Hockey: Gray’s Masterpiece Earns Belmont Girls’ Important Point Vs Winchester; Boys’ Rely On First Line, Again, To Eek Out A Tie

Photo: Bridget Gray is Belmont’s GOAT in the nets.

There was no right for the Belmont High School Girls’ Ice Hockey squad to walk away with one point against ten-win Winchester. For most of the game, the action was one-way-only traffic heading into the Belmont zone as the Marauders were chasing the puck for three periods.

But at the end of overtime, Belmont players swarmed their junior co-captain goalie Bridget Gray who gave the Marauders the lifeline to escape the Skip with a valuable 2-2 tie. If Gray has had a more impactful regular season game in her three varsity seasons please remind us as her performance against Div. 2 top-five Winchester was a masterpiece.

From the first 10 seconds where she stoned a clear breakaway to the final seconds of the 50 minutes she was on the ice, Gray stopped 54 of 56 shots, a monumental shot rate of 19 per period. But it’s unusual for Gray – who has been a starter since the 2019-20 season – to see a ton of pucks come her way as she surpassed 1,500 saves in her career.

The attempts at goal were a collection of challenging testers, many coming from open looks as opponents drove to the net forcing Gray to make instinctual reaction saves including after only six minutes when she stopped her second breakaway of the period and then smother the shot attempt off the rebound.

It was remarkable that Belmont (6-5-2) was only down 1-0 after 15 minutes as Winchester scored after crashing the net and ping-ponging the puck in. The second period didn’t look any more promising for Belmont, especially after a tripping call put a Marauder in the box for a second time in the period. But against the run of play, Belmont scored short handed when junior Lily Duffy sped into the Winchester zone and unleashed a wrister that hugged the ice beating the goalie stick side at 9:40 remaining.

Paraphrasing the line from Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles,” scoring on Winchester only made them mad and they came out looking to retake the lead coming close with a shot that sat on the goal-line, another off the crossbar from a blocker save and Gray stealing a goal heading into the open net with her glove and pads. But Gray could not singlehandedly hold back the onslaught and gave up the second just past halfway in the period.

But once again, Belmont scored out of no where when sophomore forward Gretchen Hanley was at the right place at the right time to pickup the puck from a mangled attempt of a save to tie it up at two. After so much work just to tie the score, Gray and Belmont would bend but not break to secure the tie. (Belmont would secure a 1-1 tie vs Reading

While Belmont kept its record above .500, the importance of the Gray-inspired draw is realized when looking at the now all-important power rankings table as the Marauders jumped five places in Division 2 from 34th to 29th, just above the 32nd place cutoff to remain eligible for the state tournament. But the tie against a .500 Reading has Belmont right at the 32nd cutoff.

And Belmont will need to rely on Gray to come up big in the final four games of the year as the team faces a true running of gauntlet of stellar opponents in the next two weeks – Arlington (ranked 2nd in Div. 1), Woburn (12th in D2), Haverhill (9th) and undefeated Winthrop (14th). Conceivably the Marauders could loss each game and stay inside the 32nd placement due to the high ranking of the opponents which can actually be beneficial when calculating the rankings. But Belmont would need to keep each game close, something Gray will have a big say.

Tired Ties For The Boys

Midway through overtime in its game against Middlesex League rivals Reading, Belmont (15-1-2) replaced two of its top offense line and number one defensive pair from the ice. Those who saw the players coming off wouldn’t be so wrong to believe they were watching a recreation of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow: there couldn’t be a more exhausted looking group dragging themselves back to the bench. Less than a minute later, the The reason for the image was clear: the five players were on the ice for much of the game which ended in a 1-1 stalemate.

And if you know who they are, you’d know why they should be out there for long stretches of time. The first line of senior Matty Rowen and juniors Shay Donahue and Cam Fici is the most productive and active group in the Middlesex League if not the state. They pop on the ice and suddenly it is theirs: they can dominate between the blue lines and then combine with deft passing and a deadly eye – especially from Fici who is nearing 30 goals this season – for the back of the net.

The stats tell it all: Of Belmont’s 16 goals in the past 7 games, 15 have been planted by the first line. The last non-Rowen, Donahue, Fici goal came from sophomore Matt Pomer against Woburn nearly a month ago.

Over on the defensive side, one of the best pairs in these parts is juniors Joe Gaziano and Peter Grace who have cultivated a partnership that provides a solid back line in front of all-star senior goalie Ryan Griffin.

And it’s not that Belmont is bereft of talented players: sophomore defender Adrien Gurung is a talented two-way worker (he scored Belmont’s first goal against top ranked Arlington in its 2-2 tie in January) while seniors Joe Michaud, Joe Dolan and Nathan Kefeyan have the toughness to play in the Middlesex League and youngsters such as the Pomer brothers (Matt and Mike) and junior Andrew Ferreira are getting their chance on the ice.

Yet when it comes to holding onto a slim lead, to be out there on the power play and short handed or if there is a need for a score, it’s likely the starting five will be called on. Just how much will Belmont’s bench use this set of assets as they come across giants such as Arlington away (Wednesday) and at home against Catholic Memorial (Friday) during the week will indicate their future use during the MIAA Div. 1 tournament where Belmont and Walpole are defending co-champions.

Hockey: Boys’ Back In The Win Column With Win Vs Burlington; Girls’ Hang On For Victory Against Red Devils

Photo: Belmont High defender junior Peter Grace.

After taking a first loss of the season – shut out 2-0 against a rising Wellesley High team on Wednesday – Belmont High School Boys’ Hockey took the most of the opportunity to return to the win column with a dominate 3-0 victory against Middlesex Freedom Division foe Burlington on Saturday, Jan. 22 at the Skip.

The W gives Belmont a 13–1-1 overall record and 8-0-1 in the Middlesex Liberty division.

Once again, it was Belmont’s first offensive line on the power play that wreak havoc against an opponent as two of Belmont’s scores came with the man advantage as senior senior Matt Rowen and junior Cam Fici potted goals in the second and third periods. In the past three games, the Marauders scored six of eight goals on the power play with Rowen (3) and Fici (4) tallying. Fici gained the brace against the Red Devils with a pretty even-strength first period goal in close with the assist coming from line mate junior Shay Donahue who helped on each Belmont goal.

A stubborn opponent for the better part of the past decade, the Red Devils had a hard time to keep up with Belmont’s team speed with arguably one of the best defensive pairing in eastern Mass – juniors Peter Grace and Joe Gaziano – shutting off the Red Devils’ incursions into the zone with senior net-minder Ryan Griffin adding his seventh clean sheet of the season.

Belmont will visit Wilmington on Wednesday, Jan. 26.

Belmont High Girls hang on for sixth victory

A great second period led to a very nervy third as the Belmont High Girls upped its record to 6-4 (5-4 in the league) defeating Burlington High at the Skip, 3-2, as the Marauders’ relied on standout goaltending from Bridget Gray on Seniors Night on Jan. 22.

You could say that Belmont’s forwards “stole” this victory as freshman Sadie Taylor and senior Jaelyn Marchetta intercepted clearing passes in the Burlington end and scored – Taylor’s a rocket from the left circle three minutes into the second while Marchetta grabbed the puck on the penalty kill and put in a shorthand tally late in the same period – to go along with senior Molly Dacey’s second chance opportunity just outside the crease at the four minute mark in the first period.

It was Gray’s stellar play in the final stanza securing the win as Burlington stormed the crease time and time again as the Marauders tired down the stretch. Two of the best saves came in the final 1:40, one off Gray’s helmet and a deflection off her glove with seven ticks left.

Belmont will host Lexington on Friday, Jan. 28 at 5 p.m.

Three Belmont Teams In Middlesex League Tournaments Starting Wednesday

Photo: Belmont teams are participating in a first-ever Middlesex League championship tournament.

The regular season might be over but three Belmont teams will be playing on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of a first ever Middlesex League championship tournament.

Boys’ Hockey and Girls’ Hockey and Basketball are playing in this impromptu playoff as the Middlesex League is following the examples of other athletic conferences by adding a tournament in place of the MIAA interscholastic championships which have been suspended for the school year.

Wednesday’s schedule includes:

  • Third seed Boy’s Hockey will play host to Wakefield at noon, Wednesday at John A. Ryan Area in Watertown. You can catch the game on cable – Ch. 96 Comcast or Ch. 30 Verizon – or on the web at belmontmedia.org/infotv
  • Girls’ Basketball, the fourth ranked team will play long time rivals Watertown at 2:30 p.m. While Belmont is the home team, the game will be played at Watertown High School. Watch the game on Ch. 96 Comcast or Ch. 30 Verizon or at belmontmedia.org/infotv
  • Finally, fourth seed Girls’ Hockey takes on Winchester at 7 p.m. at the Burlington Ice Palace. You can see the game on Ch. 96 Comcast or Ch. 30 Verizon and on the web at belmontmedia.org/infotv

Sports: Holiday Near Sweep Dampened By Season Ending Loss of Girls’ Hockey Captain

Photo: Emma O’Donovan with Belmont High Head Coach Ken Murphy

Belmont High sports teams came out of the Martin Luther King Day holiday on the right foot as all four teams took away points in their reverse fixtures against Winchester on Monday, Jan. 18.

But a dark cloud ascended over the day’s good results as the Belmont High Girls Ice Hockey program lost its most dynamic player for the remainder of the shortened season.

Senior captain and offensive powerhouse Emma O’Donovan suffered a serious injury in the final five minutes of the Marauders 3-2 victory over the Sachems in a game played at Woburn. While picking up a puck behind the Winchester’s net, O’Donovan – who scored a pair of goals in the game – was pushed into the end boards by a Sachem defender. O’Donovan went directly to the ice and stayed there for nearly 10 minutes.

The Winchester player was issued a game misconduct for a boarding infraction – it’s unknown if the penalty was reduced post game – as O’Donovan was taken for medical care. A number of individuals with direct knowledge of the injury said the senior captain suffered a broken leg in two places.

O’Donovan’s line mate senior Sam Rocci scored the Marauders other goal as Belmont saw its record rise to 3-0-1.

The loss of O’Donovan is especially hard for the team and community knowing how the senior has struggled and succeeded to stay on the ice and the field hockey pitch. A first-year phenom, O’Donovan missed her sophomore year in 2018 after it was discovered she was suffering a aneurysmal bone cyst in her left ankle, result in her missing that year and required multiple operations. An article in the Boston Globe (“Belmont’s Emma O’Donovan has been the epitome of perseverance” Jan. 13), detailed her effort to getting back on the ice at the same high standards as before the diagnostic.

O’Donovan was seeking to reach the 100 point career mark and was 21 points from that goal after scoring eight goals and one assist this season.

Senior Caleb Christensen put in an offensive rebound with 14 seconds remaining to give Belmont Boys’ Basketball a 62-61 over previously undefeated Winchester (3-1) at the Wenner Field House. The victory marks the second time the Marauders (2-2) lost the first game of a series only to take the second, having lost to Winchester by three, 52-49, on Saturday.

After rolling past Winchester in the first game three days earlier by 28 points (80-52), Belmont Girls’ Basketball had a bit of a tighter game against the Sachems but came out on top, 42-34, as the team goes to 3-1 in the season.

Boys hockey fell behind twice only to rally with two goals in the second to earn the tie against the Sachems to remain undefeated. Senior Ben Fici and sophomore Peter Grace tallied for the 3-0-1 Marauders as sophomore goalie Ryan Griffin posted 34 saves.

O’Donovan, Gray Spark Belmont Girls’ Hockey To State QF With Shutout Over Waltham

Photo: Emma O’Donovan scoring her first goal vs Waltham.

It’s been the script Belmont High School Girls’ Hockey has been using the entire 2019-2020 season: Junior Emma O’Donovan scores, First Year Bridget Gray saves.

And Belmont didn’t deviate from its successful formula as O’Donovan’s brace was all the Marauders needed as Gray came up with a 31 save 2-0 shutout victory over Waltham High School in the Sweet 16 of the State Girls’ Division 1 tournament on Monday, March 2, at the Ryan Rink in Watertown.

“We knew this was going to be a big game,” said Belmont Head Coach Ken Murphy, having played the Hawks earlier in the season that ended in a 1-0 victory.

“It just went our way tonight. Our goalie really stepped up and made some terrific saves,” said Murphy.

Next up for Belmont is the highest remaining seed in the tournament as the 7th seed Marauders take on two-seed Austin Prep on Saturday, March 7 at noon at Woburn.

It turned out to be an afternoon for recording landmarks as O’Donovan knotted her 30th goal and 40th point for the season while 9th grader Gray racked up her 10th shutout in 22 games with a gaudy 1.38 goal against average.

“It was a big team effort. We came out pretty slow as we had a lot of nerves in the locker room but we managed to pull it together in the end,” said O’Donovan.

From the puck drop the game pitted teams’ mirror images with similar breakout transition styles with great goaltending on both ends anchoring the defense.

Belmont took advantage of the game’s first power play when O’Donovan took a pass from Senior Meaghan Noone and between a pair of Waltham defenders snapped her favorite wrist shot by Waltham’s senior goalie Caitlyn Burke’s blocker to break the deadlock with 9:35 remaining in the second.

Enter Gray who stoned Waltham the rest of the way making 13 of her 31 saves in the third.

“It was definitely stressful in the third,” said Gray, making stellar saves off a pair of Waltham power plays early in the final stanza. “But in the moment, you’re really not thinking about it, you just think ‘how can I save the puck the best you can’.”

Gray and Murphy both acknowledged the steady work from the defensive led by the speedy Noone who skated down Waltham’s wingers and led the transition.

“I’m never nervous when she’s out there,” Murphy said about Noone.

Seniors Maggie O’Connor and Jenna Crowley along with junior Del Bonnin prevented the Hawks from setting up in the slot or cross the blue line unchallenged.

“I can’t tell how many blocked shots they had. They help me out so much,” said Gray.

With 30 second remaining, as junior Kendall Whalen dumped the puck towards Burke, O’Donovan reached out and tipped the puck by Burke to seal the win.

Both Murphy and the players acknowledge that Saturday’s match up against Austin Prep will be a testing contest.

“They’re very good but I think we have the heart to really give them a game and hopefully get the win,” said Gray.

Marauders, SpyPonders Draw Blanks In Girls Hockey Showdown

Photo: Belmont’s Bridget Gray makes the save early in the first period.

An anticipated barnburner between a pair of red hot teams never materialized as stone cold defense stole the show between Arlington and host Belmont as the Middlesex Liberty rivals skated to a joint shutout, 0-0, at the Skip Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The tie hampers both squads attempts to stay close to league leader Woburn (7-1-1) which beat Belmont, 5-2, but lost to Arlington, 5-1.

In a game which Arlington (5-1-2) held the upper hand for most of the 45 minutes, the highlights came from the top defensive pairings from both teams while each goaltender did what was required to come off the ice with a clean sheet.

The SpyPonders first D-line of junior Shea O’Day and first year Cailyn Murphy were especially solid tracking down Belmont’s top scorers – senior Katie Goden, junior Emma O’Donovan and first year Lilly Duffy – and limiting the offense to single shots on goal. Belmont’s seniors Meaghan Noone and Jenna Crowley produced more of an attacking punch for the Marauders (7-1-2).

The SpyPonders had the advantage of goal scoring chances including a pair of near breakaways (from first year players Molly Conneely and Madeline Krepelka) in the first six minutes of the game. But each one was stifled by Belmont’s goalie Bridget Gray, the first year standout in the league who earned her sixth overall and third consecutive shut out to lower her goal-against average to an eye popping 0.85.

Offensively, Arlington was happy to keep the puck on the boards before breaking out as it relied on its physical playing style. Belmont leaned on its quickness to attack on the counter and pounce on the odd SpyPonder miscue.

While Arlington’s sophomore tender Elise Rodd was troubled by a handful of shots – Belmont’s best chance came from senior Kara Rowan from the slot that flew by the left post in the second period – Gray faced 35 in which several required a quick glove hand including several sprawling pad saves early and late in the third.

Belmont welcomes Watertown on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 1 p.m.

Guden’s 5 Point Night Secures Home Opener Win For Belmont Girls’ Hockey, 5-2, Over Medford

Photo: Belmont’s Katie Guden scoring her third and game-winning goal.

The first half of Belmont High Girls’ Ice Hockey home opener at the “Skip” on Thursday night, Dec. 13 was all Medford High as the Mustangs held a 2-0 lead and were peppering the Marauders’ goal with scoring opportunities galore.

The second half was all Belmont’s Katie Guden. The junior forward would put on an offensive show having a part in all of the Marauders five goal in Belmont’s 5-2 victory over the Medford. After opening the season with an away win at Burlington, 5-4, the night before, Wednesday, Dec. 12, Belmont, under head coach Ken Murphy, now stands at 2-0-0.

Number 14 – the same numeral Guden wears as the all-star quarterback of the field hockey team – tallied four goals (one an empty net) and assisted on senior Morgan Chase’s marker leading the Marauders in a four-goal outburst in the final period.

After surrendering a pair of first period goals to Medford’s Brenna Forbes and Elizabeth Lazzaro, Belmont appeared still a bit discombobulated against the speedy Mustang forwards heading into the second period.

Belmont would turn it around by taking advantage of the power play as Guden popped in her first six seconds before the midpoint of the game at 7:36. The Marauders then survived going two down shortly afterward and took control of the game. Just three minutes into the third, Guden found space between the dots at the top of the slot to snap it by Medford’s goalie Terrell Pesaturo to knot the contest at two. Less than four minutes later, it was Guden getting her hat trick by sweeping around the net and back to the slot to wrist the shot high stick side to give the Marauders the lead. The senior nearly made it four a minute later as she “clanged” a shot off the post.

Trailing for the first time in the game, Medford found their energy again but Belmont’s senior goaltender Amanda Hanley sprawled to her left to take a puck off a stick at the side the goal. 

Belmont put the home opener beyond reach when Chase scored off a centering pass by Guden with two-and-a-half to play. Guden ended her big night with an empty-netter – with the assist from her field hockey teammate senior defense Jordan Lettiere – while finishing the game with nearly a “Gordie Howe hat trick” ending up in the box ’til the buzzer for a high stick.

Belmont will be at home Saturday, Dec. 15, for a 1 p.m. matinee facing Wilmington which is coming off a stunning upset of perinatal Middlesex League and state top 5  Woburn, 3-1.

Sports: Girls’ Hockey Rockets To 3-0 Start With Home Opener Win Vs. Lincoln-Sudbury

Photo: Belmont heading to the goal.

Everyone knew coming into the season that Belmont High Boys’ Ice Hockey would be a team to be reckoned with in the Middlesex League. But if you’re looking for the squad playing at the “Skip” with the undefeated season, look no further than the Belmont High Girls’ team who has rocketed its way to a 3-0 start which included an all-around solid 3-0 home ice opener against Lincoln-Sudbury on Monday, Dec. 18.

Led by junior goalie Amanda Hanley who pitched her first shutout of the season, the Marauders scored with some unlikely sources demonstrating that the team’s potent scoring punch – 14 goals in the first three games – comes from more than just a single offensive line.

Second line defender senior Meghan Noone scored Belmont’s second goal on a rising wrister from just to the right of the left circle on the power play at 11:34 in the second period with the assist from defensive partner junior Jordan Lettiere. The no-frills defender who contributes each shift for Head Coach Ken Murphy showed her versatility and senior leadership by immediately taking a 2-minute roughing penalty after a Lincoln-Sudbury player took one-too-many liberties at Hanley’s expense. The violation was deemed by one observer as “a good roughing penalty to take” in defense of the team’s netminder. 

After a first period stalemate against a good Warriors team – L-S came into the game 1-0 after defeating Concord-Carlisle 1-0 in its season opener – Belmont struck early in the second as freshman phenom Emma O’Donovan (coming off a hat-trick against Burlington) scored in tight with assists from fellow frosh Del Bonin and senior center Annabel Banks.

Hanley kept the advantage turning back two point-blank shots at the doorstep with five minutes to go in the period before Belmont took advantage of a call against L-S a minute later.

Belmont put the game out-of-reach early in the third as O’Donovan netted her second from a pass by Noone who came as close as one can in high school hockey to a “Gordie Howe hat trick”.

Belmont opened the season squeaking by Wakefield by one, 5-4, then coming away with a 6-2 victory over Burlington as O’Donovan and linemate Emma Brodigan scored five goals with sophomore center Katie Guden hitting the back of the net.

The Marauders will be busy this week with away match on Wednesday, Dec. 20 at Wilmington, away again on Friday, Dec. 22 at Medford before coming home to the fridged confines of the “Skip” on Saturday, Dec. 23 vs. Stoneham.