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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Men’s hockey pulls out gutsy win at Frozen Fenway

The+Beacons+prepare+for+battle+during+the+National+Anthem
The Beacons prepare for battle during the National Anthem

The folks in Beaconville have plenty to cheer about. 8th ranked men’s hockey has officially arrived as a national force, as they gutted out a 4-2 win on the unforgiving tundra of Fenway Park on January 7. Despite single-digit temperatures and 25 mph winds, the Beacons outlasted the Salem State Vikings in a tough, physical slugfest that tested both teams’ conditioning and ability.
The Beacons have been on a roll lately, having won their second-straight Codfish Bowl the previous weekend in addition to this triumph in the elements, and they have not lost a match outright in ten weeks. This game happened to fall on one of the coldest days in Boston in years, and that weather had an obvious effect on the ice, which was brittle and unpredictable. The conditions forced the Beacons to re-think their strategy, especially after they were dominated in the first ten minutes, where they were outshot 9-2.
Head coach Peter Belisle said, “we didn’t really know how the ice was going to be, so we learned quickly that it was brittle and the finesse game was out of it. We had to kind of learn how to play on that ice. We have a very skilled team and we were trying to make some cute plays and saucer passes and we quickly realized that it’s kind of a chip-it-in, chip-it-out, funnel it towards the net kind of game.”
“In the second half of the first period, we started to play some hockey,” he added.
What kept the Beacons in the match early was some stellar play from Zach Andrews, who has not allowed two goals in a match since before Thanksgiving. Andrews and the Beacons were not able to practice on the ice the day before, so the goalie had to quickly adjust to the brutal conditions and the unpredictable boards.
Both teams were not able to find the back of the net in a chippy, penalty-filled first period, but towards the end of the initial 20 minutes, the Beacons showed some signs of life. Derek Calluci landed an earth-shaking hit on a Salem State forward, and the Beacons got their first real pressure on Vikings goaltender Ryan Sutliffe in the closing minutes, out-shooting the Vikings 8-3 since their initial 9-2 outburst.
The guys emerged from the Red Sox dugout to take the ice for the second period with a renewed fire, and it showed early. At 4:44, Peter MacIntyre scored off a Vikings turnover with a perfectly placed shot to give the Beacons a 1-0 lead.
With chants of “Let’s Go Beacons” raining down, Salem State did a good job of answering the first score with a very fortunate goal of their own at 6:32. Eric Defelice let a half hearted shot off from the blue line and it managed to bounce its way past Andrews. The unusual setting played a role. Andrews said, “as soon as [the puck] started raising up, I just lost it in the stands.”
Kit Sitterly struck next for the Beacons on a controversial call at 10:41. The puck seemingly disappeared under Sutliffe’s pads, but Sitterly was able to jam it in to the net. The screams of “it’s in” from the Beacons could be heard throughout Fenway, and despite lengthy complaints from the Vikings coaching staff, the goal was allowed to stand.
After Salem State equaled up the score, the teams returned to their respective clubhouses to regroup, and coach Belisle re-stressed that the team needed to play a simple game that involved throwing pucks on the net.
“Funnel the puck to the nets, simple plays, no more. It wasn’t a pretty game to watch, it was a lot of hard work. The puck was bouncing so much. In a normal game, you have to take care of the puck at both blue lines but even more so in today’s game when the puck was bouncing like it was.”
As much fun as the experience was for the Beacons, the 15th ranked team in the nation knew that they had to get a win to keep pace in the incredibly tight ECAC East, and they took the ice in the third with good energy even as the temperature continued to plummet.
Peter MacIntyre and Travis Daniel, two standout Beacons in their final years of eligibility, combined on the game winning score. The goal, off of MacIntyre’s stick with 15:56 to go, seemed to have been affected by the weather, as Sutliffe got a piece of it but it bounced off his hard pads into the back of the net. Andrews shut down the Vikings attack for the entire period, even after the two teams switched sides at 10:00 and he was forced to guard the net that had been a problem for him in the second period. Connor McStravick tacked on empty netter at 19:52 to give the Beacons a hard-fought, well-deserved 4-2 win, which the throwback-jersey-clad Beacons celebrated at center ice before meeting with the Vikings for a traditional handshake.
For everyone involved in this matchup, which was the first Beacons victory over Salem State since 1999, it was a very special day. Coach Belisle said, “it is not very often that you get to play on a big stage like this… and to get rewarded with a win in a very good, tough game, it’s just an awesome feeling so I think we’re just ecstatic and grateful for the opportunity.”
He added, “we talked about using this game as something to springboard us into our ultimate goal of winning an ECAC East championship and qualifying for a national tournament… today was the best college hockey coaching moment for me, no question, but I think it’d be sweeter to win a league championship over a long period of time.”
The Beacons are currently on the longest unbeaten streak in their history, having not lost a match since November 8, a streak of 13 straight wins or draws. Frozen Fenway was a very memorable game for sure, but it is quickly starting to look like it’ll be just one very special moment in a memorable season.