The Jr. Redmen Squirt AAA Hockey Team competed in the annual Boston Bruins Holiday Tournament against some of the top Squirt teams in the area and ended 2013 with a heartbreaking 3-2 OT loss in the Championship Game.
The Jr. Redmen opened up the tourney on Friday December 27th against a Cape Ann team that they battled to a 4-4 tie back in October. This Cape Ann team had a number of “new” players on their squad and the Jr. Redmen knew they would have to be at their best. Unfortunately the Jr. Redmen did not have their usual skating legs and fell behind early as the Cape Ann team took a 3-0 lead after the 1st period. The Jr. Redmen opened up the 2nd period looking to get back into the game and cut the lead to 3-1 when Brady Chapman scored on the powerplay, assists to Jason Cooke and Sean Murphy. The Jr. Redmen had a couple of chances midway through the 2nd period but an Alex Pescatore breakaway and a Jake McDonough wrister were both saved. Cape Ann came out flying in the 3rd period, scoring 2 quick goals to take a 5-1 lead. Billy Doherty scored a short-handed goal to cut the lead to 5-2, assist to Justin Rooney, but the Jr. Redmen were unable to get any closer and a couple of late goals sealed the victory for Cape Ann.
The Jr. Redmen were back at the rink on Saturday December 28th for a battle against Methuen and left the rink with a well-deserved 5-4 win. The Jr. Redmen had their skating legs back and came out flying. Early chances by Conor Cremin and Andrew Della Piana were turned away by the quick Methuen netminder. Methuen capitalized on a bad bounce in front of the Jr. Redmen net to take a 1-0 lead with 6:02 left in the 1st period. Methuen increased their lead to 2-0 with 3:39 left in the period. The Jr. Redmen regrouped and cut the lead to 2-1 with just over 2 minutes to play in the 1st period when Sean Murphy fired a wrister into the top corner of the net, assist to Billy Doherty. The 2nd period started with speedy #81 from Methuen getting a breakaway but Jr. Redmen super-goalie Ben O’Keefe made a fantastic glove save that even had Blades the Bruins Bear chanting “OKIE”. The Jr. Redmen tied the game with 7:38 left in the 2nd period when Jason Cooke beat the Methuen goalie with a nice deke move, assist to Brady Chapman. The remainder of the 2nd period was fast-paced with both teams creating scoring chances. Methuen was unable to get pucks to the Jr. Redmen net because of great defensive efforts from Andrew Grieco and Jack Griffin. The 3rd period turned into an offensive outburst for the Jr. Redmen as they scored 3 goals in a 2-minute span to take a 5-2 lead. Timmy Sweeney got things started with 11:02 left in the period when he fired a hard wrist shot into the back of the net, assists to Maci Chapman and Jake McDonough. Justin Rooney used his speed to retrieve a loose puck behind his own net and skated through the entire Methuen team, beating the goalie with a pretty backhander. Sean Murphy scored just 20 seconds later as he fired the puck over the sliding Methuen goalie, assist to Alex Pescatore. Methuen looked to get back into the game but outstanding goaltending from Ben O’Keefe and strong team defense secured the win for the Jr. Redmen.
On Sunday December 29th the Jr. Redmen arrived at the rink knowing that a win would put them in the Championship game on Monday against a Cape Ann team that they owed. Marblehead also knew that if they won they would have a date in the Championship game. Both teams came out flying and battled to a scoreless 1st period. Marblehead had the early chances but once again the Jr. Redmen got excellent efforts from their blue-liners as Andrew Grieco, Jack Griffin, Jason Cooke, and Justin Rooney all made great individual plays to keep Marblehead away from the Jr. Redmen net. The Jr. Redmen nearly took a 1-0 lead with just over 3 minutes to play in the 1st period when the line of Timmy Sweeney, Jake McDonough, and Maci Chapman worked the cycle down low to create back-to-back scoring chances. The 2nd period started with Marblehead taking a 1-0 lead as speedy #10 fired a perfect shot into the top corner. The Jr. Redmen showed what an offensive powerhouse they can be as they scored 4 goals in a 5-minute span to take a 4-1 lead. Brady Chapman got things started as he stripped the Marblehead defenseman of the puck and skated in alone on a breakaway, firing a hard wrist shot into the left corner to tie the game 1-1. The Jr. Redmen took a 2-1 lead just 55 seconds later when Justin Rooney once again used his speed to get to the net, firing a backhander over the sprawling goalie, assist to Alex Pescatore. Sean Murphy kept the scoring going as he fired a bomb over the Marblehead goalie’s left shoulder for the 3-1 lead, assist to Alex Pescatore. The Jr. Redmen closed out the 2nd period scoring barrage when Billy Doherty followed up his own rebound, firing the puck into the back of the net, assist to Alex Pescatore (his 3rd of the game for the Playmaker). Marblehead came out flying in the 3rd period trying to get back into the game but Jr. Redmen goalie Ben O’Keefe made a handful of key saves to keep the 4-1 lead for the Jr. Redmen. Justin Rooney scored his 2nd goal of the game to increase the lead to 5-1, assists to Conor Cremin and Andrew Della Piana. The Jr. Redmen closed out the scoring with 3:07 left in the game when Andrew Della Piana fired a low wrister into the back of the net, assists to Brady Chapman and Conor Cremin. The Jr. Redmen closed out the game by sustaining offensive zone pressure and left the rink happy with a 6-1 win and a rematch against Cape Ann for the tourney championship.
On Monday December 30th the Jr. Redmen arrived at the rink with revenge on their mind. The Jr. Redmen came out flying, using their team speed and quickness to control play for the first 5 minutes of the game. Quality scoring chances from Conor Cremin, Jake McDonough, and Billy Doherty were all turned away by the talented Cape Ann goalie. Cape Ann had some early chances as well but Andrew Grieco and Jack Griffin had a great shift where they kept denying any pucks from getting close to the Jr. Redmen net. Cape Ann took a 1-0 lead with 4:04 left in the 1st period as big #24 fired a nasty wrist shot into the top corner of the Jr. Redmen net. The Jr. Redmen had a great chance to tie the game with time winding down in the 1st period when Jason Cooke and Justin Rooney worked the puck out of their own end, resulting in Cooke firing a perfect cross-ice pass to Alex Pescatore, who used his speed to get to the Cape Ann net but his wrister rang off the left post. The 2nd period started with Cape Ann scoring on a powerplay to take a 2-0 lead. The Jr. Redmen were not going to let this game slip away and they cut the lead in half with 6:08 left to play in the period when Brady Chapman intercepted a Cape Ann pass at center ice and skated in alone on a breakaway. Chapman picked his head up and noticed the goalie leaning to the right so he fired a hard wrister into the lower left corner of the net. The Jr. Redmen nearly tied the game on the ensuing shift but a shot from Timmy Sweeney and a rebound shot from Maci Chapman were both stopped. Cape Ann went on the powerplay with just over 3 minutes to play in the 2nd period and had a handful of quality scoring chances but Jr. Redmen goalie Ben O’Keefe made save after save to keep the score at 2-1. Brady Chapman scored his 2nd goal of the game with 1:38 left in the 2nd period. Brady stripped the puck loose of a Cape Ann forward at center ice, deked around the Cape Ann defenseman and skated in alone on another breakaway. Brady saw the Cape Ann goalie out of crease so Brady deked to his backhand, and fired a backhander into the upper corner to tie the game 2-2. The 3rd period was a classic battle between two quality skating teams, with excellent puck movement and lots of scoring chances. Both goalies were outstanding with Jr. Redmen netminder Ben O’Keefe making a few saves that had the refs patting him on the head and telling him “great save”. With time winding down in the final period, both teams were looking to avoid OT. Jr. Redmen right wing Billy Doherty nearly scored the winner with just over 1 minute to play in the game but his wrister just missed the far post. The buzzer sounded to end regulation and both teams regrouped for the 5-minute OT period. The Jr. Redmen nearly ended the game just 34 seconds into OT when Sean Murphy took a pass from Brady Chapman and skated in alone on the Cape Ann goalie. Murphy deked to his backhand and had the empty net but somehow the Cape Ann goalie reached back with his stick and pulled the puck off Murph’s stick and into his glove. The Jr. Redmen called a timeout with 1:45 left in the OT period and on the ensuing face-off had back-to-back scoring chances from Jason Cooke and Justin Rooney. With time winding down Cape Ann picked up a loose puck at center ice and big #24 skated down the left wing boards and with 18 seconds left in the OT, fired a perfect shot off the crossbar and into the net for the win.
The Jr. Redmen players would like to thank their parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. for all the cheering they did, and for making this such a fun event.