Walpole, MA - This past weekend the Walpole Express EHL team headed to Cyclones Arena in Hudson, NH for the first league showcase of the year. The results were impressive: three victories for the boys from Walpole. “I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” said Coach Jon Lounsbury. “Our early season success is a direct result of their hard work and dedication.”
Game #1 v Hartford Jr. Wolfpack
On Friday, the Express faced off against league rival Hartford Jr. Wolfpack. The Express hit the ice unprepared and found themselves in the hole 3-0 within the first three minutes of the game. After a time out call by the staff, the Express settled in and got back to playing their brand of hockey. Still, after 25 minutes of play Walpole remained down by 3. That changed in the second period. Just two minutes in Colin Biebel blocked a Wolfpack slapshot and found himself alone on a breakaway. He scored top corner to cut the Wolfpack lead to two. Less than two minutes later, a red-hot Frankie Cefalu found the back of the net off a set of nice passes between James Varney and Brian Dennerlein. The Express continued to control the last half of the game, though they couldn’t find the back of the net. With less than two minutes remaining, Walpole pulled goaltender Evan McCarthy for extra firepower, and eventually evened the score up at 3 off a Bryan Nelson shot from the point. Gaining momentum, the Express kept the foot to the floor through overtime. After a scoreless OT the teams headed into a shootout. McCarthy stood tall in net stopping two of three Hartford shooters while Express forwards Nick Balboa and Biebel scored for the Express.
Game #2 v Connecticut Oilers
On Saturday morning, the Express kicked off the day with a 10 am game against a resilient Connecticut Oilers club. From the initial puck drop both teams were prepared for what would be a physical and fast-paced game. Each team had quality chances, with the Express hitting the scoreboard first as Timmy Thurnau buried a goal off a beautiful Tic-Tac-Toe play from Balboa and Eric Lipa. But the Oilers would be easily denied and worked hard to even the score at one a piece. Once again, goaltending was huge for the Express as Connor Rodericks made save after save. The Express continued to push forward and Lipa eventually tallied to take the lead back with five minutes remaining in the first. The second half of the game brought plenty of action for the scouts as each team kept up fast, physical play. The Oilers took advantage of a power play to even the score at 2 but the Express responded. With six minutes left to play Cefalu leveraged the power play to put home a Mat Michie rebound. The Express never looked back as they pulled away with a hard-fought 3-2 win.
Game # 3 v NY Bobcats
For the third game in less than 24 hours the Express faced former division rival New York Bobcats. The Express came out fired up and set the tone from the beginning. They opened the scoring when D-man Robbie Roche stole the puck from a Bobcat forward to send Balboa on a breakaway. After taking the lead, the Express spent a large portion of the period killing penalty after penalty. Eventually, the Bobcats found the back of the net on an even-strength goal. They followed that up just four minutes later with two more to give them a 3-1 lead. Undeterred, Walpole dug in and cut the lead to 1 before the end of the period when Michie redirected a Bryan Nelson shot from the point. That was all the Express needed to reinvigorate themselves. They came out recharged for the second half and continued to pressure a tired Bobcats club. With 15 minutes remaining to play Balboa made a beautiful pass to find Roche in the slot for a top corner goal, notching the game at three apiece. For the fifth time this season the Express headed to OT. This time Lipa was the hero. With just over two minutes left in OT he scored a pretty goal off a Balboa pass to the net.
Currently 7-0-2 on the season, the Express play both games at home this upcoming weekend. On Saturday, Oct 18 at 6 pm they face off against the East Coast Wizards; and on Sunday, Oct 19 at 1:40 pm they battle the Valley Jr. Warriors.