Tewksbury, MA – it was an action-packed thriller at Breakaway Ice Center in Tewksbury, as the visiting Lowell Red Raiders took on the Tewksbury Redmen. The Redmen and Red Raiders’ rivalry goes back decades as both teams looked to gain momentum going into their respective final stretches of the regular season, in this Merrimack Valley match-up.
The beginning of the first period showed both teams testing the waters to see how the opponent would respond. Lowell struck first as big-bodied junior Shawn Spring muscled down to the left circle and found senior assistant captain Jason DeMarco backdoor to beat Redmen goaltender Patrick Letourneau. It wouldn’t be the last time the Redmen saw havoc created by Spring and Demarco in this game. Tewksbury was quick to respond, earning a scrappy goal from junior forward John Beatrice, finding the puck in the crease with the help of junior forward Asa DeRoche and senior defenseman Tom Barbati earning the assists on the play. Tewksbury wasn’t satisfied with a 1-1 game. At the end of a high-pressured offensive zone cycle, star sophomore forward Jason Cooke gathered the puck at the top of the right circle after a blocked shot attempt from senior Kyle Morris and fired a wrist shot over the glove of Lowell goaltender Aidan Lavoie. The Redmen left the first period with a 2-1 lead over the Red Raiders.
The second period resulted in increased tensions by both squads. Lowell continued to stick to their structured system and worked to disrupt Tewksbury’s scoring chances while working to create some of their own. Picking up where they left off, Spring drove the net alongside his linemate DeMarco to corral a rebound, evening up the score at 2-2. Redmen sophomore Caden Connors complimented his strong game on defense with a really nice goal off of a faceoff win from sophomore Cole Stone by walking to the middle of the blueline and picking the top right corner to give Tewksbury the 3-2 lead. Towards the end of the second, Tewksbury’s Letourneau found himself not being able to recover in time, allowing Lowell captain Matthew Asselin to even up the game 3-3, heading into the second intermission.
As the third period unfolded, you got the feeling this game was just getting started. Lowell’s Owen Goulette, senior assistant captain, turned on the jets to disrupt a Redmen defender below the blueline, then proceeded to walk in and score low blocker to create a 4-3 advantage to start the period. The Redmen gained a power-play opportunity late in the frame and took advantage of it, with DeRoche tipping a shot from Kyle Morris off the cycle from the point to make it 4-4, which would be our score headed to overtime.
Both teams battled into the final minute of OT, but the Redmen came out on top after sophomore Jason Cooke fed junior Will O’Keefe backdoor on the right side to lift Tewksbury to a 5-4 thrilling victory over Lowell.
- F Will O’Keefe, Tewksbury
- F Asa DeRoche, Tewksbury
- D/F Shawn Spring, Lowell
TTPA: D Caden Connors, Tewksbury
For Tewksbury, they continued to state their case as one of the top Division 2 teams in the MIAA, despite missing their senior captain Campbell Pierce due to a suspension. There were a handful of Redmen players who stood out to us the most. Starting out with forward Asa DeRoche, a physical player who wasn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas and retrieve pucks. He controlled the puck with his head up, and almost buried a goal off the left post in the second period. He ended the game with 1G – 1A line and a solid all-around performance. Next up, we have junior forward Will O’Keefe who isn’t the biggest player on the ice, but he plays with swagger and tenacity. The shifty O’Keefe made multiple plays weaving in and out of defenders with his speed and stickhandling, and scored the game-winning goal in overtime to put the cherry on top. Last, but not least is sophomore defenseman Caden Connors who was all over the ice, using his nimble feet and great closing speed to limit offensive chances. He consistently skated with his head up making good first passes out of the zone.
Lowell immediately made a strong impression in the game to us, making clean, smart decisions as a team with the puck, along with having a strong forecheck and shut-down defensive zone coverage. If Lowell dominated one area tonight, it was in the faceoff circle. Captain Matthew Asselin led the way, winning nearly every faceoff he participated in, which made it difficult for Tewksbury to create momentum in this game. Asselin was seen many times on the top power-play unit for the Red Raiders, often taking the point position near the blue line on the semi-umbrella setup for Lowell. Senior assistant captain Brendan DeMarco shows really intriguing upside by using his long-striding speed and size to get around defenders and create scoring chances. He was seen on the power play and penalty kill and had a nice dive block to break up a Redmen offensive opportunity at the Lowell blueline. Senior assistant captain Owen Goulette also showed footspeed and tenacity, breaking up a big scoring chance for the Redmen and creating even more scoring chances of his own.