BURLINGTON, Mass. — Nearly six weeks ago, the Burlington Red Devils walked out of Burbank Arena in Reading with their heads down after being on the wrong end of a 6-1 thumping at the hands of Reading.
Since then, the Devils have gone on an 11-game unbeaten streak (8-0-3) including a methodical 2-0 shutout of the Rockets on Monday night at the Ice Palace behind a second straight shutout by senior goaltender Mike Guleserian.
“It was an important win for our kids because they handled us very easily back in December,” Burlington coach Bob Conceison said. “I think it was important to have a good performance tonight and I thought we played a real good all-around game and I thought Mike (Guleserian) was tremendous.”
Senior captain Joey Scali scored the game’s first goal late in the first period when he buried the rebound of a Josh Boulos point shot past Reading goalie, Ian Lapham.
Scali, who went without a goal in the first seven games of the season, would also set up the Devil’s second goal.
He cruised into the offensive zone down the right wing board and sent a cross ice pass to Robby McLean who ripped a slap shot inside the left post from a tough angle below the left face-off circle to give Burlington a cushion with 8:22 left in the game.
“I thought this was a big win for us,” said Scali. “I have really meshed with my line mates over the last few games. We got to keep it going. We have a big stretch of games coming up.”
After mustering just three first period shots, the Rockets turned up the pressure in the second and third periods but could not solve Guleserian (20 saves) who continues to provide the Devils a solid backstop.
Rockets sputtering: The Rockets are on a streak of their own but headed in the wrong direction, as the loss put the always respected Rockets at 0-5-2 over their last seven games and 6-7-2 overall.
Make no mistake about it, the Rockets play one of the toughest schedules in the state for a public school team but their recent lack of punch has coach Mark Doherty looking for answers.
“We are getting chances but are just not finishing,” said Doherty. “Their goalie was strong tonight and they are always tough in their barn. I thought we had a good amount of chances but we just need to keep working at it.”
The Rockets have seven games to turn things around and will be a real tough out should they land in the Division I North tournament.
Line of defense: While Guleserian continues his strong season, the Red Devils four defensemen have provided little breathing room for opponents.
Having two shutdown pairs of defensemen is a luxury for coach Bob Conceison.
Senior captain Adam Crowley is paired with sophomore Shane O’Halloran while junior Mike Bibbey and sophomore Josh Boulos provide a second shut down pairing. They were all part of last year’s Division I state champions and their experience has stabilized the Devils defensive zone.
The numbers bear out the impressive results as Burlington is allowing just 1.6 goals per game and have allowed opponents to score three or more goals just twice this season.
“They have been so good in front of me,” said Guleserian. “They make my job a whole lot easier back there and I am lucky to have those guys playing in front of me.”