The Jr. Redmen Squirt AAA Hockey Team continued their strong play, going 1-0-1 in games against the Twin City Hawks and the NH East Eagles.
On Sunday January 5th the Jr. Redmen skated before a loud hometown crowd at Breakaway Ice Center. They hit the ice minus 2 key players as Jason Cooke and Jack Griffin were missing. The Jr. Redmen played one of their best games of the year and left the rink with a convincing 4-1 win over a very talented Twin City Hawks team. The Jr. Redmen set the tone early, scoring just 1:47 into the game when Jake McDonough fired a wrist shot over the goalie’s blocker, assist to Brady Chapman. The Jr. Redmen had a handful of chances to increase their lead when the line of Billy Doherty, Alex Pescatore, and Sean Murphy had over a minute of sustained offensive zone pressure but shots from all 3 forwards were turned away. The Hawks battled back but any chances to tie the game were thwarted by the outstanding defensive work of Timmy Sweeney and Justin Rooney. The Hawks were able to tie the game with 33 seconds left in the 1st period. The 2nd period was a hard-fought battle with both teams getting plenty of scoring chances but the goalies at both ends of the ice were outstanding. The Hawks had the early chances to take the lead but Jr. Redmen goalie Ben O’Keefe made a series of saves that had the high-flying Hawks wondering if they’d get another puck in the net. The Jr. Redmen had their own chances but the Hawks goalie made great saves on shots from Conor Cremin and Alex Pescatore. The Jr. Redmen took a 2-1 lead with 4:18 left in the 2nd period when Maci Chapman fired a wrister over the goalie’s glove and into the back of the net, assist to Conor Cremin. The Hawks attempted to tie the game back up but the defensive pairing of Andrew Grieco and Andrew Della Piana made great play after great play to keep the lead for the Jr. Redmen heading into the 3rd period. The Jr. Redmen opened up the 3rd period looking to put the Hawks away and did just that as they scored 2 goals in a 1:10 span. Justin Rooney got things started when he scored a pretty goal with 8:49 left in the game to give the Jr. Redmen a 3-1 lead, assist to Brady Chapman. The Jr. Redmen increased that lead to 4-1 with 7:39 left in the final period when Billy Doherty unleashed a wicked wrister into the top corner of the net, assists to Andrew Della Piana and Sean Murphy. The Hawks made some final efforts to get back into the game but they could not get through the “steel-curtain” defense of Andrew Grieco, Andrew Della Piana, Timmy Sweeney, and Justin Rooney. The Jr. Redmen closed out the final minutes controlling play in the Hawks’ zone and left the rink with a solid 4-1 win.
On Saturday January 11th the Jr. Redmen travelled to Haverhill Valley Forum for a battle against one of the highest scoring teams in the Valley League, the NH East Eagles. The Eagles came out flying and put immediate pressure on the Jr. Redmen but were unable to get pucks to the net because of outstanding defensive work from Andrew Grieco and Jason Cooke. The Jr. Redmen finally got their legs moving and started to use their aggressive forecheck to create shots on net. The line of Jake McDonough, Sean Murphy, and Maci Chapman trapped the Eagles in their own zone resulting in shots on net by Maci and Jake that were turned away by the Eagles’ goalie. Speedy #8 from the Eagles had a great chance on a breakaway with 47 seconds left in the period but Jr. Redmen goalie Ben O’Keefe reached behind him with his catching glove to snag the puck just before it crossed the goal line, keeping the game scoreless through the 1st period. The 2nd period was another fast-paced, high-energy period of hockey with both teams battling hard. The Eagles carried play early in the 2nd period and nearly took a 1-0 lead when they went on the powerplay but great defensive work down low and in front of the Jr. Redmen net from Timmy Sweeney and Justin Rooney kept the score at 0-0. The line of Conor Cremin, Andrew Della Piana, and Brady Chapman used their speed and puck-moving ability to create offensive zone pressure but a shot by Della Piana just missed the far post and one by Cremin was snagged by the Eagles’ goalie. With 3:13 left in the 2nd period Brady Chapman stripped the puck from an Eagles’ defenseman and skated in alone on a breakaway. Chapman was hooked from behind and was awarded a penalty shot. Chapman skated in with speed, faked the wrist shot, deked to his backhand, and slid the puck behind the Eagle goalie and into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead. The 3rd period opened with the Eagles controlling play but once again unable to get pucks past Jr. Redmen goalie Ben O’Keefe who made back-to-back saves on point blank shots. The Jr. Redmen went on the powerplay with 7:10 left in the final period and nearly took a 2-goal lead when the line of Alex Pescatore, Billy Doherty, and Sean Murphy worked the down-low cycle to perfection resulting in Murphy firing a hard wrist shot off the left post. The Eagles were finally able to get on the scoreboard and tied the game 1-1 with 4:02 left in the game. The Jr. Redmen fought back, looking to regain the lead but shots from Jason Cooke and Justin Rooney were turned away. The Eagles went on the powerplay with 1 minute left in the game and nearly took the lead but Ben O’Keefe made a kick save (and a beauty) to keep the game tied 1-1. With time winding down and the Jr. Redmen still short-handed, Alex Pescatore used his speed and stick-handling prowess to dance around the Eagle defenseman and was in alone on a breakaway. Pescatore was slashed from behind just as he was about to shoot and the ref’s arm went up to call a penalty. The sold-out Valley Forum crowd waited for the ref to call a 2nd penalty shot but instead he made the “slashing” call and sent big #10 to the sin-bin. Brady Chapman won the ensuing face-off and Pescatore had a final shot on net but the Eagles’ goalie was there to make the save as the buzzer sounded to end the game in a 1-1 tie.