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Jr. Redmen Just Miss State Championship Win

Mar 19, 2015 12:40PM ● Published by Kieran Gilman

Front Row: James Kierce, Jonny Norwood, Matthew Cooke, Conor Cremin, Ben O'Keefe, Andrew Grieco, and William Rosato 2nd Row: Andrew Della Piana, Brady Chapman, Ryan Flynn, Jason Cooke, Daniel Kierce, Billy Doherty, and Jack Griffin Back Row: Assistant Coach Brian Kierce, Assistant Coach BJ Doherty, Head Coach Michael Chapman, Assistant Coach Sean O'Keefe

Gallery: State Championship Tournament [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

(Editor's Note: The following information was submitted by the coaches of the Jr. Redmen.)

The Jr. Redmen Squirt AAA Hockey Team competed in the Massachusetts Tier 2 State Championships over the weekend of March 13th-15th at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, MA.  The Jr. Redmen swept through their division with a 3-0 record, dominating play as they outscored their opponents 18-2.  A 1-0 Semi-final win over Lynnfield-Saugus led to an epic Double OT 2-1 loss to the Triton Vikings in the Championship Game.

On Friday March 13th the Jr. Redmen faced the host Twin City Hawks in a late afternoon battle.   The Jr. Redmen knew they would all have to step up their game as they would have to play the entire weekend without one of their leading scorers and players, Matthew Cooke.  The locals came out flying and took a 1-0 lead just 4:25 into the game on a powerplay goal by Andrew Della Piana, assists on the PP goal going to Brady Chapman and Conor Cremin.  The Jr. Redmen dominated the remainder of the 1st period but high-quality scoring chances from Ryan Flynn, William Rosato and Billy Doherty were turned away by the talented Hawks’ goalie.  

The Jr. Redmen opened the 2nd period quickly as they increased their lead to 2-0 on a highlight reel goal by Jason Cooke as he deked and toe-dragged around the Hawks’ defense before firing the puck into the top corner, assists going to Jonny Norwood and Jack Griffin.  The Hawks battled back and were able to tie the game 2-2 midway through the middle period.  The Jr. Redmen regained their lead with 2:59 left in the period on Jason Cooke’s 2nd goal of the game, assists to Billy Doherty and Andrew Della Piana.   

The 3rd period started with the Hawks controlling play but great defensive efforts from Andrew Grieco and Daniel Kierce along with some amazing saves by goalie Ben O’Keefe kept the 1-goal lead for the Jr. Redmen.  Jason Cooke scored his 3rd goal of the game for the hat trick with 7:02 left in the game, assists to James Kierce and Brady Chapman.  The Jr. Redmen controlled play for the final 6-plus minutes of the game and left the rink with a solid 4-2 win.

The Jr. Redmen were back at the rink on Saturday March 14th for an 8am game against the Medfield Warriors.  The Jr. Redmen jumped out to an early lead as they scored 3 goals in the first 6 minutes of the game.  Brady Chapman got things started as he fired home a nasty wrister from the slot area with just 1:29 gone in the opening period, assists to Jonny Norwood and Daniel Kierce.  Jason Cooke made it 2-0 just 2:10 later on a pretty deke move, assists on the goal to Daniel Kierce and Andrew Della Piana.  Cooke then scored his 2nd goal of the game on a powerplay as he fired a bomb from the left point into the top corner of the net, assists to Conor Cremin and William Rosato.  Any attempt by the Warriors to gain some offensive zone pressure was denied by the rock-solid defense played by Andrew Grieco, Jack Griffin, and the Kierce brothers James and Daniel.  

The Jr. Redmen increased their lead to 4-0 midway through the 2nd period on a goal by Andrew Della Piana, assists to Brady Chapman and Andrew Grieco.  Goalie Ben O’Keefe was tested late in the 2nd period and came up with some huge saves to keep the shutout intact.  

The locals exploded for 3 goals in a 4-minute span to open the 3rd period to take a 7-0 lead.  Andrew Della Piana scored his 2nd goal of the game on a pretty deke move around the Warrior goalie, assists to Billy Doherty and Brady Chapman.    Jonny Norwood then scored on a hard wrister high over the goalie’s blocker for the 6-0 lead, assists to Conor Cremin and Andrew Grieco.  Andrew Della Piana closed out the scoring with his 3rd goal of the game for the hat trick, assists to James Kierce and Brady Chapman.   The Jr. Redmen controlled play for the final 5 minutes of the game and left the rink with a convincing win and a 2-0 record in the States.

After a short rest, the boys refueled with a team lunch and headed back to the rink for a 4pm battle with the Pioneer Valley Lightning.  The Jr. Redmen jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Brady Chapman, assist to Conor Cremin and William Rosato.  Pioneer Valley used their speed to create some offensive zone pressure but Jr. Redmen goalie Ben O’Keefe was there to make all the big saves.  

The Jr. Redmen opened the 2nd period by scoring 3 goals in a 5-minute span to take a 4-0 lead.  Billy Doherty got things started as he fired a rocket past the Lightning goalie, assists to Jason Cooke and Andrew Grieco.  Andrew Della Piana scored 1:04 later on a nifty wrister through the 5-hole, assists to Ryan Flynn and James Kierce.  Della Piana scored his 2nd goal of the game for the 4-0 lead on the powerplay, assists to Jason Cooke and Daniel Kierce.  

Headed into the 3rd period the locals knew a win would mean a spot in the State Semi-finals on Sunday.  The boys came out and dominated the final period.  Conor Cremin scored to make the score 5-0 just 1:16 into the period, asssits to Andrew Della Piana and Brady Chapman.  Andrew Della Piana scored his 3rd goal of the game and his 2nd hat trick of the day, assists to Conor Cremin and Jack Griffin.  Ryan Flynn closed out the scoring for the Jr. Redmen as he was rewarded for his hard work, firing a hard wrister under the sliding goalie for the 7-0 lead, assists going to Andrew Grieco and James Kierce.  The Jr. Redmen played great team defense for the final 3 minutes of the game, securing the 2nd straight shutout for their super-goalie Ben O’Keefe.

On Sunday March 15th the Jr. Redmen had a spot in Semi-final Game #1 against a talented Lynnfield-Saugus Stars team.  The Stars controlled play for the first 4 minutes of the game but were unable to get any pucks past Jr. Redmen goalie Ben O’Keefe, who made a series of saves that had the Stars’ fans cheering for him.  The Jr. Redmen picked up their play midway through the 1st period but quality scoring chances from William Rosato, Conor Cremin, and Jason Cooke were turned away by the Stars’ goalie.  

The 2nd period opened with both teams using their speed, quickness, and aggressive style of play to create offensive zone pressure.  The Jr. Redmen once again got outstanding efforts from their defensive unit of James Kierce, Andrew Grieco, Jack Griffin, and Daniel Kierce.  These 4 have established themselves as one of the best defensive units in Mass. Hockey at the Squirt level.  Jonny Norwood and Ryan Flynn used their tenacious forechecking to create turnovers in the Stars’ zone but their shots were turned away.  The Jr. Redmen went on the powerplay with just under 3 minutes to play in the 2nd period and the PP unit delivered.  Crisp puck movement around the perimeter of the zone led to the puck on the stick of Daniel Kierce at the right point.  Kierce walked in and fired a bomb over the goalie’s shoulder and into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead, assists to Andrew Della Piana and Brady Chapman.  The Jr. Redmen nearly took a 2-0 lead with time winding down in the 2nd period but Billy Doherty’s point blank snap shot rang off the left post.  

The 3rd period turned into a high-pressure, fast-paced battle between two great teams.  The Stars created early offensive zone chances but once again great goaltending from Ben O’Keefe and great team defense turned away any Stars’ chances.  With time winding down in the 3rd period the Stars pulled their goalie for an extra attacker.  The Stars had a great chance to tie the game with just over 30 seconds left in the game but goalie Ben O’Keefe was able to survive a pig-pile scrum in front of his net and tie up the loose puck.  The Stars won the ensuing offensive zone faceoff and with just under 10 seconds left in the game a hard wrister from the left faceoff circle was headed towards the Jr. Redmen net  but Daniel Kierce threw  his body in front of the shot and saved a goal  The final seconds ticked off the clock and the once the buzzer sounded the Jr. Redmen had the 1-0 semi-final win (O’Keefe’s 3rd straight shutout) and a spot in the Massachusetts Squirt Tier 2 State Championship Game.

The Jr. Redmen headed back to the hotel for a quick team breakfast and some rest as they knew they would have their hands full with a Triton Vikings team that they have battled this year in the Elite Division of the Valley Hockey League.   All 4 previous games against Triton this year resulting in 1-goal games and the two teams would not disappoint the sellout crown in attendance at Cushing Academy.  Once again the Jr. Redmen had their cheerleading squad in full-force including Abby O’Keefe, Avery Della Piana, Giana Flynn, Vanessa Flynn, Sara Doherty, Molly Kierce, Colleen Cremin, Molly Cremin, Ally Cooke, Cassie Norwood, Lyla Chapman, and Maci Chapman.  

The Vikings came out flying and put immediate pressure on the Jr. Redmen.  Early saves by Ben O’Keefe and solid defense from Andrew Grieco and James Kierce kept the game scoreless.  The Jr. Redmen got their legs moving and created some offensive zone time which led to scoring chances by Ryan Flynn and William Rosato.  The 1st period ended in a scoreless tie.  

The 2nd period opened with the Jr. Redmen nearly taking the lead when Ryan Flynn used his speed to blow past a pair of Viking defenders but his shot just missed the far post.  The Vikings went on the powerplay with just under 7 minutes to play in the middle period and they scored to take a 1-0 lead.  The Jr. Redmen battled right back and with just under 3 minutes to play in the 2nd period nearly tied the game when Jonny Norwood used his speed to intercept a cross-ice pass but his quick writer was snagged by the talented Viking goalie.  

The Jr. Redmen started the 3rd period with a high-energy shift from Andrew Della Piana, Billy Doherty, and Jason Cooke but two great scoring chances from Cooke and Doherty were turned away.  The Vikings had some scoring chances midway through the final period but Daniel Kierce and Jack Griffin each made individual defensive plays to keep the game at 1-0.   The Jr. Redmen pulled their goalie with 1:52 left in the game for an extra attacker.  Scoring chances from Andrew Della Piana and Daniel Kierce were turned away with just under 1 minute to play in the game.  With the clock winding down and the sellout crowd on the edge of their seat the Jr. Redmen tied the game with 38 seconds left when Brady Chapman slid the puck into the back of the net, assists to Conor Cremin and Jason Cooke.   A massive pig pile on top of #24 followed and the Tewksbury crowd was going crazy.  The final 38 seconds ticked off the clock and the State Championship Game was headed to Sudden Death OT.

Triton came out flying in the first 10-minute OT, putting immediate pressure on the Jr. Redmen defense but once again Ben O’Keefe was there to make all the big saves.  With just over 5 minutes to play in the OT period Ryan Flynn sent a beautiful cross-ice pass to Jason Cooke but Cooke’s snap shot ended up in the Viking goalie’s glove.  With time winding down in the 1st OT period speedy #4 from Triton flew through the neutral zone but he was unable to get anywhere near the Jr. Redmen net thanks to the great defense of James Kierce and Andrew Grieco.  

With both teams dead tired after playing 5+ games in a very short time period, the energy from the crowd seemed to push these little hockey players to another level.  Both teams opened the 2nd OT period looking to strike quickly.  Triton had the first chance but Jack Griffin blocked a shot and Conor Cremin used his speed on the backcheck to deny Triton a scoring chance.  The Jr. Redmen fought back and Billy Doherty won a puck battle along the neutral zone boards and quickly sent a cross-ice pass to Andrew Della Piana.  Della Piana skated into the offensive zone and fired a pass into the slot to Brady Chapman but Chapman’s one-timer was kicked out by the Viking goalie.  With just over 3 minutes to play in the 2nd OT the Vikings controlled the puck behind the Jr. Redmen net and quickly sent a pass into the low slot where a Viking forward sent a one-timer into the top corner of the net for the winning goal.


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Sports, Today Ben O'Keefe
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