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O'Keefe, Cunningham Help Junior Redmen Squirts Win Two Of Three Games

Oct 16, 2014 05:04PM ● By Bill Gilman

The Jr. Redmen Squirt AAA Hockey Team completed a busy weekend of hockey, playing 3 games in a span of 24 hours, and hit their pillows Sunday night going 2-1 in the 3 games.

The Jr. Redmen started their busy weekend of hockey on Saturday evening at Kasbuski Rink in Saugus with a solid 5-1 win against a talented Wakefield Warrior team.  The Jr. Redmen came out flying and created early offensive zone pressure as the line of Ryan Flynn, Will Rosato, and Jason Cooke moved the pucks crisply in the offensive zone resulting in 2 point-blank chances that the Warrior goalie turned away.

The Warriors started to use their speed and created some pressure of their own but outstanding defensive work from Andrew Grieco and Jonny Norwood kept the game scoreless for the majority of the opening period.  The Jr. Redmen scored 2 late period goals in a 22 second span to take a 2-0 lead.  Matthew Cooke got the Jr. Redmen on the board first with 1:31 left in the period as he intercepted a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone, skated in alone, and beat the Warrior goalie with a nice shot through the 5-hole.  Conor Cremin used his tremendous speed to create another breakaway and sent a beautiful wrist shot just under the crossbar for the 2-0 lead, assist on the goal to Billy Doherty.

The Jr. Redmen quickly increased their lead to 3-0 with just under 1 minute gone in the 2nd period as they took advantage of the powerplay when Jason Cooke fired a bomb from the right point past the Warrior goalie, assists to Matthew Cooke and Brady Chapman.  The Warriors battled right back, cutting the lead to 3-1 with just over 8 minutes to play in the 2nd period.  Jr. Redmen goalie Ben O’Keefe made 3 highlight reel saves on the next shift to keep the 2-goal lead for the Jr. Redmen.

The Jr. Redmen nearly regained their 3-goal lead late in the middle period but quality scoring chances from Billy Doherty and Andrew Della Piana were saved by the talented Warrior goalie.  The 3rd period started with the Warriors controlling play but they were unable to get past the steel-curtain defense of Daniel Kierce and Jack Griffin.

The Jr. Redmen took a 4-1 lead with 5:37 left in the game when Jonny Norwood fired a hard wrist shot from the right point past the Warrior goalie.  James Kierce closed out the scoring for the Jr. Redmen just 1:15 later as he buried a rebound past the sliding goalie for the 5-1 lead, assist to Brady Chapman.  The Jr. Redmen relied on great goaltending from Ben O’Keefe and solid team defense to close out the game with a well-deserved 5-1 win.

The Jr. Redmen were back at the rink on Sunday afternoon for a battle with Cape Ann at the Haverhill Valley Forum.  The Jr. Redmen knew they would have their hands full with a talented and speedy team from Cape Ann.  The game started with both teams using their speed and aggressiveness to create offensive zone chances.  Andrew Della Piana, James Kierce, and Brady Chapman had 2 early chances but the Cape Ann goalie was there to shut the door.  Cape Ann was not able to get quality scoring chances early on thanks to solid defense from Andrew Grieco, Jonny Norwood, Daniel Kierce and Jack Griffin. 

The final 3 minutes of the opening period turned into an offensive explosion as the 2 teams combined for 3 quick goals.  Cape Ann struck first with 3:40 left in the 1st period.

Jason Cooke tied the game 42 seconds later on a beautiful deke move, assist to Daniel Kierce.  The boys from Cape Ann regained their lead just 1:02 later on a questionable hooking call against the Jr. Redmen.  The 2nd and 3rd periods turned into two exciting, fast-paced periods of hockey that had the fans in attendance on the edge of their seats.  The speedy line of Billy Doherty, Conor Cremin, and Matthew Cooke created several scoring chances but they were unable to get pucks into the back of the net thanks to some great goaltending from the Cape Ann netminder.  

Not to be outdone, Jr. Redmen super-goalie Ben O’Keefe stood on his head for the final two periods to keep his team in the game.  The Jr. Redmen nearly tied the game midway through the final period when Will Rosato fired a hard wrister that the Cape Ann goalie kicked out to Ryan Flynn but Flynn’s rebound shot just slid wide of the net.  The Jr. Redmen pulled their goalie for an extra attacker and nearly tied the game but the clock hit zero just as Matthew Cooke was headed over the blueline on a breakaway, ending the game with a 2-1 loss for the Jr. Redmen.

The Jr. Redmen did not have much time to rest as they had to travel to Janas Rink for a battle with the New England Bulldogs on Sunday evening.  Looking to rebound from their first loss of the season, the Jr. Redmen came out flying and created some early scoring chances from the line of James Kierce, Conor Cremin, and Billy Doherty.  The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard first with 10:40 left in the opening period.

The Bulldogs kept attacking but great defensive work from Jack Griffin and Daniel Kierce kept the score at 1-0.  The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead with 2:09 left in the 1st period, scoring a pretty powerplay goal.  The Jr. Redmen fought right back and cut the lead to 2-1 with 55 seconds left in the period on a nice goal by Will Rosato, assists to Jason Cooke and Andrew Della Piana.

The 2nd period turned into an offensive eruption for the Jr. Redmen as they scored 4 goals in a span of 8 minutes.  Jason Cooke got it started, tying the game 2-2, with 12:34 left in the period, assist to Andrew Della Piana.  The Jr. Redmen want on the powerplay and took a 3-2 lead just 54 seconds after tying the game when Jason Cooke fired a bomb from the right point, assists to Billy Doherty and Andrew Della Piana. 

The Jr. Redmen increased that lead to 4-2 just 2:12 later when Andrew Della Piana tapped in a beautiful cross-crease pass from Jason Cooke.  The Jr. Redmen closed out the scoring barrage with just under 4 minutes to play in the 2nd period when Matthew Cooke scored on a one-timer from the left face-off circle, assist to Brady Chapman.  The Bulldogs cut the lead to 5-3 with just over 1 minute play in the 2nd period.  The Bulldogs opened the 3rd period looking to regain control of the game but Andrew Grieco and Jonny Norwood played rock solid defense to keep the 2 goal lead for the Jr. Redmen.

The Bulldogs were finally able to cut the lead to 5-4 with 6:20 left in the game when Tewksbury’s own Ethan Torrisi scored on a great individual effort.  The Jr. Redmen fought right back and regained their 2-goal lead when Ryan Flynn fired a one-time backhander under the sliding Bulldog goalie, assist on the goal went to Brady Chapman.

The final 5 minutes of the game were dominated by the Bulldogs but Squirt AA super-goalie Megan Cunningham (called up to fill in for Ben O’Keefe) made a series of saves that had fans from both teams cheering for her. The Bulldogs called a late timeout and pulled their goalie for an extra attacker but solid team defense secured the 6-4 win for the Jr. Redmen.

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