FALMOUTH, Mass. -- Wednesday was supposed to be a night of consolation games at the Cape Cod Classic hockey tournament at the Falmouth Ice Arena. However, a few surprising results over the first two days meant that three teams in the ESPN Boston boys’ hockey Top 25 rankings, and one team in the Last 10 Out, wound up meeting in the losers’ bracket.
The night began with No. 6 Hingham (12-7-2) and No. 9 Archbishop Williams (12-4-4) in a game that meant far more than consolation. Both teams were looking for another critical win to bolster their resumes ahead of Saturday’s Super 8 vote.
Both teams struggled under the weight of the game’s importance, but Archies rode the stellar play of goaltender Joe Vinay (27 saves) to pull out a vital 2-0 win over the Harbormen.
Archbishop Williams head coach Derackk Curtis believed that his team needed to get back to hard work and its style of play. He admitted that the allure of playing in the Super 8 and the praise heaped on his team may have affected the Bishops.
“We just wanted to go out and play like we could play, show a little bit of pride and commitment to the team and I think that it was a good game,” Curtis said. “In this tournament, we didn’t play to our fullest potential, but we just wanted to go out there and play up to our opponent.”
The first period was high on physical play but short on scoring opportunities as both teams focused on staying tight defensively. The second period was dominated by Hingham, but the Harbormen had no way past the Bishops’ senior goalie, who produced a series of highlight reel saves.
The best save of the night came at the expense of Hingham senior forward Justin Ryder. After holding strong to make two saves at his near post, Vinay swiveled and dove across the goalmouth to glove Ryder’s attempt to tap in at the far post.
It was a save that left the crowd in awe and added to the pressure that Hingham already felt. The Harbormen have hit a rough patch at the worst possible time and head coach Tony Messina rued his team’s missed chances.
“We’ve actually had a lot of those periods that we deserved a better fate, but you can only say that for so long,” Messina said. “Even the kids realize that. It’s frustrating, really frustrating.”
Archies came out strong in the third and finally broke the deadlock on a goal by Nick Menzel that was set up by fellow forwards Jake Reardon and Ryan Dunn. The Bishops held out against a late, desperate charge by Hingham and tacked on an empty-net goal just before the final buzzer.
Curtis remarked following the game that his team had done what it needed to do, but the team’s postseason destination was now in other people’s hands.
“I don’t think it was our perfect game, our best game, but it was good enough to win,” Curtis said. “I’ll take the win any day of the week, now you just got to hope that it was good enough to get someone to look at you.”
BC HIGH 2, WALTHAM 0
The nightcap held far less pressure as No. 3 BC High (13-3-3) faced off with Waltham (11-8-2) in a game that was dominated by the Eagles’ attack and the outstanding play of the Hawks senior goalie Nick Russo.
BC High outshot Waltham ,48-8, but, thanks to a heroic performance from Russo, only managed a 2-0 victory over the Hawks.
Waltham generally sits back and absorbs pressure, while hoping to catch a team with a lone goal that could win the game. The Eagles made that a difficult strategy with a goal just 1:24 into the game. Junior defenseman Sam Topham with a quick shot that snuck past Russo.
From that point on, a pattern emerged. The Eagles would attack, pepper the goal with shots, and Russo would do his best to repel everything that was thrown at him. He stopped one-timers, slap shots, and tips with a series of quick kick saves and solid positioning.
Despite Russo’s great game, the Eagles wrapped up the victory with 10:35 left in the second period. Sophomore Patrick Riley was on hand to tap into an empty net after Russo made three saves at his near post.
One player that epitomized the effort of BC High on Wednesday was junior captain Tom Besinger. The forward was battered for much of the game as the Waltham defense tried to limit his chances to find open ice. Still, Besinger created several great scoring opportunities, including three shots that rang off the post.
“When you’re as skilled as he is and you’re a difference maker like he is, you’re a target,” said Eagles head coach John Flaherty, who credited his playmaker for staying calm in the face of the constant hits. “Tommy’s got to come to expect that and know that’s going to happen.”
Flaherty was pleased with the effort and the team’s ability to bounce back after Monday’s loss to Austin Prep.
“Very happy with the effort,” he remarked. “The fact that we were able to play the way we played and to control the game against a very good team, I’m very happy with that. It’s a good bounce back from the misstep we took the other day and, going into St. John’s Shrewsbury. We needed a good game to close out the regular season.”