With the final seconds of the Boston City League hockey championship game at Matthews Arena winding down on Thursday morning, East Boston senior goalie Sean O’Halloran allowed his fifth goal of the day.
Five seconds later he buried his facemask into the top of his goalie pads. Almost immediately he was surrounded by his teammates as Latin Academy celebrated its ninth straight city championship at the other end of the ice.
“It made me break down even more because I know that they are always there for me, we’re still a team win or lose,” O’Halloran said after the Jets' 5-1 loss. “It’s kind of like the last time you’ll ever be playing high school, it’s kind of disappointing.
“To go out on a loss is obviously disappointing too. And to let up the late goal kills.”
O’Halloran, who has been the starter since splitting time his freshman year, said he’s never beaten Latin Academy in four years, including a loss at Fenway Park last year.
But O’Halloran has a lot to be proud of during his tenure at East Boston, sometimes making 40-60 saves per game and creating a buzz in the stands.
O’Halloran, who made about 40 saves against Latin Academy on Thursday, made about 60 the previous night in a 9-2 loss to Nashoba Valley Tech.
“He gets so much recognition from other coaches and parents,” said O’Halloran’s mother, Valarie Murphy. “I heard one of the other parents from another team say, ‘That goalie is phenomenal.’ I said, ‘Thank you very much, that’s my son and that’s really nice to hear from someone on the other team,’ and he was like, 'All the parents are talking.’ ”
O’Halloran’s task was even harder on Thursday because East Boston only had 10 players compared with Latin Academy’s 22. Two Jets went were out with a concussion, two were academically ineligible, and one couldn’t play for disciplinary reasons.
East Boston coach Robert Anthony said O’Halloran is one of the best goaltenders he’s ever had.
“Sean is up there but we didn’t have the bodies behind him,” Anthony said. “When you are skating nine or 10 players behind him it’s kind of hard.”
Latin Academy coach Robert McCormack said O’Halloran is an excellent goalie.
“He’s been playing us strong for the past few years,” he said. “And we knew we were going to run into him. He makes a strong initial save and he’s good at covering up rebounds.”
Even though East Boston finishes with a 3-13-2 record, O’Halloran was able to look at the sunny side this season.
“My uncle always tells me look at the bright side; you get a lot of shots, you’re never really going to see that if you are on a good team,” O’Halloran said. “So if you are on a bad team you can benefit from it too, just getting a lot of shots, quality shots.”
And if nothing else, deflecting all those shots is a great workout.
“Since I was a freshman I kind of got used to it,” he said. “I wasn’t really used to it before because [in] youth hockey you don’t really get anything. It’s definitely something to get used to. It is draining at times. At the end of the day I feel drained getting that many shots but it just keeps me up and gives me the will.
“I want to win every game. No matter how big of underdogs we are I still want to go out on top. I just kind of push myself.”
O'Halloran has not gotten any scholarship offers from colleges. Murphy said her son will try to walk onto a team. She said he has applied to 15 schools and been accepted to three: Southern New Hampshire, UMass-Dartmouth and Bemidji State in Minnesota.
“That’s the one he’s wanted since he was a sophomore,” Murphy said of Bemidji State.
Murphy also said she would have liked to see her son end his high school career on a high note.
“We usually lose to them just by one point,” she said. “I thought maybe we could win by one today and just give him something to remember his high school years by but unfortunately it doesn’t look like that.”
She was speaking as the clock wound down and her son was swarmed by his teammates one final time.
“I think they know he’s kind of the one who holds this team together,” she said. “He has been for the last couple years. I’m very proud to say that he’s my son.”
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