TEWKSBURY — If we want to use hyperbole, we can say Friday night’s game felt like a scene from “Slapshot,” with the Hanson Brothers wreaking havoc on the ice.
Admittedly, the match between Tewksbury and Silver Lake Regional (of Kingston, Mass) was nothing like that classic movie scene. For a state quarterfinal game to take 2.5 hours with 25 penalties, seven game misconducts and 116 penalty minutes, it’s easy to compare it to a slapstick comedy afterwards, instead of a game high school hockey.
Aside from all the penalties and splurges on the ice and zebras, second-year Tewksbury striker Matt Cooke scored two goals, including his first just 21 seconds into the game to ignite the No. 1 seed Redmen past No. 9 seed Argent Lake, 4-1 in front of 1,000 fans at Breakaway Ice Center.
The victory pushed Tewksbury (20-2) into Monday’s semifinal game against Duxbury and ended the Lakers’ season with their overall record of 18-6.
After the win, Tewksbury High coach Derek Doherty was asked what he thought of the penalty-filled game.
“It was like we called it ‘A Gong Show’. It was just very unruly. (Silver Lake) had kids standing in front of our bench, they had kids shoving (our players) in the head,” he said. “They (the Tewksbury players) are kids, so after a while (something will happen). We try to tell our kids to skate, but you can’t stand a lot of that. They had a kid who put four kids on our bench and then he did it again I said something to their coach and he said ‘the refs let this game get out of hand’ and I said ‘no really”. It was a mixture of everything. Our guys are physical, we play physically and that’s our style. We have talent and we play physically. The teams don’t like that. They don’t like to play this way. It’s a perfect example. All of a sudden you see slashing and slashing. It’s not good. I’m glad that n We got through the game.
The seven players who were sent to the locker room (4 from Silver Lake and 3 from Tewksbury) all received game misconducts, meaning no suspensions. Four major penalties were also pronounced and 13 minor penalties as well. The second period took 45 minutes to play with ten of the offenses coming within the 15-minute frame.
“The ref said he was going to give penalties of two, five and ten minutes. That’s not hockey. Are you going to do that if you’re a referee in Hockey East? No, of course not because you You’d be fired. Those guys are good officials, usually they’re good officials,” Doherty said. “I just think when they say ‘we’re going to give everybody ten or two minute penalties, that’s not That’s not how you do it. He’s a cop out.
In the first quarter of the game, Tewksbury scored as Caden Connors fired in from the right point which was saved. The rebound went to Matt Cooke, who from the left circle, turned and fired a quick wrist shot into the back of the net.
“That goal marked the whole game. I think that’s when (Silver Lake) was like ‘what just happened here’. We played well when our game was playing, except when the penalties came,” Doherty said. “I was yelling at some of our kids for the penalties they took and it was like ‘hey guys we’ve got a good team here so let’s stay focused and disciplined and play the game. Let’s get it over with’. I think that it was the longest game in (high school sports) history.”
Minutes later, Tewksbury were awarded a penalty and just as the elimination was over, junior keeper Ben O’Keefe made three consecutive saves, all with his legs to keep the lead intact. That followed with another save, which ricocheted off the top of his glove after a 2-on-1 break.
With 6:16 left in the period, the Lakers were awarded a penalty and Tewksbury converted the first of two goals on the power play. Jason Cooke fired and the rebound went to Tyler Barnes, who put his shot over the hand of the glove for what turned out to be the game winner.
Just 18 seconds later, Silver Lake was called for another penalty and just before it expired, Tewksbury scored again. In a big run in front of the net, during which the Lakers goaltender lost equipment, Matt Cooke fired a shot into the empty net with an assist for Big Brother Jason.
It gave Tewksbury a 3-0 lead and by then, and up to this point in the game – 3:56 remaining in the first – Silver Lake couldn’t generate much, really struggling to cross the neutral zone. and in the end of the Redmen.
“We play a very good defensive neutral zone (system). We cover all three lanes and our defensemen are back there in case the puck goes through (the neutral zone),” Doherty said. “You’ve got Caden and (Nick) DiCioccio, Rooney and everyone else out there, and they’re going to step in and take the puck and pass it. We try to keep it simple in the neutral zone, but that creates a lot of good turnovers and a lot of scoring chances for us.
After that third goal, the Lakers found open seams. Mark Kelleher made a long pass from the boards on the right wing and slipped past the Redmen defender, but it was denied with a fine blocker save by O’Keefe.
Immediately after that, SL fell on a 3v2 break and Brandon Cavicchi’s quick wrist shot from the left spot was also cleared by O’Keefe.
The score remained 3-0 and at 5:06 of the second an Aaron Connelly shot slipped through the SL keeper’s pads and Jason Cooke was on the right side of the net and pushed it home, but the apparent purpose was waving his hand saying he never went in the net (when he clearly did).
Shortly after, there was the first of many scrums – this one, the first of the misconducts – and shortly after, again on the power play, Tewksbury struck as Sean Lane made it 4- 0 on a pass from Connelly.
The score stayed that way until Silver Lake scored with 2:57 left in the game, but before that O’Keefe was terrific, making a handful of big saves.