BOSTON — On a recent Saturday afternoon, a cyclone was brewing in the TD Banknorth Garden. Deep in the heart of that hallowed sports barn, 26 of our finest local hockey players were donning their equipment with the silent determination of Roman gladiators readying for battle.
PAT’s two PeeWee teams had been re-organized into “white” and “blue” teams for a two-period exhibition scrimmage. When the teams finally took to the ice, it was clear that the Garden was about to experience its most exciting hockey game in recent memory.
The legion of PAT fans that had made the journey from central Massachusetts did not have to wait long for the action to heat up. PAT White’s Justin Packard and the Blue team’s Ryan McCarthy lined up in the big Bruin’s logo at center ice for the face-off, the puck was dropped and the game was under way.
Only 50 seconds into the action, the Blue team struck when McCarthy took a picture-perfect pass from Michael Carson and fired a bullet into the White team’s net. Minutes later, Blue goalie Brandon Donohoe, amazingly playing in his second game of the day, made a strong statement that pucks were not welcome in his net when he stopped the talented James Meinuer on a clean breakaway. But White’s goalie, Mark Frederick, had a statement of his own to make.
At 19:25 of the period, Blue team’s Garret Carmichael flew down the right wing boards and unloaded a cannon of a shot at Frederick. Amazingly, Frederick managed to get a pad on the shot and turned it harmlessly aside.
Soon, both goaltenders were being tested. At 17:50, White’s Sam Galeota put a picture-perfect pass on the stick of the-high flying Meinuer but Donohoe again slammed the door. Two minutes later, at the other end of the ice, Blue’s crafty Andrew Haluska passed from the corner to sniper Jay Cobleigh. Cobleigh blasted a fierce one-timer that Frederick turned aside.
Back and forth the action went. The Blue’s Mike Meehan electrified the crowd with an end-to-end rush up the right side and fired off one of his patented wrist shots, which was turned away by the busy Frederick. The White team’s net minder continued to stop everything that came his way. Not to be outdone, Donohoe somehow managed to kick aside a shot after the White team’s Miles Massida put a pinpoint pass on the stick of the flying Galeota, who blasted one at the goaltender.
Something had to give, and in the waning minutes of the first period, it finally did. At the 2:17 mark, sniper Josh Miller took a slick pass from Packard and tucked it behind the sprawling Donohoe.
However, the Blue team would have the period’s last laugh. With time running out, the Blue’s Sean Mullen stormed into the White defensive zone and whistled a low drive that found the back of the net with one second remaining on the clock. The crowed erupted as the siren went off, signaling the end of the period.
The second period started with the same high intensity that ended the first period. At 23:00, the White’s ever-dangerous Greg Howell stole the puck at center and fired a laser beam shot that Donohoe just managed to block. Moments later, White’s Josh McLeman and Chris Babineau stormed the net with a two-on-two rush that only another miracle save prevented from being a score.
At he other end, the Blue team’s Dylan Conner and Brenden Barry executed a perfect give-and-go that Barry almost rammed home.
The defenses of both teams dominated the early second period. The Blue team’s Evan O’Reilly continually frustrated any opposing forward foolish enough to try and come down his side of the ice. In the White team end, T.J. Melanson and Kyle Joy were rocks at their blue line and the unrelenting back-checking of the energetic Danny McNamara kept the White end off-limits to Blue forwards. When a forward managed to penetrate the defenses, the goalies were more that up to the task.
The Blue team struck for their first second-period goal when playmaking wizard Justin Kauppi slipped a pass onto the stick of the high-flying McCarthy, who rammed the puck home.
Then, at 14:49 of the period, came the moment the PAT faithful had been waiting for. The White team’s Samantha Donohoe grabbed a loose puck in her own end, fought her way through five Blue skaters and broke in alone for a showdown with the Blue net minder. Samantha unleashed a wicked drive that appeared to be stopped short of crossing the goal line by a stunned Brandon Donohoe. Unconfirmed reports claim that Samantha went back to the White bench reporting that her shot went in the net but since the instant replay camera was not in effect for this game, we will never know.
The second-period scoring drought ended at 13:53 when the Blue team’s Bailey Delaney took a feed at the point and ripped a drive that found net and sent the packed house into delirium once again.
Mike Carson ended the second period scoring with a breathtaking solo effort, storming down the right wing boards and drilling home a slap shot for a goal to go with his earlier assist.
The two teams ended the day’s action with an exciting shoot-out that nobody was quite sure who won because none of the coaches kept track of the goals.
After the scrimmage, the teams relaxed in the luxurious Banknorth locker room. There they were visited by Bruins star center Mark Savard, who spent some time talking to the players and answering their questions.