BRIGHTON – On the first day of 2022, Jason Bouffard did something he never imagined possible a year earlier.
Bouffard was a forward for the Swampscott High hockey team who, after discovering that the program did not have a goaltender for the 2021-22 season, volunteered to learn the position.
The sophomore looked as comfortable and confident in the Saturday crease as ice cubes in a freezer. Bouffard faced a constant barrage of shots from Essex Tech and turned off all but two, finishing with a spectacular 49-save performance as his Big Blue tied the Hawks, 2-2, at Warrior Arena, the training home of the Boston Bruins.
“Jason is a really good athlete, which we already knew,” Swampscott head coach Gino Faia said of Bouffard, who also plays baseball and golf for the Big Blue. “So when he volunteered to play goalie, we gave him a little practice, took him to goalie clinics and a summer league, and he played all fall in a midget league. He’s had a bunch of games, shots and reps. He looks very good in there. “
The tall, athletic Bouffard – who used a Warrior-branded stick to play Warrior – stayed straight to Essex Tech shooters, moved well from position to position, and gave up few rebounds. Those he surrendered to, defenders Quinn Hitchcock, TJ McCarthy, Zack Ryan and Aidan Fitzpatrick managed to get them out of harm’s way.
“We had a lot of really good chances on (Bouffard) but he kept making save after save,” Essex Tech head coach Mark Leonard said. “We have to find a way to put them in the net. There were too many passes or hooking to the puck instead of just putting it in the net. Giving up the goals was not our problem, we were the ones who scored them lately. “
Swampscott (2-3-1) scored the game’s first four shots on goal, the last of them with a goal from captain Zack Pierce for a 1-0 lead in less than four minutes. Something went off with Essex Tech at that point. , however, for it started to spice up Bouffard and never stopped.
Incredibly, the Hawks had 17 of the last 18 shots on goal of the first period, then started the second stanza with 16 shots on goal before the Big Blue had one. That’s 33 out of 34 chances in just over 15 minutes of play.
After a frustrating first period leading them to a goal, the Hawks (now 3-1-2) wasted no time in drawing a tie early in the halfway point. Captain David Egan passed inside the left circle and fired a shot that beat Bouffard just inside the near post.
Just over six minutes later, freshman center Brady Leonard gave Essex Tech a 2-1 lead. Either team’s top skater tonight – he had several great scoring opportunities, touched a post and created plenty of chances for himself and his teammates Jaydan Vargas and Chris Maher with his skating and his ice consciousness – wound up the slot on the power play and threw a net shooter that tore the top corner of Swampscott’s cage.
But Swampscott kept fighting, and on his third and final shot of the second period, they tied him up. Sophomore Derek Faia passed just before crossing the Essex Tech blue line and landed a slapshot that passed Hawks goaltender Kyle Mahan (14 saves) for his second goal of the season.
Afterward, both coaches were radiant to see their respective sons scoring goals on the Bruins’ practice rink.
“Every time you see him score it’s awesome,” Faia said of her son. “But scoring the tying goal for him is even better because it wasn’t just good for him, it was good for the whole team.”
“It’s special, I’m not going to lie to you,” Leonard added. “Watching Brady score his first goal in high school (against Hamilton-Wenham three days before Christmas) was great, but this one was really cool.
In the 5-minute 4-on-4 overtime, but the teams had chances to end it. Egan had the best bid for Essex Tech, going from the left wing to the lunge and throwing a blast to which Bouffard had to react quickly. Mahan made two of his best saves in the extra session, especially when he landed a high shot from Aidan Sprague from Swampscott and fended off a potential rebound attempt.
Forwards Will Roddy, Max Gadon, Kody Langevain and Pierce, as well as the always stable Hitchcock at the back, stood out for Swampscott, while Essex Tech got strong performances from Cam Doherty, Armani Booth and the rookie. Riley Sobezenski in defense in addition to Ryan Lariviere, Larry Graffeo, Logan Casey and Nick LoConte at the top.
Essex Tech 2, Swampscott 2 (OT)
at Warrior Arena, Brighton
Swampscott; 1; 1; 0; 0; 2
Essex Technology; 0; 2; 0; 0; 2
First period: S, Zack Pierce (Quinn Hitchcock), 3:48.
Second period: ET, David Egan (Jonathan Daley, Ryan Larivée),: 23; ET, Brady Leonard (Jaydan Vargas, Chris Maher), ppg, 6:49; S, Derek Faia (Will Roddy, Kody Langevain), 13:22.
Third period: No rating.
Over time: No rating.
Checked in: S, Jason Bouffard 49; ET, Kyle Mahan 14.
Recordings: S, 2-3-1; AND, 3-1-2.