her success in net with two great saves. Boudreau got the crowd engaged, knowing that it would take a lot to get by her. Wakefield had yet another power play with 6:48 to go in the period after hooking by Stoneham, but they could not convert.

After playing well-fought hockey in the first two periods, the Warriors weren’t able to finish as strong as they hoped. Stoneham got a power play opportunity in the opening minute of the period. Wakefield nearly killed off the penalty, but Stoneham broke the scoreless game with a rebound goal with 12:29 to go.

The pressure was now on Wakefield, and they got their chance with only 2:41 to go in the game with a Stoneham penalty for checking. The Warriors couldn’t convert early in the penalty, so they decided to regroup with a timeout with 1:12 to go. Weeden decided to pull Boudreau from goal for extra offensive firepower. Unfortunately, Stoneham won the faceoff after the timeout and sent the puck across the ice into the Wakefield goal, ending the hopes of a win.

In the 2-0 shutout loss, the Warriors tallied 24 shots.

“I think our offense had a great number of chances. We need to have the other two forwards constantly crashing the net to get the rebounds that are offered to make more productive plays in the offensive zone,” said Weeden.

The Warriors will next suit up against Watertown on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Stoneham Arena. Coach Weeden called the game a “fresh start” for Wakefield after losing two tight games.

“The game plan for Saturday is to respond and react to the adversity we are facing and to bounce back into the win column. The league games are important and we are going to be one tough team to beat for the entire year,” said Weeden.

As the great Malcolm X once said, “There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”

Wakefield will look to do exactly that against Watertown and they know they have the capability to do it.