Tattersall delivers in OT for Keene boys' hockey in finals rematch with St. Thomas Aquinas
Rarely does a student decide to transfer from a prep school back to his hometown high school campus.
But the stars aligned just right for the Keene High boys’ hockey team and junior Jerred Tattersall, who transferred from Northfield Mount Hermon this year.
Keene offered the comforts of home, old friends on the hockey team’s roster and the chance to play for a defending state champion.
The kicker is that the return had a storybook start, as the junior transfer scored a short-handed overtime goal Wednesday to hand the Blackbirds a thrilling 4-3 win over St. Thomas Aquinas at Keene ICE, a still-new ice palace where celebratory moments have become cool and common.
To boot, the contest was a rematch of last year’s Division II title game, won by Keene to complete an unbeaten season.
So buckle up, folks. It would seem the fun, again, is just beginning.
Tattersall’s game-ending heroics were but a part of his contribution on opening night. He also assisted on the team’s other three goals.
“It feels awesome,” Tattersall said. “It’s quite an accomplishment, to be honest. Couldn’t be more happy with our team and how we played today.”
Tattersall immediately gelled with old friend and new line-mate Brian Langevin, who scored twice and assisted on the other two scores.
Skating down the right side on the penalty kill with less than three minutes left in the extra period, Langevin, a junior co-captain, found Tattersall on the cross, and Tattersall found the back of the net.
It was far from the only time the two connected, as Tattersall found Langevin for both of his two scores in the second period, and the pair each got an assist on a goal by junior co-captain Ben Brown in the third.
“I’ve known Brian for a long time,” Tattersall said. “I started skating with him when I was younger. I know how to play with him. We’ve got stick-and-puck going on here at the rink, so most of the time I’ll play with him there. We just know how to play with each other.”
It was far from a perfect effort for the defending champs, who blew a 3-1 lead in the final five minutes of regulation. The Birds came through when it mattered, and that was a good sign for a team without some key players from a season ago, including goalie Myles Ditkoff and winger Timmy Greenwood, both all-staters.
“It feels good. It kind of sets the tone for the season,” Langevin said. “It kind of shows what we are around the league, shows other teams what we’re going to be like this year.”
After a scoreless first period, the Birds were the first on the board when Tattersall found the puck at mid-ice during a penalty kill and saw Langevin make a bee-line for the net. Tattersall shoveled a pass over a defender’s stick, and Langevin tracked it down and broke in alone. With an easy-looking wrist shot, he put Keene up 1-0 less than five minutes into the period.
“That’s something we’ve kind of talked about and worked on a little bit,” Langevin said. “Jerred, he’s just got a lot of intellect when he’s out there, he knows what he’s doing, he’s played some of the top-level hockey around here. That’s just something we’ve talked about, and it’s good to execute during a game.”
St. Thomas responded with a goal by senior co-captain Patrick Vetter three minutes later to tie the game, but Langevin launched another wrister past the goalie from just beyond the face-off circle with 3:21 left in the second period. Tattersall and sophomore Peter Haas assisted.
Brown’s goal — a power-play score with 5:51 remaining in the third — should have been the dagger, but the defending runners-up didn’t lay down.
Once again, the Saints responded quickly, with a goal by senior Michael Somerset just one minute after Brown’s score, to cut the lead to one.
The Birds tried to fend off the visitors’ desperate final assault, but struggled to keep the puck out of their own end. Finally, with 1:29 left, after Keene sophomore goalie Jacob Russell appeared to stop a shot, but failed to hold onto the puck, Saints senior Mathis Savard poked it through for the equalizer.
“Those are two tough goals,” Keene Coach Chris McIntosh said. “It wasn’t like they were the most prettiest goals in the world. They were in front of the net and they kept whacking at the puck, whacking at the puck in the crease there, and they ultimately went in.
“So, I feel good about it, I couldn’t look at one major breakdown that we had tonight, and that’s impressive to me, because we’re putting a lot of guys on the back end that haven’t been there before.”
What happened next will be the water-cooler conversation starter at the school today.
A holding penalty put Keene a man down at a bad time, but Tattersall and Langevin worked their magic one more time and sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
That’s not a new thing in this venue.
It should be noted, too, that the Birds’ winning start came without last year’s title-game hero, junior Joe Walsh, who is nursing a foot injury.
Walsh, the Keene coach said, is Tattersall’s best friend.
When they are reunited, he said, “That will be something very dangerous, that’s for sure, and even more exciting to watch.
The Birds play at Spaulding Saturday at 8 p.m.