Burlington knocks off Wakefield 5-2

Stoneham, MA – On New Years Day we made the trip to Stoneham Arena to watch #14 ranked Burlington (4-1-0) take on Division 2 foe Wakefield (4-2-0). Both teams have had strong starts to their seasons and this New Years matchup would be a good test for both clubs.

In the first period the Red Devils jumped all over the Warriors: peppering the net with shots and executing quick zone exits to keep the pressure on. It didn’t take long to open the scoring as senior captain Ryan O’Halloran broke in off the right wing and fed fellow senior Cam Costa in the slot 32 seconds into the game: 1-0. About four minutes later they struck again as the Zach Auble, Jacob Vozikis, Jack Jay line did some great work down low and Auble was the one to stuff it home at the cage to double the lead: 2-0. That would be our score after 1.

The second period flipped the script on this game as Wakefield turned up the forecheck pressure and forced Burlington to play at their pace. Just under five minutes into the period they capitalized when Matt Moniz came screaming off the right wing and fired a snap shot past the glove of Burlington goalie Joe Trabucco: 2-1. It looked as though that would be the score headed into the locker room except Burlington took a penalty late in the frame and Wakefield made them pay. It was a result of a great goal-line pass from forward Oliver Miller to Cam Souza for a weak side tap in: tie game with two seconds to go.

In the final stanza, the Red Devils reasserted themselves and made a statement early when O’Halloran won a puck battle, feeding Jack Jay with open space and he fired a laser under the bar to make it 3-2 Burlington. About five minutes later it was O’Halloran again, this time on the power play finishing off a feed from Cam Costa to make it 4-2. The punctuation came with 57 seconds to go when Costa netted his second of the game on an empty netter flipped over everything from the dots in his own zone: 5-2 was the final.

Three Stars:

  1. F Cam Costa, Burlington (2 G)
  2. F Ryan O’Halloran, Burlington (G, 2 A)
  3. F Matt Moniz, Wakefield (G, A)

NZ’s Take:

On paper, this was a good matchup of two teams who have had early success in MIAA play, but what we saw here was alternating dominating periods by both teams. We expected Burlington, as the D1 team, to own possession but have Wakefield make a stand late and what we saw was a resilient Warriors roster that rode the momentum wave in that second frame and put a good Red Devils team on its heels for 15 minutes. There are good players on both sides but the effectiveness of the 6-4-2 (Auble, Vozikis, Jay) line for Burlington allowed them to grind out a victory. They scored the game-winner here with hard work in the offensive zone: winning races, digging out pucks and creating centering feeds to a sturdy forward standing near the net. Entertaining game to watch given the momentum swings.

For Burlington, Auble was the attacker and slasher who would cut to the net, Vozikis won puck races with his quick feet and heads up recognition and Jay was putting in quality wall work and net-front screens using his durable frame. Of course, captain O’Halloran makes this engine go: he was the best player on the ice today given his pace of play, aggressiveness and ability to pounce on loose pucks and turn them into quick offense. Cam Costa plays a very similar style of slashing and cutting game to O’Halloran and that will make life tough for opposing defenses keeping them both quiet for an entire game. Also, there is some intriguing athleticism on the back end for Burlington with the big tandem of sophomore Anthony Andriolo and junior Colin Browne. Both of them move the puck up to their forwards quickly and can deftly accelerate to skate it out of trouble if the need arises.

For Wakefield, the clear top player on the ice today was Matt Moniz, the junior forward. He has great acceleration ability, consistent strides and can handle the puck smoothly. He was also good on the dot today winning a number of key draws for the Warriors. We also liked the lean speed of sophomore attacker Joey O’Brien. He has good size and reach for his age and he was able to win a race against the quickest player on the ice in Ryan O’Halloran, which tells you a lot about his stride efficiency. With added power and strength in his game, he will be a dangerous option, especially at the D2 level. We also liked what we saw from sophomore defenseman Matt Burns who plays a physical brand of hockey and has good instincts of when to step up to meet the forward and when to back off and play him down the wall. Made one hit in particular where he knocked a Red Devil forward on his backside using his leverage: solid hit.