So many fans poured into to see a rivalry game between and Tewksbury that there were traffic issues in the parking lot before the puck dropped. Luckily for spectators, Wilmington made sure the fans could hit the road early to beat the traffic as the Wildcats earned a convincing boys hockey win.
Wilmington snuck out to a 1-0 advantage after the opening period thanks to a Dalton Rolli goal with 12:19 remaining before the intermission. Senior Andy Owens scored just 13 seconds into the second period for a 2-0 lead, and the Wildcats never looked back as they cruised to a 6-0 victory.
“(Did I see anything) that I liked from my team?” said Tewksbury head coach Derek Doherty. “No.”
Cam Owens, who assisted on his brother’s goal thanks to a pass off a defenseman’s skate in the first period, scored the next two goals for Wilmington to pad the cushion to 4-0.
The first of those two goals was an astonishing individual effort. The sophomore skated down the boards where he was met with a check from a Tewksbury player. Owens literally pushed his Redmen foe off of him, skated to the net uncontested and scored.
“He’s a game-changer,” said Wilmington head coach Steve Scanlon. “When he gets going, he’s hard to contain. He’s played big in big games, which is important for a player.”
The younger Owens assisted on a Cody McGowan goal late in the middle frame and completed his hat trick when he stole the puck at center ice and patiently skated towards goal where he found to bottom left portion of the net with 8:06 to go.
As expected, the game was physical throughout. Several scraps broke out during the game, which featured thunderous hits aplenty.
“They outplayed us in the first period, second period and third period. We didn’t come to play hockey tonight,” said Doherty. “We need to play stronger, we need to play more physical and we can’t let teams push us around like we did tonight. I normally don’t see that from our kids, but that’s what we got out of them tonight.”
Rolli was sent to the box in the second period after he snapped back at a Redmen player who appeared to pull the junior forward’s helmet off along the boards while attempting a check.
Both teams jawed at each other throughout, and though Scanlon was happy with the physical play, he hopes his team can sharpen its mental game before the playoffs.
“I’d like to see us keep our heads a little more,” said Scanlon. “In a tournament, especially when you advance, things can get crazy. The team that keeps its head is the team that advances. You can’t be taking dumb penalties.”
Tewksbury now needs to bounce back, and do so quickly. The Redmen had been highly ranked during the regular season, but looked weary against perennial powerhouse Wilmington.
“Tewksbury-Wilmington has been one of the premiere games in the last at least four or five years,” said Doherty. “Both fans have supported their teams and if you can’t get up for a game like that, you’ve got to do some soul searching and figure out what’s going on. The state tournament is next week and we have to bounce back, figure out what’s going on and regroup.”
Though Scanlon said his team is heading into the postseason with extreme confidence, he also knows the result could change if his charges faced a rematch with the Redmen in the postseason.
“Tonight was our night. We know the next time we may see them, things will be a lot different,” said Scanlon. “We’ll enjoy it for now.”