Champs

The Falmouth High School boys’ ice hockey team celebrates after finishing Barnstable to win the Cape and Islands League championship, and punch their ticket to the MIAA state tournament.

Senior Night was not one that the Falmouth High School boys’ hockey team will want to recall fondly any time soon, regardless of which class the players belong to. In the follow-up to the Clippers’ best showing of the year, a fantastic 4-2 league-clinching win over Barnstable, FHS laid a proverbial egg against old foes Marshfield. The Rams scored single goals in each of the first two periods and added two more in the fourth to take a 4-0 decision.

FHS is now 11-7-1. The team will play its final three games in the Buddy Ferreira Classic, beginning February 15, against BC High at 7 PM at the ice arena.

“That was probably our worst game all year,” coach Paul Moore said. “We were not good. That’s really disappointing to come out and play like that after our last game.”

Marshfield, which has the ability to make good teams look bad with its defensive-minded approach, clogged up the neutral zone and did not allow FHS to gain clean entries into their end of the ice all night long. The Clippers, who entered the night as the top-scoring team in all of Division 1, were limited to just 17 shots on goal in the game, very few of which tested MHS keeper Aidan Healey.

Falmouth fell behind late in the first period on a wrist shot from Bryce McDonough that found the back of the net at 13:49. In the second period, at 3:21, a shot by Charlie Kolar hit a Falmouth skate and deflected by North Wilson (16 saves) to double the lead.

MHS went on to add two more in the third to put it out of reach. Griffin Mudge got the third Rams goal and Matt Mullaney picked up the fourth one.

“We’ve got to be better than that. BC High isn’t going to come in here feeling sorry for us,” Moore said.

Falmouth 4, Barnstable 2

During the National Anthem you could see the anxiety trying to exit their bodies as every member of the Falmouth High School ice hockey team slid back and forth on their skate blades. The two-minute long song seemed endless as two of the state’s biggest rivals renewed perhaps its best rivalry at the Falmouth Ice Arena in front of a capacity crowd.

The Falmouth High School boys’ ice hockey team entered play on Saturday, February 8, staring down all of the pressure in the world as their archrival Barnstable High came to town. FHS needed to secure at least one point in the game to qualify for the state tournament, and to win at least a share of first-ever Cape and Islands League Atlantic Division championship. With games against Marshfield, BC High and then two other top tier Buddy Ferreira Classic foes on the horizon, getting another point was anything but guaranteed.

In the biggest game of the year to date, the best players on the team delivered the goods. Top scorers Nick Champani and Stone Devlin each scored once and defensman Jake McKenzie, who has been white hot of late, scored a pair to lead Falmouth to an exciting 4-2 win over Barnstable to punch their ticket to a wide-open Division 1 state tournament that any of a dozen teams, including FHS, has a chance to win with a great couple of weeks.

Falmouth dominated the first period, and a good portion of the second, but saw a 2-0 lead disappear in the blink of an eye late in the middle frame to send the game to its last 15 minutes all square at 2-2. BHS scored a pair in 32 seconds of clock time and McKenzie, who has been a monster ever since moving to the blue line a few weeks back, felt responsible for his team coughing up the lead.

Barnstable’s first goal, by Chris Cordeiro, deflected in off of the senior’s skate and under Jack Braga to make it a 2-1 game. A moment later McKenzie was called for a slash that led to a power play goal for BHS that tied it up.

McKenzie more than made amends, though. He’d already scored Falmouth’s first goal of the game, in the first period, and then he added the biggest of the game midway through the third that proved to be the game-winner. With Falmouth turning up the pace, Daren McDonald sped up the ice toward BHS goalie Connor Higgins, but had to circle to the corner when a defender blocked his angle. McDonald spotted McKenzie at the top of the slot and passed it back where the senior used a screen from Harry Hennessy to snap one into the back of the net to give FHS the lead. His second of the night, and 12th of the season, was one of the biggest of his career.

“It was awesome, especially since I let the team down for a couple of them in the second period, to come back and score was great,” McKenzie said. “We didn’t win the league last year, but to win it this year is great.”

Coach Paul Moore credited the senior for being a workhorse.

“Jake was a monster back there. He must have played 35 minutes. Our first line neutralized theirs, and we wrapped up the tournament and the league all in one game,” the coach said.

Being a Falmouth-Barnstable game, there was bound to be more excitement with over eight minutes left to go. It reached a crescendo with a minute to go when Chris Cordeiro got a step on the defense and took a hard shot from the bottom of the left wing circle that beat goalie Jack Braga, but hit iron.

As the Raiders were stunned at their misfortune Max McDonald led a break up the right side the other way and centered the puck to an all-alone Stone Devlin in front. Devlin deked out Higgins and delivered the dagger for FHS, making it 4-2 with 45 seconds remaining.

Braga was fantastic in his second straight, and third career, start in net. The freshman stopped 20 of the 22 shots he saw.

“He played awesome. Even if one guy got around me I knew that he’d be there, standing on his head,” McKenzie said.

In the first period FHS took a two-goal lead on goals by McKenzie and Champani. McKenzie rifled one in at 6:23 to get it going and Champani potted a power play goal at 9:09 that was set up by Devlin. The goal gave the senior 98 career points.

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