HYANNIS — From the outset, it appeared that host Barnstable had the upper hand.
But the visiting Burlington High School boys hockey team dug deep and came roaring back from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat its hosts, 3-2, in one of the most fast-paced, hard-hitting high school hockey games on the Cape this winter thus far.
Barnstable junior forward Matt Kaski made it seem like the 18th-ranked Red Raiders were fully-equipped to handle any team that comes their way this season when he took the puck away from the visiting Red Devils and raced in between two defenders to make it 1-0 (13:29) just moments into the first period, assisted by senior captain Donnie Brodd.
And, in spite of Barnstable senior goalie Dylan Campbell getting virtually peppered with Burlington shots on net, it just kept getting better for the hosts. Even when Red Devils’ senior John Manfredi sliced through three Barnstable defenders to get an open blast at Campbell, the goaltender rose to the occasion with a save. Burlington outshot its host in the first, 8-4, and the period ended with the Red Raiders on top at 1-0.
Burlington seemed determined to give the Barnstable goalie a real run for his money, though, throughout the entire second period, pounding Campbell time and time again until a cross-checking penalty gave Barnstable a key power play situation at the 6:54 mark. Kaski got his chance again when McDonough took a screamer from the blue line and it rebounded off Red Devils’ goalie Nick Howard right in front of the net. Kaski, a junior, was right on top of the rebound and flicked into the top of the net to make it 2-0 (5:34).
Buoyed by its 2-0 lead, Barnstable’s defense seemed unfettered by Burlington’s incessant harassment on Campbell with the puck and even more so in the second half of the second frame. The guests did not have a single shot on goal the entire second half of the second period. Barnstable ended with 10 shots on goal versus Burlington’s 8 (16-14 after two periods).
But the third period is when things fell apart for the Red Raiders as Burlington sophomore forward Ryan O’Connor took a rebound of a Danny Piotti shot and slammed it in the net to make it 2-1 just 45 seconds into the frame (Josh Boulos also assisted). The momentum started to build, but not in Barnstable’s favor.
With Burlington building upon an almost untenable level of shots on net (12-3 in the third period alone), it seemed just a matter of time before the Red Raiders’ lead fizzled away.
With just 4:24 elapsed in the third period, the hulking junior defenseman Josh Boulos came roaring down mid-ice on Barnstable’s Campbell, was denied, but junior Robby Ryan was there to pick up the rebound and wrist it into the net. The game was now tied, 2-2.
Either self-doubt began to creep into the Red Raiders’ collective minds or Burlington simply smelled blood as it continued to penetrate Barnstable’s end and test Campbell. Just over a minute after the game became tied at 2-2, senior captain Nick Carlino snatched the puck from Barnstable on the blue line and tore down the ice until he buried it past campbell (9:38) to make it 3-2.
“I was disappointed in the ending,” Barnstable head coach Scott Nickerson said. ” They were the better team, but we should have won that game. We didn’t compete well in the third (period)… never should give up shorthanded goals with a lead. But we learned a lesson and will move on.”
For the remaining nine minutes, Barnstable gave it all they had. With just about one minute left, Nickerson pulled his goalie to give the Red Raiders an extra man on the ice. One empty net, full ice-length shot by Burlington caromed off the post but still Barnstable could not fluster the Red Devils’ goalie Howard or even get a clear bead on him.
Time simply ran out. The Red Raiders now stand at 5-1 on the season. Next up: Falmouth this Saturday on the road at 7:00 pm.
“I wasn’t planning on (going) 20-0,” Nickerson said. “So take it and learn. The only game that matters is in March!”