Walpole Boys Hockey has had their most historic season ever — and it only just ended.
Finishing the regular season with the best record in Walpole High’s history of 21-0-1, Walpole qualified for the Super 8 Tournament for the first time in the history of the program, a first not only for the Rebels but also for any other Bay State Conference Herget team. On Feb. 2, the Rebels defeated Catholic Memorial 2-1 in a play-in game to officially advance to the Super Eight Tournament, where the eight best teams in Massachusetts compete to decide a state champion. With a victory against #2 Boston College High School on March 5 and a loss on March 7, the #7 Rebels are currently tied 1-1 in a three game series. Game Three will be Saturday night in Chelmsford.
“Making the tournament is really cool because Walpole is not really known as a hockey town. It is more football, so bringing hockey into the school where everyone is rallying around us is really cool,” said senior captain, goalie James Corcoran.
Since a team’s acceptance into the Super Eight can be greatly affected by difficulty of schedule or program reputation, it can be a challenge for public school teams like Walpole to get into the Super Eight because of their untested reputation and questionable schedules.
“This year is huge for public schools,” said senior forward Cam Martin. “We proved a lot of people wrong, as there were obviously doubters that favored the private schools. No one thought a public school could make it this far.”
“Walpole came in and proved the entire state wrong,” said Mike Abelson, a Suite Sports correspondent — a group that reports on Massachusetts high school hockey.
Walpole’s impressive season is highlighted by seniors Martin and Corcoran. Martin is a second line winger who leads the team in scoring with 23 goals in all 23 games so far — including the OT winner over CM.
“[Senior captain Owen] Hunter did a tremendous job tying their center up on the faceoff, and I went at the puck, and tried to hit it as hard as I could,” added Martin.
Corcoran has made countless saves and has played several games on his head this season to lift Walpole to its incredible undefeated season. With 14 shutouts this season, Corcoran has also set a MIAA state record for most shutouts. Additionally, in the Rebels’ 6-0 win over Norwood, on February 18, Corcoran assisted sophomore Ryan Boyajian with a cross ice pass for a Walpole goal — another impressive stat especially for a goalie.
Corcoran’s most recent shutout comes after Walpole’s 1-0 win over Boston College High School.This Super Eight victory is the Rebels’ first in their best-of-three series against the Eagles. The lone goal comes thanks to sophomore forward Connor Foley, who broke through BC’s defense for a breakaway only two minutes into the game.
“The puck was in front of me in the neutral zone, and I saw the defenseman step up, so I tapped the puck by him and went on a breakaway hoping for the best,” said Foley.
The Rebels then held on for the remainder of the game, with another incredible performance from Corcoran — who saved 19 shots in the third period alone.
However, Boston College High School delivered the Rebels their first loss of the season on March 7. With eight minutes left in the first period, Boston College High School scored their first goal of the series. Although Walpole had their chances in the rest of the game, they were unable to find the back of the net. BC added to their point total by scoring an empty-net goal in the closing minute to win the game 2-0.
In addition to making the Super Eight, Walpole’s record awarded them the Bay State Conference title — the Rebels’ first since 1988.
The Rebels also set a school record for biggest goal differential in the regular season, for Walpole had 107 goals for and only 11 goals against. Walpole’s leading scorer this season is no other, but Martin with 23 — an overall Bay State League high this season. Martin’s 23 goals also outnumber last season’s goal count high of 10.
“Having 23 is great. I am fortunate enough to have unbelievable teammates that move the puck well to give me the chances for my goals,” said Martin.
In Game Three, the Rebels unfortunately lost in the only way that a season like the Rebels’ could end — with a shootout. The Rebels were ahead 2-1 after the first period, but BC tied the game up at two in the second. The third and final period passed with no changes in the score, despite multiple close efforts by both sides, and so did both the four on four first overtime and the three on three second overtime. In the shootout, Walpole ultimately fell to BC, ending not only a great game, but also a great historic season.