Ten months and a day after capturing the Division 1 South title, the Walpole boys’ hockey team finally returned to the ice Saturday.
With 18 players back from a team that was denied a chance to play at the TD Garden for a state championship thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, Walpole still looked the part of a team that was peaking at the right time last winter with a 3-0 blanking over Milton at Rodman Arena in the season opener for both teams.
“We’ve still got a lot of young kids,” Walpole coach Ron Dowd said. “They learned from last year, they got the experience and it’ll pay dividends down the road.”
Walpole won its final seven games in 2019-20, including four straight tournament games by a single goal, before the season met its untimely end. With senior goalie Jack Curran and a veteran defensive corps back in the fold, Walpole’s approach in its own end showed no signs of rust in holding the Wildcats to just five shots on net — all in the first half. (The Bay State Conference, like several other leagues across the state, is playing two 22:30 halves rather than three 15-minute periods this winter.)
In the offensive zone, junior Declan Hunter scored 3:28 into regulation for Walpole before senior Kevin McElaney connected on a shorthanded breakaway 34 seconds into the second.
“We’re trying to set an example by staying positive,” said McElaney, a co-captain. “We didn’t really know what was going to happen this year, but we had to believe we were going to have as many games as possible and try to stay healthy and do the right things on and off the ice.”
Sophomore Eddie Jackson had the final goal for Walpole 10:02 into the second half, the first of his career.
Ryan Dexter, a junior, made 30 saves for Milton in a losing effort.
Archbishop Williams 4, Arlington Catholic 2 — John Riley had a goal and assist, and Jack Brady scored his first varsity goal for the Bishops (3-0-1) in the Catholic Central road win at Ed Burns Arena.
Bedford 2, Waltham 2 — Seniors Jack Venuti and Bobby Marcus provided the offensive output for the host Buccaneers (0-1-1), and sophomore Drew Anderson tallied a goal for the Hawks (1-0-1) in the Dual County League contest at the Edge Sports Center.
Belmont 4, Lexington 0 — The goaltending tandem of senior Ben Banks and sophomore Ryan Griffin backstopped the Marauders (2-0) to victory in a Middlesex League matchup at the Burlington Ice Palace. Senior Declan Harrington scored twice in the win.
Braintree 5, Newton North 0 — Brady Leslie scored twice, and Garrett Coughlin and Kyle Hutchinson each netted their first varsity goals to spark the Wamps (2-0) in the Bay State win at Ryan Skating Arena in Watertown. Matt Duane also scored and Dylan Anderson made 10 saves.
Burlington 5, Wilmington 3 — Senior captain and forward Jack Jay scored a hat trick plus an assist for the Red Devils (2-0) in a Middlesex League road win at Ristuccia Arena.
Essex Tech 3, Greater Lowell/Nashoba Tech 1 — David Egan had two goals and an assist to lead the Hawks (2-0) to the Commonwealth Athletic victory at Essex Sports Center in Middleton.
Hanover 5, Duxbury 1 — Junior Robert Hanna scored twice, and classmate Tyler MacDermott scored once and added in assist as the Hawks (3-0) rolled in the Patriot League game at Hobomock Ice Arena in Pembroke.
Lincoln-Sudbury 6, Wayland 0 — Senior Brendan Cullen scored twice for the Warriors (2-0) in the Dual County League win at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough.
Medway 7, Bellingham 0 — Alex Infanger’s two goals led the way for the Mustangs (2-0), with Evan Monaghan earning the shutout in the Tri-Valley League at Sgt. Pirelli Veterans Rink in Franklin. Nathan Girard (goal, two assists), Pari Lykourinos (goal, two assists) and Cole Theodore (goal, three assists) also sparked Medway.
Norwood 8, Hopkinton 1 — Senior captain Jake Russo scored twice, and senior assistant captain Nick Spadorcia tallied one goal and two assists for the Mustangs (1-1) in the Tri-Valley League tilt at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough.
Pembroke 3, Plymouth South 2 — Anthony Birolini had a goal and assist, and Ryan Mulhern scored the winning goal as the Titans (2-1) prevailed in a Patriot League battle at Hobomock Ice Arena.
Triton 6, Lynnfield 2 — James Tatro tallied a hat trick and Brady Lindholm added three assists for the Vikings (2-0) in the Cape Ann League victory at Graf Rink in Newburyport.
Canton 5, Franklin 2 — Senior Ellie Roberts led the Bulldogs (2-0) with two goals, and classmate Elizabeth Tassinari scored once. Juniors Tess Khoury and Payton McDonough also scored in the Hockomock road victory at Sgt. Pirelli Veterans Rink.
King Philip 3, Mansfield 2 — Kelly Holmes scored twice, including the game-winner, to lift the Warriors (1-0-1) to the Hockomock victory at the Foxboro Sports Center.
Newton North/Newton South 2, Braintree 0 — Freshman Danielle Morrill scored both goals and junior Camille Kouroriez earned the shutout for the Orange Crush (1-1), who avenged a loss to the Wamps earlier this week in the Bay State Conference matchup at Zapustas Rink in Randolph.
Norwood 4, Medfield/Norton 2 — Maeve Glavin and Caeli Reed each scored a pair of goals as the host Mustangs (1-1) prevailed at the Skating Club of Boston, avenging a loss to the Warriors earlier this week.
Peabody 5, Masconomet 3 — Chloe Shaleigh and Paige Thibedeau had two goals each, and the Tanners prevailed in their Northeast Conference season-opener at McVann-O’Keefe Skating Rink.
Pembroke 4, Cohasset/Hanover 0 — Kaleigh Murphy posted a shutout in the Titans’ Patriot League win at Hobomock Ice Arena. Meghan Hanrahan tallied her first varsity goal for Pembroke (2-1).
Waltham 2, Concord-Carlisle 1 — Angalisa Caceda and Bella Babstock each scored in the Hawks’ season-opening Dual County League win at Edge Sports Center. Mila Maguire had 25 saves in the victory.
Abington 79, East Bridgewater 48 — Senior Matt Maguire tallied 29 points in the Green Wave victory, propelling him over the 1,000-point plateau for his career. Fellow seniors Derek Nuttall (14 points) and Matt D’Ambrosio (8 points) also chipped in offensively in the South Shore League contest.
Arlington 70, Melrose 60 — Senior Dennis Ho led the visiting Spy Ponders with 20 points in a Middlesex League win.
Winchester 61, Reading 38 — Senior captains Omar Shakeel (15 points) and Sean Gogolin (14) led Winchester (1-0) in a Middlesex League road game.
Arlington 48, Woburn 30 — Senior Claire Ewen scored 23 points for the Spy Ponders in a Middlesex League win at home.
Lexington 64, Belmont 42 — The Minutemen were paced by sophomore Maddie Parks’ 17 points and junior Cate Aggouras’s 16 points in their Middlesex League road win.