The Walpole Express skated to their third straight AJHL Championship this weekend closing out another unbelievable season. Walpole found themselves in the Finals against a resilient New York Bobcats team. When the dust settled, it was the Express who came out victorious.
The Express have been in first place for two straight years and have combined a superior knack for recruiting with a propensity for developing highly skilled players. The team went 35-5-1-0 during the Regular Season and a perfect 6-0 in the Playoffs sweeping the New Jersey Rockets, Boston Bulldogs, and finally the New York Bobcats.
Walpole was led by forward Dillan Fox and veteran defenseman Jacob Brightbill who both led the team at their respective divisions. Brightbill will head to play D-I hockey at Sacred Heart University in the fall. In net was Kyle Shapiro who proved to be a reliable presence all year. Shapiro led the league in most goalie statistics and earned AJHL Goalie of the Year honors in the process.
Walpole and New York split their regular season series 2-2, but the Express had just a little too much this weekend. The Bobcats didn’t go down easy though. Both games were one goal nail biters that saw the Express defense in absolute shutdown mode fending off desperate game ending attacks.
“This was a good season for us and probably the toughest of the three championship seasons,” said Walpole Coach Tony Dalessio. “The level and players in our league keeps getting better and that was evident by the close race we had with the Cyclones to the regular season championship and in the playoffs. We played hard together, everyone contributed in so many ways and our role players really stood up especially in the playoffs and we won as a team. These guys won truly in a team effort, it wasn’t about 2 or 3 players they put team first. All 20 guys made a contribution throughout the playoffs. Kyle Shapiro had a special season. He came in and grabbed the starting job in net and was excellent right up until the final buzzer on Sunday against the Bobcats.”
Congratulations to the Walpole Express and their third straight AJHL Championship.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)