Tewksbury, MA – Tonight was a matchup of two of the top teams in the MIAA as 11-win Austin Prep took on 8-win Arlington in a battle of teams under consideration for the Super 8 field. This was a competitive game from start to finish, there was a lot of jawing, some pushing and shoving and a quick pace at both ends. In the end, Arlington notched the upset, producing the second loss of the season for the Cougars by a final score of 2-1.
The first period was tit-for-tat with hard rushes in both directions but Austin Prep owned the majority of the territorial battle. The Cougars were slick passing the puck around the structured D and continued to blitz Spy Ponder junior goalie Nate Brennan, who was equal to every shot in the first period. Finally, Arlington used it’s hustle and muscle game to break through 11 minutes in. Senior forward Will Jennings slid behind the Austin Prep net and found junior Drew Malatesta out in front, who went from left to right and slipped the puck past goalie Rob Farrell (Wilmington, MA) to give Arlington a 1-0 lead. You could feel the momentum shift at that point and even as the period ended, both teams knew that this would not be an easy W.
In the second period, the play was more balanced but this time Arlington had the upper hand in terms of possession. Things remained that way until the game rolled to a boil about six minutes in when Austin Prep goalie Rob Farrell took exception to senior Arlington forward Joe Scheschareg who was standing directly in his crease. Shoves turned into headlocks and helmets getting ripped off before everyone on the ice met at the crease to find a dance partner. Once the penalties had been sorted out Farrell was given the additional two minutes for going after Scheschareg and Arlington would capitalize soon after. Junior forward Tyler Callahan swatted at a loose puck in the crease to knock it past Farrell which gave the road team a 2-0 lead. Austin Prep shortly thereafter mounted a comeback and would answer three minutes later. Arlington was called for an infraction and senior captain Max Pineo (North Reading, MA) sliced into the offensive zone and fired a wrister home from the top of the circle on the short side against Brennan: 2-1. The period would feature a few more pushes and shoves, but otherwise ended uneventfully as all eyes moved to the third.
In the final stanza, the action was frenetic with Austin Prep looking to gain the equalizer. The Arlington defense stood tall for the balance of the period: forcing shooters wide and defending the crease well. Brennan stood tall to each shot from the outside, most of which he saw cleanly and absorbed for faceoffs. The action really began to heat until when the clock began to tick with under five minutes to go. The Cougars threw all the speed they had at the Spy Ponders to no avail. The final push came with 1:28 left on the clock after Austin Prep had called a timeout to strategize. 18 seconds later, with the goalie pulled a shot came in from the right that bounced up in the air and landed on its edge behind Brennan and rolled slowly along the line before he pinned it with his right pad and pulled it to safety. There was a lot of questioning of the men in stripes about whether the puck crossed the goal line, but ultimately a new faceoff in the offensive zone was called. Austin Prep tried once more to mount a comeback but could not break through the neutral zone press and Arlington upset the 1-loss Cougars.
- G Nate Brennan, Arlington
- F Tyler Callahan, Arlington
- F Max Pineo, Austin Prep
This game was a really entertaining battle of two contrasting styles. Austin Prep has won its games with an active puck-moving D core, quick twitch forwards and solid goaltending. Arlington, on the other hand, plays more physical, north and south hockey and looks to clog up passing and shooting lanes at all times. At first, it looked as though Austin Prep was too quick at moving the puck for Arlington to stick with them, but the Spy Ponders wore them down with heavy hits and great positioning to take time and space away. That was the key to this game. Both teams will still be top contenders for the Super 8 regardless of this final outcome.
For Arlington, their best players showed up big in this game: defender Jack Simon was excellent on the blue line – he is strong, slick and smart with the puck. He rarely takes bad routes, and still can hold off defenders if he gets in trouble. Forward Will Jennings made a number of great passing plays and looks to have elevated his game from last season. His poise with the puck is rare for this level of hockey. The story of this game was definitely the play of Nate Brennan, who remained calm, cool and collected all game long and made difficult saves look routine at times. His defense definitely blocked a good number of chances, but when the cage was under siege, Brennan came up big to build early momentum for his team.
For Austin Prep, captain Max Pineo was his usual dynamic self, touring the attacking zone on his own with swift and sharp edge work and great acceleration ability. Sophomore forward Joe Solimine (Middleton, MA) continues to impress: he can make people miss and has the hands to maneuver around high traffic areas and still make a play towards the net, despite being 5’6. Defender Will Cohen (Billerica, MA) keeps things simple in his own end and manned the point on the top PP unit while goalie Rob Farrell made some impressive glove saves to keep this a 1-goal game. Farrell looked supremely confident throughout this match and looked to defend his ice, even if it meant a few extracurriculars after the whistle.