Boston High School: Chris Fowler



BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – It seemed like an add-on to a rout, but Kyle Leslie’s early third-period goal — the Braintree forward’s second of the game — was an important one.

But, at the time, its significance wasn’t lost on Wamps head coach Dave Fasano either.

“Looking back on it, I had said that’s probably the one that’s going to get us over the hump.”

Braintree carried a 4-1 lead into the third period of Sunday’s Division 1 South sectional championship game against Barnstable at Gallo Ice Arena.

That’s when Leslie tipped in his second of the game, collecting a loose puck played from the point by defenseman Kevin Howard. After a furious comeback of three straight goals, including two on the power play, the Red Raiders made for a dramatic finish, but fell short in a 5-4 final.

The Wamps advance to their first state Division 1 final, after having played in three sectional championship games in the last decade. They will face the winner of Monday’s North final between Reading and Wilmington.

Braintree (16-5-3) sought to push the issue, playing an aggressive forecheck throughout. It yielded immediate benefits, as the Wamps ran out to a 2-0 lead by the 7:43 mark of the first on goals by Gino LaRossa and Brian Gallagher. Leslie (2 G, 1 A) potted his first goal of the game before the period was out, with a helper from Gallagher, and Braintree took a 3-0 lead to the room.

The Red Raiders (15-6-3) broke up Nick Anson’s shutout bid at 1:32 of the second on a Cody Pasic (1 G, 1 A) wrist shot. However, the Wamps reestablished their three-goal cushion at 8:11 on a Nick Ward goal, with Gallagher (1G, 2A) on the primary assist.

“The thing we talked about after the third period was that we couldn’t go into a shell,” Fasano said. “Barnstable, all year long and if you saw the last three tournament games they’ve played … they don’t quit. They’re going to come at us, but we can’t go into a shell.

“Even when we were up three, we knew that Barnstable was going to throw everything at us because they’ve never quit all year long.”

Braintree seemed to put the game out of reach 32 seconds into the third. Howard lobbed a wrister over the diving shot-blocking attempt of a Barnstable forward. With the puck in the slot, Leslie adjusted and beat Red Raiders back up goaltender Jake Kaczynski short side.

Then the Red Raiders came alive. Mike McDonough set off a chain reaction of three straight Barnstable goals at 2:48, before scoring back-to-back power-play goals 11:21 and 12:24. Chris Fowler’s slapper got the Red Raiders within two, before setting up Cam Curtin’s tally on the man-advantage with the goaltender pulled.

“I thought we played extremely well for two periods, but our start killed us," Red Raiders head coach Scott Nickerson said. "We just ran out of time. They did a lot of things well against us. It would have been a remarkable comeback had we finished it off.”

Tough call: Nickerson elected to pull senior starting goaltender Kevin Huska to start the second period, after allowing three first-period goals, in favor of Kaczynski, a junior.

“Kevin Huska’s been our backbone for two years,” Nickerson said. “At that point, I felt like after giving up three, it was time to make a change. It’s a tough decision to pull a senior in his last game. But it was something we had to do.”

The move seemed to give Barnstable an immediate boost. After Pasic’s goal, on the other end of the sheet, Kaczynski kicked out a Gallagher shot from point blank range.

The incumbent to take Huska’s spot next season, Kaczynski battled to keep the Red Raiders in the game, which was also a swan song for one of the state’s more talented netminders in the last two years.

“To his credit, I’ve never been around who’s so positive and so uplifting after he comes out,” Nickerson said of Huska. “When Kaczynski made that save, you could hear Kevin pounding on the boards with his hand, trying to keep everybody going.”

Net gain?: Aside from having to refocus after its play-in game loss to Catholic Memorial, Braintree also had to face the South sectional tournament without the services of one of its top defensemen, junior Sean Casey, who was injured in the preliminary round game.

With that, Fasano has shortened his bench to five defenseman.

But even down a man, and an attempted third-period comeback aside, the Wamps defensive corps has been a major driving force behind their Garden push.

“That was a huge loss, he’s so good,” senior captain Joe Harrington said of Casey. “But our defenseman, no discredit to our forwards, we’ve been great defensively all year. John Elworthy’s really stepped in, Erik MacDonald’s given us good minutes, and [James] Flaherty and Howard have been doing it for a few years now. We just know it’s another day at the office for us.”

Recap: No. 16 Duxbury 2, Barnstable 2

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
11:56
PM ET


KINGSTON, Mass. – Even in his mind, Duxbury head coach John Blake knew his team was toast.

“I thought it was over,” he said.

After both teams took their timeouts, the Dragons assembled around the faceoff circle with 5.3 seconds to play and down a goal in Wednesday evening’s non-league tilt against Barnstable at The Bog. They executed their plan with senior captain Trevor O’Brien winning the draw back to Tyler Powers at the point.

However, Powers wasn’t able to get the puck to settle and the shot didn’t quite come through. It was about that time Blake was about to put his team’s opener in the loss column.

But there was O’Brien. He coolly collected the loose puck and found an opening on the short side to beat the Red Raiders’ nearly impenetrable goaltender, Kevin Huska (23 saves). There was then 1.2 seconds remaining and a lot of incredulous-looking faces around the rink – including the one behind the Dragons’ bench.

Duxbury escaped with a point and a 2-2 tie.

“That why you have to play to the final whistle,” Blake said.

And it was those minor victories that helped Duxbury (0-0-1) get even.

“There were a little bit better on every one-on-one battle, I told my coaching staff, I thought that was the difference,” Barnstable head coach Scott Nickerson said. “And it showed itself in the end.”

After a scoreless first period, the Dragons asserted their will down low on the cycle through the second. Duxbury dominated the territorial play and was rewarded with the first goal of the game at 7:14, with senior captain Nick Marrocco sliding a back-hander past Huska from the top of the crease. O’Brien and Shawn Errasti picked up the assists.

Yet, Barnstable (2-0-1) showed resiliency, striking back before the period was out. Junior defenseman Michael McDonough stepped into the play to tie it with 26 seconds remaining in the second.

The Red Raiders also transferred the momentum into the third, scoring on its first shot on goal of the period. Junior winger Cody Pasic scored his fourth goal in three games at 3:50 of the third.

Despite peppering Huska with 11 shots during the final 14-plus minutes, the Dragons were unable to find the equalizer.

Ultimately, they just wanted it a little more in the end.

“Everybody just has to bear down, get their guy, win the faceoff and get it to the net,” O’Brien said of the game-tying push. “It’s all mental toughness at that point.”

He continued, “When you have a little letdown when they score, it’s hard to pick the boys back up. But once you do, we started rolling, controlling the play and we were all over them.”

The onslaught: Duxbury could have widened its lead in the second, when the Dragons had four of their five power-play opportunities.

But, while they weren’t able to cash in, the Dragons continued pushing the issue while working the puck down low and set up the cycle below the dots.

“We feel that our strength is our speed and skill up front, and our top nine forwards are very skilled,” Blake said. “We want to really keep that puck down low, really work it down low. We feel like we have an advantage over most teams with our forwards going against their defensemen.”

The answer: Again, as the Red Raiders came to rely upon him last season, Huska was the backbone to their hopes on Wednesday.

Barnstable’s blue-line corps isn’t too deep, as Nickerson conceded after last year’s roster turnover, but the Red Raiders’ top three of Donnie Brodd, Chris Fowler and McDonough is steady and rugged.

But the group thrives when the senior netminder is on point.

“He’s a competitor,” Nickerson said of Huska. “He’s a goalie with a big heart and he does whatever he has to do to stop the puck. When you have that, the team becomes more competitive. When you have a backstop like that, you’re in every game, or at least you should be.”

Filling the void: For Barnstable, dealing with the graduation of an All-State caliber player in Max Willman and the defection of last year’s top-scorer Connor Fries to prep school has left the offense a little thin.

However, the Red Raiders are averaging five goals a game in the early going, spurred on by a host of forwards who’ve already exceed their production from last season.

Take Pasic for example. In his sophomore season last year, Pasic had just one point. Through three games of the 2013-14 campaign, he already has eight.

Senior Cam Curtin also has five points thus far after scratching the score sheet just once last year.

“It’s not an excuse, but we’re young, and we’re learning,” Nickerson said.

D1 South Baseball: Walpole 8, Barnstable 4

June, 4, 2013
6/04/13
11:16
PM ET
WALPOLE, Mass. -– As far as Walpole coach Bill Tompkins is concerned the longer the game and the tougher the opposition the better.

Tompkins’ philosophy was underscored Tuesday when the top-seeded Rebels twice rallied for an 8-4 victory over No. 8 seed Barnstable in an MIAA Division 1 South quarterfinal game.

“You know I’m an advocate of nine innings,” Tompkins said after the Rebels (19-3) came from behind for the second consecutive tournament game. “We play nine innings in the Bay State League and I think that’s a huge factor for us –- a real huge factor for us.

“We’re also a Division 2 club. We play Division 1 clubs all the time, nine innings. That’s why I like to pop up and play (D-I teams). We can compete against these teams.”

Besides the fact his team “competed,” Tompkins paid the Red Raiders (13-7) a great deal of respect.

“That’s the best team we’ve played this year,” he said. “I was really impressed with that team. They ran, they were good hitters and they played good defense. That pitcher (Dan Holzman) was real tough. We knew he had thrown before and he was tough.

“We felt that if we could keep it close and work him into the late innings he might get tired or slow down a little bit. We also noticed he had more trouble throwing strikes from the stretch than he did from the windup. Our kids are battlers and they’re nine-innings tested. We know it’s a long ballgame and we can come back. We did it before and we did it today.”

Red Raiders strike first: Barnstable nipped Walpole starter Tom Farrow for a first-inning run on consecutive singles by Dan Walsh, Dylan Morris and Terrence Muchia.

The Red Raiders scored twice in the fourth –- the highlight being Cody Pasic’s booming triple.

But Barnstable got one run back in the fourth on Boston College-bound John Adams triple and Cam Hanley’s groundout.

The Rebels tied it in the fifth on Ian Fair’s double, Mike Rando’s single and Bobby Ivatts single. But Barnstable took what proved to be its last lead in the seventh on Chris Fowler’s double, a wild pitch and Walsh’s single off reliever and eventual winner Nick Cordopatri.

Walpole exploded for five runs in the seventh on four hits, one walk, one error and a hit batter.

Ian Fair, who reached on a single, scored the tying run on a wild pitch.

Then Hanley delivered the key hit, a two-run single that produced a 6-4 lead.

“(Hanley) had the key hit but our lineup up and down produced today,” Tompkins said. “Rando had three hits. Bobby Ivatts, who’s been in a little bit of a slump, got a big hit. Obviously, Adams is a hitter. Fair got three hits near the bottom of the order.

“I thought Tommy Farrow kept us in the ballgame (he worked 6 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on nine hits replete with zero walks and five strikeouts). He’s a battler. He mixes his speed. He’s not overpowering.”

Confidence not lacking: Barnstable coach Joe DeMartino expressed the opinion that from pitch one to pitch last, his team never was out of contention.

“We held our confidence the whole game,” DeMartino said. “There were a couple plays that allowed them to score a few runs in one inning. But you couldn’t feel it on our bench.

“We were confident. We had every thought in the world that we were going to win this ballgame. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way but you must give the guys credit for having that type of attitude.”

D1 South: Barnstable 5, Weymouth 2

March, 4, 2013
3/04/13
12:47
AM ET
BOURNE – It was like the tortoise and the hare except that the hare won.

Three third-period goals powered Barnstable past Weymouth 5-2 Saturday at a packed Gallo Arena. The Red Raiders advance to take on Hingham in the Division 1 South semifinals Wednesday night at Gallo.

“This team here has fought hard,” Barnstable coach Scott Nickerson said. “We played well. I think we’ve overachieved to get where we’re at. I thought we played well.”

Barnstable senior Max Willman turned the game into his own personal highlight reel. Willman scored three goals, including an empty-netter to seal the deal, but both he and Nickerson said he could have done even more.

“On the score sheet it looked like he had a fantastic game, but I thought he could have had three or four more,” Nickerson said. “It sounds crazy, the kid had a hat trick and I’m knocking him, but we’re going to be successful because of him. If he had a couple early that he missed it could have been a little bit different.”

“I had a couple of breakaways that I missed, but that happens,” Willman said. “All that matters is that we picked up the W.”

The Red Raiders assaulted Weymouth goalie Kurt Gutting early with 17 first-period shots, but Gutting turned aside 16 of them. Willman’s first goal was answered by Weymouth’s Kevin Morrissey just over two minutes later to tie the game after one.

Weymouth had a much stronger period in the second. The Wildcats were able to dictate tempo and make Barnstable junior Kevin Huska work between the pipes.

Willman scored his second of the game midway through the period, but junior forward Steve Ganley put one past Huska just 75 seconds later to tie it at two.

After that Huska locked it down and turned aside Weymouth’s final nine shots. He had 17 saves during the game.

“I expect him to make saves,” Nickerson said. “He’s got us here. He played well tonight.”

Weymouth pressed during the third period, but the attack, led by juniors Pat Coleman and Joe Flanagan, couldn’t solve Huska in the final frame.

A rocket from Chris Fowler at 6:33 of the third period put the Red Raiders ahead for good. Eric Rogerzenski added the dagger for Barnstable 2:10 later.

“We had a lot of chances; lot of breakaways that we didn’t capitalize on,” Weymouth head coach Marty King said. “They’re a real good team. We never gave up though and that’s why I’m proud of them.”

With a date against perennial power Hingham looming, Willman said that there was still much work for him, and the Red Raiders, to do.

“This is huge,” Willman said. “It’s farther than we got last year, so it’s a bonus. But we’ve got still got to work hard to get to where we need.”

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