BOSTON – A potential spot in the Super 8 was on the line Friday afternoon at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University. The urgency displayed by both teams was apparent through the first two periods, but it was Braintree’s third-period explosion that lifted the Wamps past Catholic Memorial, 3-0.
“I think this is a huge statement win. We earned it in the third period,” said Braintree head coach David Fasano.
With 13 seniors as a calming presence, Braintree didn’t show any signs of alarm, even with the score remaining scoreless entering the final period.
“[The senior leadership] means a lot in between periods, out on the ice and on the bench,” Fasano said. “A few of them don’t play a lot, but they’re all out there supporting their teammates.”
He added, “Last year we were on edge when we took the ice against [CM]. This year there was no panic at all out there.”
Instead, Braintree just came out with more intensity and determination to give the committee one last reason to include the Bay State Carey champions.
“We talked about it in the locker room,” Fasano said. “The boys came out and knew their season was on the line if they wanted to play in a play-in game Monday. They responded. When we were ready to take the ice for the third period there was fire in their eyes.”
As much confidence as the coach had in the players, the team was comforted by some reassuring words from their leader entering the finale frame.
“Coach just told us, ‘We got this, we can do this,’” said senior Nick Ward.
Ward wasted no time, giving his team a 1-0 advantage just 14 seconds into the final period. He drove to the net hard, splitting two CM defenders, before backhanding a shot past Brandon Collett.
“It worked out right away. It came right out to me in the middle and I had some speed going. I tried to take him wide and luckily it went in,” said Ward.
With Braintree enjoying sustained forecheck in the Knights zone, Dylan Casserly extended the lead with a quick snap shot from the high slot that snuck through the five-hole of Collett.
The Wamps were terrific getting sticks in shooting lanes and blocking shots all game.
“The kids laid it all on the line. We were blocking shots and our goaltender [Nick Anson] played outstanding. It was probably his best game of the season,” explained Fasano. “Nick made a few saves in the third period that gave us momentum,” added the coach.
With Catholic Memorial’s net empty in favor of the extra attacker Brian Gallagher blocked a shot and went the length of the ice to seal the deal for the third and final tally of the game.
The loss marked the eighth game in a row without a win for the Knights, leaving the team’s Super 8 fate in the balance.
“I feel that we deserve to be there with our overall body of work this year,” said veteran head coach Bill Hanson. “Recently? No. I hope the committee looks at the whole picture. We’re still .500 in our league. We had quality opponents and quality wins.”
The win gave Braintree an 8-0-2 record over its last 10 games entering the postseason, including wins over Duxbury and CM in the past few weeks. It’s a feat that Fasano and many observers believe could propel the Wamps into the Super 8.
“I believe we belong in the play-in game, at least,” the 14-year coaching veteran said of his team’s Super 8 prospects. “I’m out there [at the selection committee meeting] every year and the key is always how you’re playing down the stretch. We have eight wins and two ties over our last 10 games. We’ve beat St. Mary’s, Duxbury and CM.
“Our goal is to keep winning. We want to make it to the last game of the season,”