In an instant classic in the final game of Cushing’s 11th Annual Pink the Rink event, the Varsity B Boys’ Hockey Penguins defeated a strong Tilton School squad for the first time in several seasons. Despite the Penguins excellent record over the last two seasons, both culminating in Rust Cup championships, this generation of players and coaches had never defeated the Rams of Tilton.
The Penguins came out of the tunnel determined in front of a packed Pink the Rink crowd as the team played in memory of JVB player Ryan Basile’s mother Michelle Benedetti, who passed away after her second battle against cancer in May 2019. The team was looking to keep the crowd amped up and give them reasons to donate to the cause as all proceeds will be sent to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to support future research and treatment in the fight against cancer.
The Penguins played a strong game where they controlled long stretches of play. Brendan Dougherty ‘20 laid a few monstrous, and legal, checks to pump up the Cushing faithful and get the Penguin bench onto their feet. Halfway through the first period, defenseman Brian Lemay ‘21 was on the receiving end of passes from Trevor Hada ‘20 and Caleb Vogel ‘20 and he let loose a laser of a shot from the point. Lemay’s shot found its way through the traffic in front of the Rams’ net and tucked itself away into the back of the net to give Cushing the 1-0 lead.
Both teams headed into the first intermission with the score 1-0 in favor of the home team Penguins. The lead held into the second before the Rams capitalized on a rebound in front of the Penguins net and tied the score at 1 apiece. With Tilton riding the momentum of their goal, they took it to the Penguins throughout the second period, but the defensive rotation of Luke Kowalka ‘20, Lemay, Josh Levesque ‘20, Aidan Gorman ‘22, and Shane McElhaney ‘22 were stout in front goalie Ben Speyer (26 saves).
The game went into the third period remaining deadlocked at 1-1 with the Cushing coaches continuing to push at the Penguins to get pucks to the net. In back-and-forth action during the third period, Cushing earned a powerplay and capitalized to take a 2-1 lead. Seamus Cummings ‘22 snagged a pass on the right-wing from Levesque and Kowalka before sniping the Rams’ goalie high glove-side for a beautiful Penguins’ goal. Cushing looked to play smart hockey to close out the third period and even prevented Tilton from pulling their goal when they originally wanted to with pucks deep into the Rams defensive zone. When Tilton finally got an opportunity to pull their goalie for the extra skater, Cummings spoiled the attempt at an equalizer when he collected the puck in the neutral zone and fired off a shot in the midst of taking a hit. The shot found its way into the Rams’ net and Cushing had the insurance goal they needed to secure the 3-1 win on home ice. Kowalka and Dougherty had the assists on the Cummings goal, who had a strong game with two goals. Today was a total team effort where the squad executed the game plan to defeat the rival Rams’ team.
The Penguins head into exam week and will not return to the ice for game action until after the winter break. Upon return from break the team will welcome Academy St. Louis into Iorio Arena for a 1:00pm game on Saturday, January 11, 2020.
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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.