Boston High School: Conor Helfrich
January, 4, 2012
By Brendan Hall | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Things were going by swimmingly, almost sleepy, through the first 18 minutes of play between Lawrence Academy and Thayer Academy, on the ice at Fenway Park.
Then things went untracked -- and in hurry.
The Spartans (10-1-1) opened up the second period with three goals in a span of 1:24 to blow the game wide open, making life difficult for Thayer goaltenders Robert McGovern and Pat Finn with rush after rush, en route to a 6-0 win in the third game of the day at today's "Frozen Fenway" series.
"That's probably one of the shortest in a while," said senior forward Devin Tringale (two goals, assist) when asked about the last time he'd been a part of such a quick scoring flurry. "I can't remember last time."
Lawrence's "Red Line" of Tringale, George Hunkele and Tyler Whitney combined for seven points to carry much of the scoring, and the chemistry between the three was evident in the second period scoring spree.
"They played great," head coach Kevin Potter said of the line. "They've been playing together all year long, and really it's been a three-line effort, but they got some good goals tonight."
Tringale found the back of the net just 24 seconds in, when he took a beautiful Whitney feed on an odd-man rush, set up right outside McGovern's crease. Bill Messa was next, scoring a minute later at 1:25, and Conor Helfrich made it 3-0 just 25 seconds later with some tic-tac-toe action. Defenseman Jacob Schefter brought the puck through the neutral zone down the left boards before skipping it up to Tom Newton, who tipped it across the slot for an easy glove-side goal.
Lawrence scored twice more in the period, with another Tringale finish in front and a shorthanded goal from Matt Baldino, for the 5-0 advantage.
Thayer fell to 2-8.
Lockdown D triggers breakout
Sparking the Spartans' exceptional play through the neutral zone was some crisp passing from the back end by defensemen like Connor McGuirk and Matt Doherty, triggering breakouts with long darts up the flanks. The defensive pairings won many 50-50 battles along the boards, and gave the Tigers little breathing room between the circles, denying entry passes. Goaltender Nathaniel Heilbron picked up the shutout with 17 saves, but admitted it was made an easy night.
That carried up the ice, where transition play was a key point in scouting heading into this game.
"We've been working on that in practice, getting our feet moving," Tringale said. "So I think that was key going into it, a lot of transition play that we've been working on. It just clicked today, and that's what helped us be effective."
Said Potter, "We knew they were young, we've got a much older team than they are, so we knew they were gonna try to bottle us up. So we just tried to support the puck, and we've got a lot of seniors out there that knew what they were doing, and with a lot of skill. We just practiced breaking the trap, and stuff like that."
The Spartans were also efficient with a man down, killing off all three of the Tigers' power play opportunities with good economy of motion.
"We really worked on that this week, a lot of starting and stopping, all the little things," Potter said. "Again, we have a lot of experience there."
First time for Vancouverite
A repeated theme throughout the "Frozen Fenway" series will be the awed experience of playing an outdoor hockey game at one of the nation's oldest and most beloved ballparks. Players like Tringale soaked in the allure -- "It's a blast," he smiled to reporters -- though the Medford native admits it's not his first experience with outdoor hockey. He first learned the sport as a youth learning to skate on a pond near his house, and noted similarities between the ice texture with that pond's and Fenway's.
But for Heilbron, a native of West Vancouver, tonight's game was his first such endeavor.
"It doesn't get cold enough out there, too close to the ocean," he said. "[This] is surreal, incredible. It's so much fun, just...you can't really say anything about it until you get on the ice -- I've seen the Winter Classic games on TV -- but just being out there is unbelievable."