METHUEN — It was just over three years and more than 70 goals ago, but for Methuen’s Matt Bauchman, nothing quite compares to the first time he lit the lamp at the varsity level.
“It was my first game and it was at my home rink,” he said with a smile. “I split the defense, and put it top corner right over the goalie. I could never forget my first goal.”
That tremendous effort was the first of many highlight-reel moments for the Ranger senior, who in Methuen’s most recent contest scored goal No. 72 of his prolific career on Ranger Road.
With another standout campaign this season, Bauchman will make history — becoming the first four-time Eagle-Tribune hockey All-Star since Andover’s Chris Cullen in 1993-96.
“Matt has played fantastic hockey for us,” said Rangers coach Denny Egan. “You could see early on that he had the kinds of instincts that most players don’t have, and could do things most can’t do. Whether it’s even strength, the power play or short-handed, Matt is our go-to guy.”
That all while proudly spurning the junior or prep hockey route so many high school standouts take to remain with his hometown school through good and bad.
“I’ve been approached more than a few times,” he said. “I have considered it, but not playing at Methuen High, at the rink I grew up playing at, just didn’t feel right. I wanted to stay with my buddies and worry about the next step once I finish here.”
Finding the back of the net was second-nature for Bauchman — who has led Methuen in scoring in each of his high school seasons — from the moment he stepped onto the ice at age 5.
“Believe it or not, I think I have been my team’s leader in goals every year I have played hockey,” he said. “One Pee Wee season I had 72 goals in about 45 games.”