Simply making the playoffs was a foregone conclusion in Danvers at the turn of the century; the Falcons had qualified in each of the previous 12 seasons. That alone wouldn’t satiate these Falcons; they knew they had all of the elements needed to make a run at a state title in 2001.
By and large it was a young, exhuberant team. Only five seniors — all-star defenseman Nick McCormick, forward Derek Richardson and the team’s three captains, right wing Matty Valentine, blueliner Adam O’Keefe and the ever-talkative Bevan in goal — donned the Falcon crest. Seven juniors helped beef up the squad while the sophomore class, with nine players, were the best represented; five saw regular action.
“All we thought about was winning,” said McCullough, who went on to a stellar college career at UMass Dartmouth and played professionally for four seasons. “For me personally, it was the tightest group I’ve ever been around.”
McCullough teamed with fellow junior Bryan Duggan, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound wrecking ball of a left wing, and highly skilled sophomore speedster Ryan Hayes to form one of the North Shore’s best-ever top lines in modern history. They wound up accounting for over 62 percent of Danvers’ 114 goals, and by the time their high school careers were over they ranked second (Hayes, 160), third (McCullough, 151) and sixth (Duggan, 142) on the school’s all-time scoring list.
“It was more of a read-and-react situation with Bryan and Ryan,” said McCullough, who recently moved back to Danvers with his wife, Jordan, after spending a few years in Brooklyn. “They were big and good along the walls, and we were all good defensively. We could all shoot, we could all score and we all saw the ice well. Bryan brought some nastiness to our line, too, and me and Hayesy could finish.”