After losing the first two “Front Office Hockey Classic” battles to RS/FSM, NESN’s squad upended the heavily favored hosts 7-3 in 2014’s frigid battle at Frozen Fenway, to take the Coach Jack McCormick Hockey Cup for the first time.
Led by head coach Joe DiDonato and his staff of assistant coaches Justin Hathaway, John O’Leary, Katie Colton and Scott Dello-Iacono — not to mention player-coach Greg “The Bandit” Leach, who kept things even keel both benchside and on the ice — the NESN squad’s balanced attack of four-plus lines and six defensemen proved to be too much for the Red Sox team.
First-line winger Jamison Coyle‘s quickness was too much for the Red Sox defense as the speedster accounted for three assists to pace the NESN attack. Centermen John Beattie and Matt Connell led the team with two goals apiece while Brian Murphy, Nigel Johnson and Steve Tagarelis — who accounted for the eventual game-winner — netted one each. With the heart of the team and third-line role player Colin “The Sheriff” Sheehan on injured reserve, the Tom Caron-led agitators, known as The Lager Lines, kept the Sox in check with what NHL Hall of Famer and VIP guest Ray Bourque called “a relentless forecheck” in a postgame interview with TC.
The defense in front of netminder Daniel Earle-Haddad was especially astounding, led by a gutsy performance from captain Andrew Burns. Iron horse Ray Guilbault, along with Ben Aring, Dave Desroches, Eric Haugen and Jeff Hancock, kept the Red Sox attack at bay for the majority of the game with physical play and great puck control, but Earle-Hadded, who took game MVP honors, came up with big save after big save to seal the win.
The Red Sox were led by smooth-skating captain Sam Kennedy and alternate captain Ed Weiss, whose physical play set the tone for a classic Boston tilt. The Sox squad donned beautiful red Boston Strong uniforms, each with No. 13 on the back. The sweaters and solidarity were a fantastic tribute to the year both the baseball club and city had in a very emotional 2013.