East Bridgewater is one team in particular that is grateful to have its leading scorer back on the ice in 2021.
However, barring something rare and unusual, don’t look for sophomore Anthony Patete to be filling opposing nets any time soon. Instead, Patete is charged with protecting the 4-by-6 cage in the Vikings’ defensive zone this season.
In a school year during which athletic directors, coaches, and administrators are doing all they can to provide athletes an opportunity to pull on their hometown colors during the pandemic, Patete went out of his way to do the same.
“I decided to play goalie for the seniors, or else they wouldn’t have had a season,” Patete said.
He has made the switch from forward, making his debut in Sunday night’s 6-3 loss to South Shore League rival Rockland.
Mike D’Errico is in his first season as coach, took over the position late in the fall. A 1988 East Bridgewater graduate, D’Errico previously has coached freshman and junior varsity baseball, most recently at Middleborough, where his son, Stephen, is a senior on the hockey team. He also is a longtime youth hockey coach, having worked with about a half-dozen current Vikings players in the past, so the connection to the team was there.
“A lot of people started reaching out to me. I always wanted to coach at the high school level,” D’Errico said.
East Bridgewater also explored the possibility of finding another school to form a co-op, but D’Errico said numbers weren’t an issue. He started the season with seven seniors on the roster and 23 players overall.
However, none were goalies.
East Bridgewater had a pair of sophomore goalies last year, but both transferred.
Enter Patete, who said he had played a couple of games in goal during youth hockey. He and his father, Tony, had to buy goalie equipment, which they said the school is helping to reimburse.
“Without him doing this, we probably wouldn’t have had a goaltender this year,” said D’Errico, who credited goalie coach Pat McKenna with getting Patete ready.
Patete also is a goalkeeper in soccer for the Vikings, so he was able to draw some from those experiences.
“The movements are different, moving around the net,” he said. “Playing your angles are kind of the same, even with a different size net.”
In his debut, Patete faced 37 shots against a Rockland team that returned six South Shore League All-Stars. Three of the Bulldogs’ goals came on the power play.
“It was a good experience. I know all the Rockland guys from youth hockey, playing against them,” Patete said, adding that the Bulldogs certainly didn’t take it easy on him. He remembered one particular shot that Rockland’s Joey Salamone “ripped” from about 10 feet out.
However, Patete’s efforts weren’t lost on his opponents.
“A lot of those guys came up to him after the game, and put their arm around him,” said Tony Patete, who was getting texts and messages all night from people watching the game online. “They really respected what he did.”
Said Rockland coach Mike Flaherty: “They are all pretty close friends, so I am not surprised that my guys had some good things to say to him. I grabbed him after the game heading out of the rink and I told him what he’s doing takes a lot of courage and that I sincerely can appreciate what he is doing, not only for himself, but more so for his team.”
D’Errico said Patete’s efforts reflect the overall mindset of the Vikings.
“We don’t have a deep team, but we have a lot of kids with a lot of heart,” D’Errico said. “So not too bad for a sophomore who’s never played in that role before.”
Ultimately, he would like to be able to return to his forward position next season.
“He is a kid who was an all-star forward in our league last year and gave that spot up for his team, which tells you a lot about him and his character,” Flaherty said. “The type of kid you love to have on your team.”
▪ Sunday’s unusual nonleague game had the potential to be a showcase of two senior goalies, and Nantucket’s James Culkins and Norwell’s Sean Ennis lived up to that billing for almost the entire 45 minutes.
Senior Marsh Hickman and junior Camden Knapp stole the show for Nantucket in the final seconds. Hickman converted a feed from Knapp with 1.1 seconds to play to give the Whalers a 1-0 victory.
Knapp started the play when he jumped up on a cross-ice pass in the defensive zone and forced a turnover along the right boards just inside the blue line. While falling down, Knapp poked the puck behind the net, then got up and stayed with the forecheck as Norwell tried to regroup. Skating behind the net, Knapp continued to forecheck hard and forced another turnover, then sent the puck to the doorstep to Hickman, who beat Ennis just before the buzzer.
Culkins, last year’s Cape & Islands Lighthouse MVP, earned his second shutout in as many games.
The game itself was a buzzer-beater of sorts. Nantucket was slated to face Bishop Stang at Hetland Arena in New Bedford, but when Stang’s athletic programs went on pause, Norwell arranged to purchase the ice time and make the late schedule change, according to Whalers coach Scott Corbett.
“We’re both extremely happy it worked out. [Norwell coach Jim Casagrande] and I really want these games to be a yearly thing,” said Corbett, noting it’s the kind of matchup the Whalers want to continue to grow their 12-year-old program.
▪ Pembroke and Old Rochester/Fairhaven are two teams probably happy to see the calendar turn to 2021.
Both went winless in 2019-20, but already had broken the ice in the first week of their respective schedules this season. Pembroke is off to a 2-1 start, as the Titans outlasted Quincy, 6-4, last Wednesday and then came back with a 3-2 win over Plymouth South. Junior captain Anthony Birolini had two goals and an assist against Quincy, then added a goal and assist Saturday against South.
ORR/Fairhaven overwhelmed Greater New Bedford, 13-0, just days after squandering a late lead in a 2-2 tie against Bourne. The Bulldogs, who managed only 20 goals all last season, received hat tricks from senior Chris Gauvin and freshman Chase Couture.
Jim Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.