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Your Tewksbury Today

Near Perfect Start For TMHS Hockey Team

Dec 13, 2014 08:47PM ● By Rick Spencer

Junior forward Dario Riparo (18) shoots as senior forwards Ryan Meade (5) and David Dempsey (12) crash the net.

HAVERHILL -- It didn't take long for the Tewksbury High ice hockey team to live up to the lofty billing that the preseason prognosticators have bestowed on the Redmen this year.
Coach Derek Doherty's TMHS skaters showed exactly why ESPN Boston has Tewksbury ranked as the No. 1 team among Division 2 programs in Massachusetts Saturday afternoon, as the Redmen dominated all phases of the game in taking a one-sided, season-opening 3-0 victory over Haverhill  at Veteran's Memorial Arena.
"It was a good start. We played well," Doherty said after watching his team out-skate, out-hit and out-shoot Haverhill by a 40-11 margin in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the score indicates. "We knew we had to play four lines this year. We have to go out and try to wear teams down and that's what we did tonight. " 
Tewksbury enjoyed an enormous advantage in time of possession in this one, as it took the Hillies at least five minutes before they even scratched the surface of the ice in the TMHS defensive zone. The Redmen didn't get onto the scoreboard until the early stages of the second period, but apart from a first-period breakaway shot that banged off the post, Haverhill never really threatened to score. TMHS junior goaltender Chris Raymond, who has taken over for injured senior Kyle Paquette, turned away all 11 shots he faced and earned his first career shut out.
"I thought Chris played well," Doherty said. "We tried to eliminate shots from inside and hold them to perimeter shots and hope he made the saves, and he did."
Posting a clean sheet in his first career start was a huge plus for Raymond, as he will be manning the Tewksbury nets for at least the first 10 games of the season, while Paquette, who has been the Tewksbury starter for the past three years, recovers from an ankle injury suffered during soccer season.
"It was big, real big," said Doherty of Raymond's shut out. "I think it brings his confidence up a bit. He knows he can do it now. We got the dust off him and here we go."
Tewksbury employed a short-shift strategy against the Hillies, changing lines frequently and keeping constant pressure on the Haverhill defensemen, with at least two forwards relentlessly fore-checking deep.
"We're trying to wear teams down," Doherty said. "We're trying to just go, go, go with our four lines. We do have the luxury of that right now. We've got a lot of guys returning and most of them know what to do. So the third and fourth lines can give the first two lines a rest."
Junior defenseman Sean Brady scored his first and the team's first goal of the season just 1:12 into the second period, blasting a shot from the point after taking a pass from junior forward Dario Riparo. Senior forward Colin Quinn made it 2-0 just 30 seconds later when he took a nifty pass from sophomore forward Ryan Sheehan and slid it home for his first goal of the season.
The only time the game was in doubt after that was when the Redmen were whistled for two minor penalties within 15 seconds of each other in the final minute of the second period. They played two men down for the first 1:24 of the third period, but Raymond and the Tewksbury defense made all the right moves, allowing only one shot on goal while successfully killing off the double penalties.
"That was huge," Doherty said. "Coming into the locker room after the second period, that was the focus. If we had given up a goal, all of a sudden it's 2-1 early in the third, and things rotate.
"Our defense definitely stood tall," Doherty added. "We've been focusing on making sure that the house is covered. We want to block shots and not leave rebounds out there, get it right out. And they did a good job with that."
Senior forward Patrick Leonard sealed the deal when he dug up a rebound out of a scramble in front of the Haverhill net and scored his first goal of the season (unassisted) to make it 3-0 with 4:38 left in the game, giving the Redmen their first road win and their first Merrimack Valley Conference/Dual County League victory of the season.
"It's a good way to start the season," Doherty said. "It was a league game, so it was very important for us. The league is going to be really tough this year."
The Redmen return to return to action with their home opener against MVC/DCL rival Chelmsford at Tewksbury's Breakaway Ice Center Wednesday night at 7:30.

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