Boston High School: Mark Bittrolff
January, 12, 2014
By Josh Perry | ESPNBoston.com
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Sophomore goaltender Mike Purnell made 31 saves to help Medway beat Medfield, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon at Pirelli Veterans Skating Arena and, in the process, ended its Tri-Valley League rival’s unbeaten start to the season.
Medway head coach Chris Ross was full of praise for his young goalie, who made 11 saves in a hectic first period and went on to stop 13 in the third, as the Mustangs were clinging to a one-goal lead.
He commented, “One of my favorite hockey quotes by Jack Parker, he said, ‘They should rename the game goalie.’ I fell very blessed that we have a good goalie.”
Purnell gave much of the credit to his communication with his defensemen, as Medfield controlled most of the possession in the attacking zone and outshot the Mustangs 33-15.
“There was a lot of talk from the goaltender to the defense to the wings,” Purnell said. “That’s a big part of hockey. If you can communicate it makes the play flow better and we were able to do that. It’s a good win.”
The Mustangs (5-2-1, 3-1-1) jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 39 seconds into the game. Josh O’Toole, shooting from the right circle, had his shot slip past Medfield’s sophomore goalie Matt Malvese.
Medfield head coach Toby Carlow admitted that an early goal like that can change a team’s whole approach to the game.
“The first period was a terrible period,” he said. “It’s tough because these guys are young kids and they sometimes get off their game plan really easy, especially when that happens, and then it struggles to get back on track and that’s exactly what happened.”
Medfield (6-1-1, 5-1-0) responded a little more than two minutes after the opening goal. Justin Hirschfeld knocked in a loose puck just two seconds after a Mustangs penalty ended. The Warriors gained momentum from the goal and controlled play, but with 3:53 left in the period Medway struck again when Mark Bittrolff’s shot from the point somehow found the top corner for a shorthanded goal to make it 2-1.
The Medway penalty kill would get plenty of work in the opening period. Although it went down as just two power play opportunities for the Warriors, Medway took four penalties in the first period and, at one point, were on the kill for a stretch of more than three minutes that included a pair of 5-on-3 situations.
“We had two 5-on-3’s in a row and those guys just did a great job,” said Ross. “We dedicate a lot of time in practice to special teams because these things pop up all the time in high school hockey. Those guys just executed perfectly tonight.”
Regarding his team’s power play, Carlow noted, “We just didn’t shoot. We didn’t do enough to get the puck to the net. Their guys did a good job keeping the puck outside, but we didn’t make them make mistakes, which you have to do on a power play.”
The Mustangs extended their lead four minutes into the second period. After a Medfield turnover in the defensive zone, Jared Reynolds slipped a pass across the crease to freshman Adam Dwyer, who knocked it past Dan Graham (who had taken over in goal for the Warriors) for what turned out to be the game-winner.
Medfield cut the lead to one with 9:18 left in the second. As a Medway power play ended, a loose puck found sophomore Matt Treiber charging up ice and Patrick Lawler came out of the penalty box to make it a 2-on-1. Treiber did not need his teammate but instead ripped a wrist shot into the roof of the net to make it 3-2.
In the final 10 seconds of the second period, Medway nearly doubled the lead, but Mike Boldy could not finish a breakaway chance and Graham smothered a pair of shots from close range.
In the third period, Medfield was desperate to find a game-tying goal and put 13 shots on Purnell, but the sophomore held firm and the Mustangs continually cleared the puck from the front of the net.
The win was clearly important to Medway, as the players stormed the ice on the final whistle and surrounded Purnell behind his net.
The goalie remarked, “It’s a confidence boost, you know. We weren’t playing that well in the past couple of games, but we stepped our game up here and hopefully we can just move on from here.”
Ross added, “I told the boys in there that this is one of my proudest moments as a coach…I thought it was a whole team effort. I’m beyond thrilled right now.”