Hopedale Hockey

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
photos by Steve Bassignani
Issue Date: 
April, 2020
Article Body: 

Coming into the season Hopedale Hockey Coach Mike MacQuarrie was not exactly sure what he was going to get out of his sophomore goaltender. As a freshman last season Johnny Tomaso saw himself get into a handful of games for the Blue Raiders , but this year he was the team’s starting goalie and needless to say the young keeper did his part as Hopedale rode him all the way to the Division 3A Central Championship game.
After finishing the regular season with a 10-5-5 record the Blue Raiders defeated Oakmont 3-2 in overtime of the first round and then took out Grafton 4-1 before falling to Lunenburg in the finale. In the Championship game Hopedale was within striking distance down by a mere goal before Lunenburg netted an empty goal to secure the Championship.
“We were right there till the very end and the boys played exceptional hockey. Having only two seniors on our team we hung tough against a team that has been the finals the last three years,” MacQuarrie said. “I was unsure how we were going to be with a sophomore goaltender starting for the first time. I knew that we had the skill up front, but I had no idea what was going to happen with our goaltending.”
According to the Hopedale Coach, Tomaso came into camp having grown a bit in the off-season, although he was still not the biggest of kids, but he was very athletic between the pipes. Now that he has year of experience under his belt, he could be an all-star consideration if he takes his game to the next level.
Prior to the season getting underway the Hopedale Coach was looking to advance into the tournament and get a win. Behind the goaltending of Tomaso Hopedale did that and then some. The Blue Raiders were able to light the lamp 95 time this past year, second only to Northbridges 98, while the squad posted a team best +49 goal differential against its opponents. The team also decreased the number of shots they allowed their opponents to put on their net – last year Hopedale goalies faced an average of 40 shots per contest, while this year only saw a little over 20.

Despite having to play nine of their first 10 games on the road, having a new head coach with a new system and no real time to practice MacQuarrie was hoping that the team would go a modest .500. Instead Hopedale went 5-3-2 during the time span.
As the squad continued to battle night in and night out about the midway point of the season the Hopedale locker room saw the flu breeze through and along with some injury’s things could have been tragic. The Blue Raiders battled whatever adversary that came their way and even put together a nine-game streak without a loss.
During the previous year Hopedale had consistently been shut out, but this winter the squad fought tough and played consistent hockey throughout the year and didn’t allow anyone to hold them to a goose egg. The team scored close to 5 goals a game up from 3, while posting a 1.25goals against average and outscored its opponents during a three-game stretch 30-1.
The year also included a numerous number of firsts for the program. Hopedale finally got wins against Worcester, Watertown, Blackstone Valley Tech, a team they beat three times this past season and Framingham, a sixth ranked team that Hopedale was able to win in a convincing fashion by a 10-0 tally.
Offensively Hopedale was led by junior Hunter Dunn, who was the Central Mass leader in assists. Dunn netted 17 goals and added 31 helpers in his unselfish play. Senior Captains PJ Gray and Nick {Paterson also contributed in putting the puck behind the opposition goalie on a regular basis. Paterson had 10 goals and 10 assists, while Gray, who missed six games, managed to find the net on 15 occasions and had a career high in assists.
While the upper classmen were continually scoring goals, freshman Brady Butler had himself a year to remember.
“Brady was outstanding scoring 23 goals this year and was actually leading the league in scoring until late in the season,” the Coach said. “He’s a very smart hockey with speed and come next second he should really be improved.”
Defensively Michael Govani, Cam Gibbons, Matt Gerard and Joey Mahoney were stellar for the Blue Raiders in their run to the tournament. Govani was not only responsible for bringing the puck up ice for Hopedale he was also the rock behind the blueline. Gibbons was the team’s leader on the defensive side of the ice in scoring, while Gerard was the most consistent all season playing shut down defense. Mahoney was a 6’ freshman who is going to be a good player for Hopedale in the near future.
Gibbons, Gray, Paterson and Dunn were all named to the Russell Conference All-Star team and Gray and Dunn each recorded their 100th point during the season.
Having put together an impressive season on the ice Hopedale will only be losing Gray and Patterson to graduation next winter and should be able to make another strong run in the tournament.
According to MacQuarrie the team will be looking to once secure a spot in the state tournament while winning a couple of playoff games and hopefully back to the finals. Only to bring home a championship.
“We’ll see how the kids respond during the off-season and come into camp next year,” The Hopedale Coach said. “They left the season geared up to meet the challenge next year, especially as we’ll have an X on our backs and won’t be sneaking up on anyone.”
Although the team will only be losing two seniors, they were very instrumental in where the team got this season. Coach MacQuarrie knows that he will not be able to replace Patterson and Gray’s production with two players, he’d be more than happy if the team can put up those type of numbers with four players. MacQuarrie will have to wait until next winter to find out and who knows maybe Butler will take a big leap forward in his second campaign. What ever happens it looks as though Hopedale will have enough fire power to make another run at the Division 3A Central Championship.