By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – It may seem to be one of the most unusual idiosyncrasies in high school sports where a victory is recorded as a tie, but for the Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) varsity ice hockey team, it’s all just fine.
The tenacious Tomahawk skaters battled Wachusett Regional High School into a scoreless double overtime for the much-coveted Boro’s Cup championship at the North Star Youth Forum in Westborough Dec. 19, before clinching at the 9:47 mark when co-captain forward Justin O’Connell ended it all in dramatic fashion scoring the only goal of the contest to seal the title. The game is officially a tie as OT is only used to determine outcomes of tournament games in regular season, but all that is a formality. Algonquin (1-0-1) deservedly claims bragging rights as the 2015 Boro’s Cup champions, the team’s first crown since 1997, ending a streak of four consecutive cups won by Wachusett.
“The guys really grinded it out tonight. Wachusett’s a good team,” said fourth-year Tomahawk coach Andrew McGowan. “We knew that going in. The guys knew they had to play three full periods of hockey and then some. They did what they had to do tonight emphasizing the little things we worked on in practice and before the game. They worked hard and did an awesome job out there.”
“We’ve been really stressing that we haven’t won this tournament for a very long time and we wanted to stop Wachusett from having a ‘five-peat’ this year so we were working as hard as we could,” said goaltender and co-captain Mike Tascione, who was named tournament MVP. “Our hard work paid off.
“We were definitely an underdog coming into this so it’s nice to get our reputation up. We have a lot of potential and we’re really well-rounded offensively and defensively. We move the puck really well, but the biggest thing we have going is that we jell really well together.”
O’Connell’s game-winner came on a delayed penalty call on Wachusett. With Tascione going off for the extra skater, the stage was set for the clincher and O’Connell, on a feed from Tom Ackil, did not miss.
“We’ve been playing really well. We haven’t won this cup in a while and Wachusett was one of our biggest opponents so it feels good to win this,” O’Connell said post-game. “Our defense is really strong. We’ve got great goaltending and our forwards are putting the puck in the net so that’s good.”
“This is going to boost the team a lot,” added co-captain Alex DiPadua. “It’s great to win this at the beginning of the season to get the team going. All of us are coming together as a family.”
Despite losing a significant number of players to graduation in 2015, McGowan sees signs of the same talent that compiled a record of 12-5-4 a season ago. Regardless, with tough competition, the team will need to be at its very best night in and night out.
“This team has tremendous work ethic and has shown they can do the right thing with the puck and without the puck when they need to,” he said. “Every team in Central Mass. is tremendous and the guys know that. We just have to respect every team and take everything seriously because every game hereon is going to be a battle.”
Members of the 2015 Boro’s Cup champion ARHS ice hockey team are Matteo Calvanese, Jake Alpert, Kevin Reale, Ryan Decker, Dominic Ferro, Thomas Ackil, John Paterson, Alex DiPadua, Sean Prendergast, Nate Anderson, Patrick Priest, Jake Kelleher, Ian Kosovsky, Andrew Tache, Justin O’Connell, Alex Pietropaolo, Joe Sullivan and Dennis Achkinazi, along with goaltenders Mike Tascione, Jacob Dickie and Matt Rayburn.