Red Raiders Hockey Team Faces Big Challenge, Third-Seeded Marshfield
By: Tom Moran Jr.
After needing three periods and then some to claw past Braintree, the Barnstable High boys’ hockey team has an even bigger challenge in store tonight against third-seeded Marshfield with a trip to the Division 1 South Sectional finals on the line.
The Red Raiders and Rams were separated by a coin flip when the seedings were first determined as both finished with .750 winning percentages and although seeded a spot below Barnstable, Marshfield also has a slightly better record (16-3-5 to 14-3-4).
If anything, the Rams will go into the contest with the knowledge that in their previous meeting with the Red Raiders (first round, South of Boston Shootout in Bridgewater on February 21) it was they that skated away with the 7-3 decision.
The Red Raiders will certainly have the revenge factor going for them but just wanting to repay a team will not be enough to get them past a very formidable Marshfield team and the keys to a win and a matchup with the winner of the Springfield/Duxbury game are the same as they were against Braintree.
Freshman Sean Cleary was outstanding in the Barnstable nets against the Wamps and he will have to be that good and better against a Rams team that was the class of the Atlantic Coast League.
Despite his age, Cleary is already a playoff veteran and will be making his fifth tournament start when the puck drops at 7:15 PM.
The Red Raiders that dominated the first period of action against Braintree will have to turn in three such efforts against the Rams if they hope to advance as the Marshfield offense had delivered 10 goals in the two tournament games while the team’s defensive play as been even better, limiting the opposition (Falmouth and Norwood) to a single goal in those contests.
Marshfield had seven of the ACL’s top-20 scorers with forwards Ryan Connors and Mikey Carbone leading the way with matching eight-goal, six-assist point totals.
The Rams also got 14 points over the course of the season from Connor McLean (4-10) and a dozen from both Chris Perry (8-4) and Tyler Martina (3-9).
The Rams are also deep and talented in goal with starter Kyle Moran and backup Tim Milch having matching 2.00 goals-against averages.
If the Red Raiders are going to be successful they have to get points from where they have gotten them all season, from anybody and everybody.
When the Red Raiders are at their best offensively, they get a goal from their first line, a goal from their second line and a goal from the defensive corps and if they can stick to that formula, the Rams will have their hands full at the defensive end as well.
The Red Raiders bring an impressive offensive arsenal of their own as senior captain and first-line center Zach Wells and second-line left wing Max Willman have combined for more than 50 points, first line left wing Chris Harris has 10 points in his last five games and defensemen Will Toffey, Mark Brodd, Eric Megnia and LJ Fellows have all lit the lamp over the course of the season.
“We have to play our best if we want to have a chance to win,” said BHS coach Scott Nickerson. “Marshfield is a very good team, probably the best we faced all season, but we can play with that team and if we play as well as we’re capable of, we can win this game.
”If both teams bring their A-games, overtime is most certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
Although the Rams do have that win over Barnstable to their credit, the Red Raiders have shown themselves to be a group that might be down but will never be out.
Another factor that makes the Red Raiders a tough out is their tournament experience with all but a few players joining Cleary as battle-tested, tournament veterans.
“Our tournament experience is big plus for this team,” said Coach Nickerson. “We’ve played under pressure, we’ve played in front of big crowds and we know what we have to do to get the job done.”
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