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One Streak Ends, While Another Continues

February 15, 2024

• Needham Boys Hockey fell short to Walpole on Wednesday, snapping their 4 game win streak, while Boys Basketball toppled the Timberwolves on Thursday, improving their streak to 7.

Both Boys Hockey and Boys Basketball hosted Walpole this week in their last bay state conference matchups of the season. It started on Valentines day, where hockey was looking to grab their 5th straight win, their 10th overall. They had defeated the Timberwolves earlier this year 3-0, however this game would go the opposite route, as they Rockets found themselves trailing 3-0 at the end of 2 periods.

Walpole’s first strike came with only 6.6 seconds left in the opening period. Owen McKenna would steal the puck right in front of Needham’s net, and bury it past freshman goalie, Carson Brownridge. This would only be the 3rd start of the season for Brownridge, who normally backs up junior goalie, Conor Espinola.

Penalties would play a factor in the 2nd period. With 7 minutes remaining, Jake Sieczkowski would be called for checking, sending him to the penalty box, the 2nd Needham penalty of the night. It wouldn’t take long for the T-Wolves to take advantage, with just about a minute into the power play they would score again, going up 2-0. It wouldn’t stop there, with exactly 2 minutes left in the 2nd, Joe Fink finds a second chance opportunity off a save from Brownridge, and puts Walpole up by 3.

The 3rd period is where things get interesting. The Rockets could have just laid down and accepted defeat after letting up 3 unanswered goals, but instead they did the opposite. Brownridge held his own in most of the 1st period, but after letting up 3 goals, head coach Mike Hoban made the change to Conor Espinola, the usual starter for the Rockets, who would keep them scoreless while he was in net.

About halfway through the final period, Needham would finally execute. Matt Rutter would score the first Needham goal of the night, assisted by both Matt Ledbury and Sean Riley. With just under 3 minutes to play, the refs would call Walpole for icing, setting up a face off in their own end, giving the Rockets a chance to call timeout and set up a scoring opportunity, which is exactly what happened.

Joe Kajunksi, the leader in points this season, would win the face off and find Jimmy Kenney at the point. Kenney fires it right back to Kajunski who settles, turns, and scores. Just like that, we have a completely different game from the first two periods. At the 1:09 minute mark the Rockets would have another face off in Walpole’ end, but this time it wouldn’t go as planned. At this point, Needham has pulled Espinola leaving an empty net open. Although they would win the face off, Kenney would unfortunately slip on the ice as the puck was being passed to him, and the T-Wolves found themselves the perfect opportunity to put away the dagger, scoring the empty netter.

Despite a great late game effort, Needham could not complete the comeback and lose to Walpole, 4-2. This would end their 4 game winning streak, dropping their record to 9-7-1. The boys will hit the road for their next two contests before returning to Babson for likely their last home game of the season against Barnstable on Wednesday, February 21st at 6:45 pm. Highlights for Walpole will be posted on Friday, the 16th.

Meanwhile, on Thursday night Boys Basketball hosted the T-Wolves on their senior night, where everyone was involved in the impressive 74-52 win. The six Rocket seniors: Brian Cloonan, Campbell Keys, Devin Dellamargio, Harrison Goodrow, and Chris Morrison were the only ones to play during the 1st quarter.

The only lead Walpole had throughout the whole game was from the very jump, 2-0. Ever since then it was all Needham. They started on a 11-0 run to start out, led by eight 1st quarter points from Cloonan, who would have 23 on the night to lead all players. At the end of the 1st, Needham would be ahead 19-12.

The closest Walpole would get is within 11 points in the 2nd, but after back to back baskets from Cloonan and a three point play from Ben Marino, Needham would head into the break up 39 to 25.

The game would be put away in the 3rd quarter. The Timberwolves would once again pull within 11, but two threes in a row from Chris Morrison and Keys would push the lead to 17, and it never got closer from that point on. The most flashy play of the night would be from Keys, as he would steal the ball and on a fast break pulled out a behind the back pass to fellow captain Jackson Shaw who finished the play, making it 63 to 37 at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Rockets went deep into the bench for the entirety of the 4th quarter. Ben Marino scored the first Needham basket with 3:14 left to play. From there the 3’s would start falling, with Alex Dudley hitting a pair and Max Goodrow adding one as well.

Needham would walk away with the dominant 74 to 52 win over Walpole, improving their record to 13-4. With the exception of Aidan Williams who is out with an injury, all 14 players saw some court time in the Rockets 7th straight win. Brian Cloonan led the way with 23 points, Campbell Keys added 13, Devin Dellamargio and Chris Morrison both contributed 7 of their own. The boys will be on the road for the rest of the regular season, first in a Presidents Day tournament at Woburn High School this Sunday and Monday, and rounding it off with a tough non conference matchup with BC High on Wednesday, February 21st at 12pm.

Here are the top plays of Senior Night!

Here are the highlights from the Hockey game:

The Hockey highlights from this story ran as part of the Needham Channel News, a weekly newscast airing on The Needham Channel every Thursday at 7:30pm. The Needham Channel News can be found on the Community Channel: Comcast 9, Astound 15 and Verizon 29. Most Thursdays it also can be viewed on our HD Channel on Verizon 2129, Astound 613 and streaming on this site.

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