There are no words that suffice to describe the Dorchester Bantam B's effort in the State Tournament. While the effort ended in a loss, on a fluke goal in the semi-final game against Somerset, Watupa, and Swansea (SWS), the B's got to the penultimate game the hard way.
There were no byes in their journey. What was required was six playoff wins in a row. In their quest, the B's faced the best of the best; quality opponents from all corners of eastern Massachusetts and by virtue of their demonstrated ability to come from behind in crucial situations, they have placed themselves squarely among the elite teams in the State.
Confines of space make an accurate summary of the four games that took place over last weekend impossible. (Three wins - versus Andover 5-3, Cambridge 9-0, Burlington 3-2 and one loss versus SWS, 3-2.) What is submitted in its place is a roster of names of the intrepid young men who did their families and their neighborhood proud with the talent and sense of fair play which they consistently displayed throughout the State Tournament. They are (in mostly random order):
Connor Leary: whose "swan song" to Bantam hockey was marked by 4 goals, an assist and some terrific playmaking, to lead the B's in the scoring department, during the tournament; Johnny LeBlanc, who added 2 tournament goals and an assist to a readiness to strike at every opportunity; Rob Flynn, whose 2 goals and an assist were key to the B's march into the semifinals and whose presence on the ice was always felt by opponents. Michael Sartori, who in addition to his 2 goals and an assist marked the tournament with countless face-offs won, resulting in key possessions; Nick Lavie, whose 3 goals and 2 assists were coupled with such a physically dominating offensive play from a defensive position that all four opponents were left reeling; Matt Rattigan, who in addition to his point total was "all over the ice", consistently frustrating opponents, whether through breaking up power play attempts or just making it difficult to move the puck out of their end.
Jonathan Glennon, whose two assists in the series were coupled with adept play making and puck control; Paul Mylett, who just dominated opposing offenses with his physical play and kept defenses on their heels with his nuclear shot; Eugene Stancato, who added to his tournament exploits an ability to "lay on the beef" and who was, pound for pound, among the most physical players on the ice.
Anthony Strong, who in addition to his points in the series brought an athleticism and an infectious sense of controlled intensity, at a critical juncture in the season; Ryan Mullin, whose cool-headedness is something that coaches can't teach and whose "call to arms" against Andover showed his team that the highly-touted opponents from the north were beatable; David Arrufat: whose game has been rising all season long and whose headiness and puck movement from the point provided the assist on the B's stay-alive goal in the final game. Brian Johnson, whose speed, agility and "never-say-die" attitude were as crucial to the B's success in the series as they have been during the season; Brendan Driscoll, who not only scored 3 big goals during the tournament, but brought to the team his irrepressible attitude and positive perspective; Colin Dwyer, whose goal and 3 assists came in the midst of superlative defensive play, especially with key break ups in the final game. And last but not least, Dan Cotter, whose goal tending in the series was nothing short of sensational and whose infinitesimal goals per shot ratio has to be among the best around. As he's done all year, Dan kept his cool and snuffed out some tremendous quality attempts, especially in the effort against Burlington.
The B's are deeply appreciative of Head Coach Matt Morris and Assistant Coach Chris Barbour, whose patience and generosity have made for a very successful and memorable season. The B's also send out their thanks to Jim Driscoll whose availability during the Districts and States were central to the B's success. The B's also owe a debt of thanks to Brendan Gavaghan, whose unselfish back up to Dan Cotter provided welcomed reassurance.