Redmen Fall To Billerica, 4-2
Jan 31, 2015 11:37PM
By Rick Spencer
Senior forward David Dempsey (12) crashes the net but cannot slam the puck home against Billerica.
If the Tewksbury High Redmen looked nothing like the team that had won nine of its first 10 games this season on Saturday night, well, it’s because they really weren’t.
“That wasn’t our kind of hockey,” said TMHS head coach Derek Doherty after his team dropped a 4-2 decision to Billerica High at the Hallenborg Ice Arena. “We didn’t play our systems tonight. We were running around. I just don’t think the kids stuck to the systems. It got away from them.”
Tewksbury looked uncharacteristically disorganized and lacked anything that looked like a consistent offensive attack on Saturday, as the Redmen let a 2-1 first period lead slip away and lost for just the third time in 13 games this season.
TMHS actually outshot Billerica by a 32-21 margin on this night, but many of Tewksbury’s shots were blocked in front of the net, or handled routinely by Indian netminder Scott Murphy.
“They blocked a lot of shots and we spoke about that in between periods,” Doherty said. “We were shooting pucks into guys. I don’t think it’s so much that they we’re blocking shots, I don’t think we were taking the time to look up and see what (options) we have and make a good play.”
Things looked ominous from the start on Saturday as Billerica scored its first goal just 16 seconds into the first period when sophomore forward Jack Waldman streaked down the left wing and beat TMHS keeper Kyle Paquette high to the glove side.
Redman senior captain Ryan Petti tied the score at 1-1 when he scored the first of his two goals on the night with five minutes gone in the first period, with Ryan Sheehan assisting. Petti gave Tewksbury a 2-1 lead with three minutes left in the first period on an unassisted sniper shot from the top of the right circle. It was Petti’s 18th goal of the season to go with 17 assists. Petti’s 35 points are tops among all Division 2 players in Massachusetts so far this year.
But the Tewksbury lead was short lived, as Billerica’s Cal Johnson scored the equalizer with just 90 seconds left in the first period, stealing Tewksbury’s momentum, at least temporarily.
The best chance the Redmen had at taking control of this game came early in the second period, when a frustrated Billerica team got caught retaliating for several hard Tewksbury checks. The Indians were whistled for three consecutive penalties in the first half of the second period, but Tewksbury couldn’t capitalize on over four minutes of power play time. On the night, Tewksbury went 0-for-8 on man-advantage opportunities.
“We should have taken advantage of the fact that Billerica was getting out of control,” Doherty said. “They were running around, screaming and yelling, high sticking. They were a mess and we didn’t take advantage of it.”
Worse, Johnson notched his second goal of the night for Billerica with less than three minutes to play in the second period, putting the Indians ahead for good at 3-2.
The Redmen battled hard for the equalizer in the third period, but their offense never really clicked, and Billerica sealed the deal with a tip-in goal from senior forward Connor Lightner with three minutes to play, handing Tewksbury a frustrating loss, its second in the last three games.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Doherty said. “Hopefully we can learn from these games that we’ve lost because I think we’ve lost to three teams that, personally, I don’t think are as good as we are. We have a lot of talent in the locker room but I think the kids aren’t sticking to the systems and they’re not playing the way they should.
“We have systems in place and they’re simple,” Doherty added. “Most of these kids have been playing for me for three or four years now and they know them and they know them well. They were playing the systems well in the beginning of the year and that’s why we won eight games in a row.”
Tewksbury, now 10-3 overall, will try to get back on the winning track with a non-league home game against Austin Prep Monday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Breakaway Ice Center.