Paquette, Redmen Shut Down Wilmington, 2-0 For 16th Win
Feb 18, 2015 06:56PM
● By Rick Spencer
Senior forward Ryan Petti (8) scored his 25th goal of the season as Tewksbury shut out Wilmington 2-0.
Tewksbury at Wilmington hockey [8 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
It is often the team with the hottest goaltender that goes deep into post-season play, and if Wednesday afternoon’s 2-0 win over Wilmington is any indication, the Tewksbury High Redmen might be the team with some sizzle between the pipes when the MIAA state tournament begins next week.
Senior goaltender Kyle Paquette turned away all 22 shots he faced, including a third-period penalty shot, posting his third shutout in just eight games played this year to lead Tewksbury High to a decisive non-league win over neighboring rival Wilmington High at Ristuccia Memorial Arena. The win was Tewksbury’s sixth straight victory, and it improves the team’s record to 16-3 with one game left to play in the regular season.
Paquette, who missed the first two months of the season while recovering from an ankle injury he suffered playing soccer this fall, has allowed just 10 goals in the eight games he’s played since returning, for a 1.20 goals against average. He has stopped 138 out of the 148 shots he has faced for a .930 save percentage. His goals against average is the best in the state among MIAA Division 2 goalies. The win was his 50th career victory in the TMHS goal.
“Kyle was just focused today,” said Tewksbury’s head coach Derek Doherty. “He’s all the way back from his injury. He’s ready (for post-season play). I saw it last game. You can see from the way he’s moving. He has no pain. He’s good to go.”
As usual, the Redmen got the lion’s share of their offense from someone named Ryan, as senior centers Ryan Petti and Ryan Meade accounted for the Tewksbury goals, both coming in the first period.
Meade struck first with just 3:57 gone in the first period when he pounced on a loose puck in a scramble in front of the Wilmington net, and jammed it home for his 12th goal of the season, with Dario Riparo picking up the assist. It was Meade’s fourth goal in the last two games, as the second line center notched a hat trick on Monday in Methuen.
Petti, who became Tewksbury’s all-time leading scorer during last Saturday’s Merrimack Valley Conference/Dual County League Division 2 Championship-clinching win over Lincoln-Sudbury, added to his school record with his 25th goal of the season at the 7:09 mark of the first period. Petti pounced on the rebound of a Colin Quinn shot and threw it into an open net to give Tewksbury a 2-0 lead that would be more than enough.
Petti now has 51 points on the season (25 goals and 26 assists), tops among all Division 2 players in the state.
But as prolific as Tewksbury’s first two lines have been of late, it was Paquette and the TMHS defensive corps that sealed the deal on the Wilmington win. The game evolved into a chippy, penalty-filled contest as the two teams were whistled for a combined total of 13 penalties. The Redmen were assessed eight of those 13, but killed them all off successfully, with Petti and Quinn or Meade and Riparo up top on the penalty kill unit, and Brett Morris and Sean Brady logging most of the defensive minutes.
“Our penalty kill has been pretty good all year,” Doherty said. “We don’t give up too many short-handed goals. Our penalty kill team is very aggressive, Our first guy comes in and forces the play and tries to make their guy make a cross ice pass where our defenseman can step up. We play real aggressive.”
The turning point in the game came mid-way through the third quarter, after TMHS forward Mark Gorman was whistled for slashing a Wilmington forward from behind. It was ruled that the slash prevented Wilmington from getting a clear shot on net, and a penalty shot was assessed.
Wildcat junior forward Brian Cavanaugh took the penalty shot, but Paquette forced him right and blocked the shot to preserve his shutout.
“That’s a huge play,” Doherty said. “I can’t remember more than two or three penalty shots in my entire career, and if they score on that play it’s a different game. But we practice that, and Kyle was ready. I could almost tell by the look on his face that he was going to make the play.”
Inspired by Paquette’s big save, the Tewksbury defense stiffened and did not allow Wilmington another serious scoring chance for the rest of the game.
”We didn’t give them a chance to pull their goalie,” Doherty said. “We try not to. That’s our game. I told the kids, 'take them in the neutral zone now. Take some chances, hit ‘em and get the puck out of the zone.'”
The end result was another impressive win for the Redmen, who are now undefeated (6-0) in February and playing some of their best hockey of the season.
“We’re playing hard,” Doherty said “We’re checking hard and making the other teams make mistakes. We’ve been playing that way since the Concord-Carlisle game. Hard. Physical. That’s the way you have to play this time of year.”
Tewksbury wraps up the regular season with a 3:00 p.m. home game Friday afternoon at the Breakaway Ice Center against Catholic Central League powerhouse Austin Prep, which is ranked No. 4 in the state in the latest ESPN-Boston poll. It is senior night for the Redmen, and the graduating seniors will be recognized in a pre-game ceremony.