In a thrilling Friday night Rust Cup semi-final, the Cushing Varsity “B” Boys’ Hockey Penguins emerged victorious 1-0 over a strong Avon Old Farms squad. The team earned the win and a chance to play for the Rust Cup repeat tomorrow against another strong team in Salisbury School.
Tonight’s game started off with a short pre-game ceremony to honor the seniors of this season’s team and to thank them for their contributions. Those seniors included forward captain Josh Beese, defenseman captain Adam Canfield, forward Elbert Rassuyev, forward Nick White, and forward Garrett Young.
The Penguins started the game with energy fueled from the excitement of the tournament and the buzz from the crowd, but they got hemmed into their own zone when they took a few penalties early on. Ben Speyer ’20 was in his familiar spot between the pipes for the Penguins and he stood tall with 14 saves in the first period alone. Near the end of the first period, forward Nick White ’19 rushed down the wing and fired off a shot on the Avon netminder. The Avon goalie made the initial save, but left a juicy rebound for White to collect and feed to Trevor Hada ’20, who quickly found fellow line mate Garrett Young ’19. Young wasted no time in netting a huge blue-collar rebound goal, a goal which would stand the test of the remaining two periods. The Cushing fans erupted and the building was electrified as the Penguins headed into the first intermission holding the slim 1-0 lead.
Young’s goal would be the only goal the Penguins would need on the night as Speyer stood on his head between the pipes and both teams played a tight-checking game. The forward nucleus of lines Brendan Dougherty ’20 – Josh Beese ’19 – Seamus Cummings ’22 and White – Young – Hada in combination with defensive pairs Luke Kowalka ’20 – Shane McElhaney ’22 and Adam Canfield ’19 – Brian Lemay ’21 played a solid game start to finish. The forwards and defensemen mentioned logged the bulk of the minutes in the game, blocked a multitude of Avon shots to the net, and made defensive plays all over the ice throughout the game. It was these defensive efforts from forwards and defenders which allowed for the team’s opportunities on the Avon net.
The player of the game for the Penguins was goalie Speyer, who was spectacular throughout making 42 saves for the shutout! Some of Speyer’s biggest saves came in the closing minutes of the third when Avon pulled their goalie for the extra skater and were pressing hard for the tying goal. Speyer turned away great opportunity after great opportunity with the poise of a veteran goaltender.
The team will return to the ice tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 23rd at 2:00pm to defend their Rust Cup Championship from the 2017-2018 season. Their opponent will be a tough and physical Salisbury School.
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Cushing Academy exists for students and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Founded in 1865, Cushing is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in our outstanding academic, art, and athletic offerings. We welcome you to visit our community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., just one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.