“There were times I didn’t know if we’d make the playoffs,” Buchanan said.
But like brothers who can be at each other’s throats one minute but sticking up for one another the next, these Falcons always knew there was one word that best described them: family. Sure, things weren’t always smooth, but they stayed true to each other and rode out the rough patches together.
A strong 3-2 win over Triton in its regular season finale seemed to revitalize the club, and an easy first round playoff win (9-1 over Somerville) paved the way to a 4-3 upset over top-ranked Beverly in the North quarterfinals. From there, the Falcons kept flying and dispatched Concord-Carlisle, 5-3, before running into the buzzsaw that is Wilmington last night.
Seven seniors will no longer lace up the blades under the Danvers banner: defensemen Kevin Anderson and Shea Doyle, and forwards Adam Merry, Ben Wallace, Couto, Buchanan and Strangie. Throw in team manager Dan McKenna, who was as much a part of this team as anyone else, and that’s eight seniors who’ll be tough to replace.
“I’m proud to say I played with those guys the last three years,” said junior captain Kevin Hodgkins. “All those guys led us through the tough times we had and were great leaders.
Truth be told, Danvers’ best effort maybe could have beaten the Wildcats once in 10 tries. The defending Division 2 state champions are deep, full of skill and — at this level, anyway — immensely fast. They constantly pressured the Falcons in the defensive zone, passing the puck to spaces rather than to actual people to create odd-man rushes, and seemed to anticipate on-ice happenings seconds before they actually occurred.
“I’ve never seen a team as talented as that work as hard as they do,” admitted Strangie.