• Bantams – Facing the first-seeded team going into the Playoffs with a 24-1-2 record, the Gateway Bantams weren’t quite sure what to expect when playing against Weymouth, a Yankee Conference powerhouse team.
After a hard-fought battle on the ice by both teams, the first period ended in a scoreless tie. Shortly into the second period, Weymouth tallied the first goal, taking the lead and gaining the position of control. Gateway had plenty of opportunities on net, but nothing was getting by the Weymouth net-keeper. Great defense by Alex Hathaway, Mat St. John, Jake Tomasik and Doug Breault kept the score within one. Teaghan Andre made some outstanding glove saves and overall showed superb poise and confidence in the net.
Finally, in the third period, the Gateway threesome of Chad Lavoie, Jacob Spevach and Brady Smith pressured the Weymouth goalie and Chad Lavoie dropped one in, putting Gateway back in the game and also scoring his first goal of the season. Great back-checking and the solid play of Will Paling, Mike Houdlette and Sean Kelso added to more pressure in the Weymouth zone. Shift change and out came Brady Smith, Alex Atkinson and Brian Holmes, who battled in front of the Weymouth net banging away at the puck trying to get it in. Finally, Alex Atkinson got hold of the loose puck and tucked it in to break the tie and give Gateway the one-goal lead. With just 1:48 remaining in the game, Mat St. John used his agility and burst of speed to take the puck down the ice and drive it in to guarantee a 3-1 Gateway victory.
The Bantam team consists of several skaters who represent the first class of hockey players that helped bring youth hockey back to Wareham after several years without a program. When a close knit family of volunteers made Gateway Youth Hockey a reality a few short years ago, many of the current Bantams laced up their skates for the first time. Now years later, they are poised to put the exclamation point on their experiences in youth hockey.
“Most of these kids have skated together for more than four years, and they have grown so much together,” Coach Mike Houdlette said. The team endured their share of long losing streaks and blowout losses in the first few years, but their recent successes mirror that of the entire organization. Let’s hope next week these boys see their dreams become a reality.
Gateway hopes to see a great show of town support next week for the Championship Squirt game at 1:30 pm and the Bantam game at 3:10 pm next Sunday, April 7 at Hobomock Arena, 132 Hobomock Street, Pembroke.
• Middle School – The Wareham Vikings found themselves in the B2 Division playoffs Friday night after finishing their C Division season in first place. Facing B/R Papasodoro, the Vikings seemed a bit nervous about being moved up a division as the game started, especially since B/R managed a fluky goal in the first minute of the game. The Vikings soon found their stride though, and Goalie Chace Cunningham remained confident in what was to be a stellar playoff performance. The teams were well-matched as each side battled for dominance, and the score remained 1-0 against the Vikings until nearly the end of the second period, when Sean Kelso took advantage of a power play to hit the net. Within two minutes, Wareham managed to take the lead, with Doug Breault sinking the puck, assisted by Kelso and Mike Houdlette. The lead in hand, the Vikings defense went on high alert, relying on Jake “The Wall” Tomasik, Alex Hathaway and Coleby Paling to help secure the net. Will Paling and Connor Kelley worked to extend the lead, but their attempts on net were rebuffed. It seemed that a victory was secure, but another fluky goal by B/R ended the game in a 2-2 tie.
Coach Howie Ladd expressed pride in the team, saying they had played well against each of their playoff opponents during the season, and had held their own tonight. B/R Papasodoro was the toughest team they would face during the series, and Coach Howie was pleased with the team’s performance. He has every confidence that they will continue to do well during the playoffs, and that the Championship trophy is well within their grasp. After a heartbreaking loss in last year’s division Championship, the Wareham Vikings Middle School team is certainly ready to take that trophy home.