Pressured by a Dexter Southfield player, defenseman Michael Bagnoli ’22 dove for the puck and flicked his stick over his head to make a crucial save, maintaining the narrow one-goal lead earned by winger Nolan Roche ’23. Andover Boys Hockey ultimately defeated Dexter 4-3 in a tight back and forth game on Saturday. On Wednesday, despite an early goal by Co-Captain Connor Fitzpatrick ’22 in the first period, the team fell 3-7 to Kimball Union Academy (KUA). The team’s record now stands at 13-8.
According to Jake Ledoux ’24, playing Dexter was much more challenging compared to other opponents the team has faced. In preparation for the game, the team worked on strengthening its foundations as a team rather than the individual skills of its players.
“We focused a lot on our systems and making sure we were ready as a unit to play at peak performance and it translated very well into our game,” wrote Ledoux in an email to the Phillipian.
In addition to teamwork, Andover’s preparation leading up to the game focused on tactics to halt Dexter’s biggest threats. Shane Spinale ’22 emphasizes the role that Will Winemaster ’23 played in stopping Dexter’s Will Hughes from shooting.
“Going into the game, we actually knew one of the kids on Dexter, Will Hughes, [who] went here. So we had one of our players, [Will Winemaster ’23], matched up against him. So everytime that Will Hughes was on the ice, we would have [Winemaster] go out and just try to keep him away from our net and basically just stop him from doing anything because he is really good. [Hughes is] one of the Harvard commits,” said Spinale.
Andover has historically struggled to defeat Dexter up until Saturday’s game. Rory Booth ’23 described the intense energy on the ice as both sides battled equally for the win.
“It was very high pace, very high energy. That was a game we were looking forward to for a very long time…It’s been a lot, a lot of years since Andover has beat Dexter, so the fact that we won that game. The energy was just ridiculous,” said Booth.
Despite its quick pace, Booth noticed that the game took place more on the defensive end of the ice. However, this also served as one of the team’s biggest strengths, as it allowed just three goals against Dexter.
“We were very defensively sound against Dexter… All of our [defense] played really [well], which I would say was our biggest strength. It wasn’t the highest scoring game that we’ve played all year, so it was certainly a very defensively-minded game,” said Booth.
Spinale credits the team’s goaltender, Shane Shelest ’22, as the foundation of the defense. With Dexter having double the amount of shots on goal than Andover, Shelest consistently made crucial saves throughout the game.
“Shane made a couple of saves that really saved that game for us, and I don’t really know what we’d do without him there. He carried us to that victory,” said Spinale.
Prior to Wednesday’s game, the team understood that it would be the underdog against KUA, which had multiple Division I commits. The team’s goal was to slow down its opponent’s speed of play and take advantage of as many opportunities as possible, according to Booth.
“In practice, we did a lot of focusing on how to handle their power play and how to handle their special teams stuff. They’re a very good team, they’re a very fast team, and a very skilled team as well. So a lot of what we’re doing was working towards slowing them down and making them chip pucks. Just a lot of hitting stuff as well,” said Booth.
Andover will face Governor’s Academy away on Saturday before hosting Cushing at home on Wednesday.