Kal Lonergan set for a face-off against Wachusett. Photos by Kara Lyons

Concord-Carlisle hockey conquers the Battle Road Classic 

January 3, 2024

By Jennifer Kamionek, Nancy Carter and Tina Labadini 

The Concord-Carlisle High School men’s hockey team captured the annual Battle Road Classic at the end of December, defeating both Acton-Boxboro and Wachusett Regional High School. 

“Great to repeat as tourney champs!” Coach Rian Murray said. “We couldn’t be more proud of the boys. We’re finding different ways to win games and that’s what good teams do.  

“Obviously, I’d be remiss not to mention Jay Carter joining the 100-point club,” he added. “Incredible accomplishment and a player I’m very fortunate to coach.” 

Coming off a recent close matchup against AB, CC was ready to play them again in the first round from the opening puck drop. Just four minutes into the first period, CC cycled patiently down low and found an open Ben Ohanian at the point, who took a shot through traffic to get CC on the board.  

The team went on a power play a few minutes later but could not convert. The play was mostly in the AB end, but sophomore goalie Sam Griswold saw some action from a hungry AB team on a few rushes down the ice. 

The second period was much the same, with CC controlling most of the offensive play with some serious attacks by AB sprinkled in. CC continued to make plays, ringing the post on an exciting power play opportunity, but AB was relentless and scored with six minutes left, tying it up 1-1.  

Lots of whistles in the opening minutes of the third period made it tough to get any flow going. About halfway through the third, Carter collected a breakout pass in the CC zone and skated through the AB defenders, finding a wide-open Will Manchuso in the high slot where he buried it past their goalie and made it 2-1 CC.  

Penalties ensued on both sides, and CC alternated from being on the advantage to being down a man. With four minutes left, AB got another penalty. Their coach called a time out and both teams drew up plans for the final minutes.  

CC’s power play was short lived, as they found themselves in the box about 15 seconds later and the teams skated 4-on-4 for about two minutes. Another time out gave Murray a chance to rest his team and plan for the final 1:30 of the game.  

As expected, AB pulled their goalie for an extra attacker and were able to keep the puck in the CC zone, testing Griswold with several shots. AB’s best chance to tie it up came with less than 45 seconds on the clock and had Griswold showing his athleticism by going post to post, robbing the attacker with a slick glove save.  

With time ticking away, the last play included every CC player on the ice and ended with Cam Daley collecting the puck from Derek Labadini inside the blue line for the insurance goal, ending the game at 3-1. Concord advanced to the final game in the Battle Road Classic. 

“We ran into a hot goalie. That happens in hockey,” Murray said. “Shots were 48-10 in our favor, so we liked the way we were playing. The message continued to be, ‘Keep playing your game, stay with it, and one will find the back of the net.’  

“To their credit, the boys didn’t get frustrated, and we were able to convert late in the third and hold on for the win,” he added. 

CC vs. Wachusett 

Concord-Carlisle’s second game pitted them against Wachusett, with both teams fresh off a win and hoping to claim the championship title.  

The first period highlighted fast skating in both directions, with goalies being tested often. Bailey stood strong in net and turned away a handful of shots early on. CC found themselves in the penalty box about eight minutes in, but they fended off an energized Wachusett team and Daley’s near-miss shorthanded chance changed the momentum for the Patriots.  

CC kept possession the next few minutes and Joe Grasso’s relentless pressure in the corner paid off when he found Manchuso and then Carter scored with four minutes remaining.  

It only took 30 seconds for CC to strike again. Cam Doull collected a nice breakout pass from Ben Ohanian and carried the puck, splitting two defenders and firing a shot into the net, making it 2-0.  

Just over a minute later, Manchuso dangled into the offensive zone and passed to Carter for the third CC goal. The next two minutes were back and forth, with Bailey making a key glove save on a 1-on-0 Wachusett rush. Just before the horn sounded, Carter skated through Wachusett’s defense and made a tape-to-tape pass to linemate Manchuso, who ended the period at 4-0. 

The second frame was challenging, with Wachusett more determined than ever to get on the board and stake their claim. Down a man early on, Bailey faced lots of shots as all the action was in front of him with CC struggling to clear the zone.  

A great glove save energized the team and the crowd, but Wachusett’s offensive pressure paid off and they scored, bringing it to 4-1. Wachusett struck again within a couple minutes, cutting CC’s lead in half.  

Trevor Bailey dug hard in front of the Wachusett net, and his tenacity resulted in a power play for his team halfway through the second with lots of scoring chances — but no goals. Near the five-minute mark, a powerful CC odd man rush resulted in Manchuso scoring off passes from Grasso and Carter, bringing it to 5-2. Wachusett answered back within a minute, keeping their team alive. Bailey backstopped another strong Wachusett bid, keeping it 5-3 at the break. 

The third period opened with Wachusett going full throttle, forcing Bailey into some acrobatic maneuvers to stop the puck in the crease. Chris Bono made a stand-up play in his end, finishing with a breakout pass up the boards for a CC attack at the other end. Chris Sim had two back-to-back shots from the point, keeping the play alive and finding Manchuso, then Grasso, then Carter for the goal.  

At 6-3 with 3:20 on the clock, the intensity heightened. The final CC surge highlighted unselfishness on Manchuso’s part — he did not take his clear shot, but instead passed to linemate Carter, whose wrister was turned away by the Wachusett goalie. Carter collected the loose puck behind the net and made a tight pass back to Manchuso in the low slot for the seventh CC goal.