As the final horn sounded on March 5, 2022 to mark the end of the third period, Wellesley skated off the ice to the tune of a 6-2 defeat to Franklin on our home ice in the first round of the MIAA tournament. An obvious disappointment for many players, the defeat left many questioning if Wellesley Hockey could return to the dominance of seasons prior.
The boys’ team was off to a hot start in the 2019-2020 season,but due to the covid-19 pandemic, their season was cut short. The following 2020-2021 season was a shortened season with only ten games being played. Wellesley finished 4-4-2 and missed the playoffs.
Coming into this season, the team had a total of ten returning juniors and was highly optimistic.
“This team definitely stands out as the best group I have been in within the last four years. The way we have come together over these few months, it’s like a family. In addition, everyone is so dedicated to winning this season, we all show up to practice and games, giving it all we can.” said Captain Sean Maxwell ’23.
The team started strongly, 10-0, with their average margin of victory of 3.1. Goalie Reagan O’Neil ’23, who has been the team’s starting goalie since his sophomore year, posted a total of five shutouts during that stretch helping Wellesley climb in the state rankings. Yet it was not one person who carried the team to the playoffs, it was a full team effort. Players on the varsity squad range from freshmen to seniors, and a strong emphasis was put on unifying the team regardless of class.
“As a senior, I know that younger kids on the team look to us to see how we act and handle ourselves, and I think our entire senior class has done an amazing job of showing younger players what it means to give everything to the team.” said O’Neal “With that being said, an important thing on our team is that once you are one of us, it doesn’t matter what grade you are- it doesn’t matter if you are a freshman or senior, everyone contributes and gets the same respect from their teammates.”
Despite a 4-2 loss to Milton, the team continued to power on, posting an 11-2 conference record and a 16-4 record in the regular season.
On March 1, the boysentered the MIAA tournament ranked thirteenth in the state and faced the twentieth-ranked Malden Catholic Lancers. Maxwell opened up the scoring in the first, beating Malden Catholic goalie Brenden Zinck ‘23 to make the score 1-0 with 3:14 left in the first. The Lancers would come back and open up the scoring in the second with a goal by Daniel Zizza ’23. Yet merely seconds later, Robbie Marshall ’23 took the lead back. At the beginning of the third period, Brody Sharpe ’25 capitalized on a turnover to make it 3-1, and Nils Tellendar sealed the win with an empty net goal with 2:27 remaining. After the 4-1 win, the boyswent on to face number four ranked Pope Francis in the round of 16.
The Raiders came into the match knowing they were going to be a tough opponent, yet continued the mindset of just winning games. They opened up the scoring early with two goals in the first period, one of which was a Maxwell wrist shot. Yet with only 0.9 seconds left, Pope Francis’ Colin Foyle ’23 put one in the net, making the score 2-1 going into the second. The second period was a defensive battle with a total of 14 shots on goal for both teams. Entering the third period, Wellesley hoped to keep the momentum of their side, but Pope Francis Captain Josh Iby ’23 was able to score off a faceoff with less than four minutes to go in the third period. The game ended up heading to overtime, where it would be Ilby again who would send Pope Francis onto the elite 8.
“ Our team played an incredible game. We had to adapt to counter an extremely strong opponent, and it was amazing to watch every single person on our team buy into the system. We all trusted our coaches and teammates and were able to neutralize our opponent with the most hard-fought, grittiest hockey I have ever watched,” said O’Neal
Although a disappointing loss, the seniors hope to pass on the winning tradition to the next batch of Wellesley hockey players.
“A winning culture is a big thing in a team’s mindset, and I think that the culture of success and love for the team that we’ve built over the past few years will continue for greater success in future years,” said O’Neal.