The Blue Knights came away winners of the first matinee in the 31-year history of the Canal Cup. Sandwich posted their seventh straight victory with a 7-1 win over Bourne Saturday afternoon improving their overall Cup performance to 19-11-1. The 3:30 PM start didn’t appear to deter fans as Gallo Ice Arena was filled with the usual overflowing Canal Cup crowd. The time change to 3:30 from the usual 8 PM start was put in place by the schools because of fan behavior. This year’s Canal Cup seemed to go off without a hitch on and off the ice.
Sandwich’s Josh Noonan put a crack in the Canalmen’s armor just 2:07 into the opening period with a shot from the top of the right side face-off circle that flew through traffic and over the left shoulder of Bourne goalie Mike Wiggin.
“We wanted to get out in front early,” Sandwich Coach Jordan Mohre said. “In the Canal Cup everybody has a bit of the jitters. We just wanted to put the puck in the net.”
The Knights followed with shots by Jon Cassista and John Glynn. Jacob Davis did a nice job slowing Sandwich play in the attacking zone, but the Knights kept the pressure on the BHS net with a breakaway by Maverick Hauck, that Wiggin moved out to stop.
Bourne’s John Connolly had a shot hit the side of the Sandwich net, before the Knights turned the play back up the ice and once again went after Wiggin. Connor O’Leary and Hauck each got off shots on the Bourne net and then 9:43 into the period Sandwich struck again, this time with Pat Plummer getting a stick on the rebound of a Cassista shot that slid out in front of the net and slipping it just inside the left post.
Just under a minute later Drew Buckland took a shot at the left post and again the Knights had one in the net as they increased their lead to 3-0.
Sandwich controlled the flow of the opening period of play, but the Canalmen bounced back showing some offense in the second stanza.
“The second period is typically our best,” Bourne Coach Tom Welch said. “Maybe some of the kids were a little awestruck in the beginning, but they picked it up in the second and held Sandwich at bay until late in the third.”
With the three goal lead the Knights stepped up the pressure, pushing the Canalmen defense back inside the blue line. Jimmy Commesso broke free for a shot late in the period on Sandwich’s Ryan Oldfield, but the SHS goalie stopped it.
Kyle Brubaker opened the second period taking a pass from Cassista and going after Wiggin, followed by a shot from Max Kent. Bourne’s Chad Marsh then took the rebound and slipped the defense and nearly had an open shot on Oldfield, but was caught from behind by the Blue Knights. Oldfield fended off Marsh’s shot, but Devin Britto followed up with a shot that again forced Oldfield to make the save.
At the 7:11-mark Hauck got the puck from Alex Cabana and fired a blast from the high slot making it a 4-0 Sandwich lead. Commesso put the Canalmen on the scoreboard 13:54 into the second when he pounced on a rebound to the left of Sandwich goalie Nick Kennedy, while on a power play, and poked it into the net.
With one period left Bourne needed to come out and strike quick. Having picked up their offense in the second stanza, the Canalmen continued to skate hard into the third, but the speed of the Knights forced Bourne back inside their blue line. After a well played third period by both sides, the Knights took a 5-1 lead with just 2:57 remaining when Buckland cut in on Wiggin from the right side and fired a point back shot into the back of the net. In the final minute Sandwich added two more goals. Glynn drilled home a wrist shot from the slot with an assist from Tom Maciel and then with just three seconds on the clock Buckland completed the hat trick with a shot from just outside the crease.
Sandwich outshot Bourne 25-10. Oldfield and Kennedy split time in net in picking up the win.
“I’m proud of the way our kids played,” Welch said. “They embraced the traditions of the Canal Cup and showed sportsmanship. It’s a great tradition.”
“The Canal Cup is a high emotion game,” Mohre said. “There were only two penalties for each team. I’m definitely pleased with the way the kids played the game. I think this Canal Cup will be one that they’ll think back on and enjoy.”
The Knights (10-5-1, 7-3-1 AC) rode the momentum of their Canal Cup victory to an Atlantic Coast League win over Falmouth (8-4-5, 6-3-1 ACL) on Wednesday. The 3-2 victory earned Sandwich a spot in the state tournament, their first in the last four years.
It all came down to the final period, with the Clippers playing their best hockey of the night, Sandwich goalie Nick Kennedy stepped up and played even better. Kennedy stopped the best Falmouth had to offer, making 10 third-period saves, shutting down FHS on breakaways and kicking away some blistering shots.
Sandwich came out shooting, making their shots count. Koby Byrne and Kyle Brubaker went back-to-back just 29 seconds apart midway through the first period to stun Falmouth with a 2-goal lead.
The Clippers got one back 10 minutes into the second stanza, but Max Kent gave SHS some breathing room at the 11:08-mark with assists from Cassista and Dan O’Brien to give the Knights a 3-1 lead entering the final period.
Falmouth managed to cut the lead to 3-2 three minutes into the final 15-minute period and then threw everything they had at Kennedy, who turned in a superb performance shutting down the Clippers.
Falmouth edged the Knights in shots on goal by a 24-23 margin.