ARLINGTON 4, HINGHAM 2
At this time, an immediate return for the Super Eight seems unlikely, at least for the foreseeable future.
However, one benefit of the new statewide tournament format that has become increasingly clear in recent months is that it creates matchups of similar caliber in the playoffs, particularly towards the end.
On Saturday, two public hockey programs that were perennially in the Super Eight discussion met in the Div. 1 quarterfinals, and you could hardly tell the difference.
With the trip to the state semifinals hanging in the balance, it was Drew Fecteau who delivered the heroics for Arlington. The junior sniped the clinching goal with 2:31 left in regulation, as the sixth-seeded Spy Ponders stunned No. 3 Hingham with an unforgettable 4-2 victory at Gallo Arena.
“We’re down to the eight, and you can see the change in pace,” said Arlington hockey coach John Messuri. “We just have so much respect for Hingham and Coach Messina. They do such a great job and they’re kind of on the South Shore doing it. We’re kind of on the North Shore doing it. The programs are almost twins that are separated. So, the game could have gone either way.”
Neither team had any offensive success early. That was until Hingham was called for a tripping violation with 4:52 to play in the second period. The Spy Ponders capitalized on the ensuing power play, as Jack Sadowski recorded a goal to give Arlington a 1-0 edge.
The Spy Ponders were assessed a minor penalty of their own with 2:43 left in the period, and Hingham answered immediately. Ryan Burns fired a bullet into the cage seven seconds later, tying things at 1-all.
Later on in the third period, Sadowski potted his second power play goal of the night, as Arlington jumped back in front at 2-1 with 10:18 left in regulation.
But penalties proved costly for both teams all night long, and the Spy Ponders surrendered one more power play goal before the night concluded, as Aidan Brazel collected a loose puck and tapped it across the goal line to tie the game at 2-2 with 8:18 to play.
Desperately searching for a winning tally late, Jake Russell fired a rocket off the pads of Hingham goaltender Luke Merian. But the attempt ricocheted right over to a swooping Fecteau, who completed the stunning play, while sending a raucous crowd into a frenzy.
“This is a team effort,” Fecteau said afterward. “It just happened to be me today. It feels great though.”
Reid Malatesta (goal, two assists) finished things with an open-net tally to cap the night for Arlington (19-4).
The Spy Ponders must now prepare themselves for another daunting task, as they will take on No. 2 Xaverian next, with a chance to play in the state championship on the line.
HANOVER 2, MEDWAY 1
If any program had reason to be somewhat skeptical of the recent realignment of MIAA divisions, Hanover’s boys hockey team certainly had a case. After dominating the Div. 3 landscape for the better part of the last decade, multiple title contenders dropped into their field, presenting a series of new obstacles for the Hawks.
Rather than making excuses however, Max DaSilva and his teammates simply used the challenge as a newfound form of motivation, which has driven them right back to the doorstep of a state crown.
The senior potted the eventual game-winning goal in the second period Saturday, as the third-seeded Hawks rallied past No. 6 Medway for a 2-1 victory in the quarterfinals.
Hanover (16-7) found itself in an early 1-0 hole midway through the opening period. However, the Hawks didn’t trail for too long, as Nate Patch sniped the back of the cage to even the score at 1-all with 4:27 to play in the stanza.
“It’s not often that we’re down a goal to start the game,” said Hanover coach Jonny Abban. “It’s good to see them fight through it. Proud of the kids. We came today, to live for another day against Scituate.”
Oftentimes, executing a successful forecheck pays off. DaSilva showed fans exactly why with 3:51 to play in the second period, as he forced a turnover in the Mustangs’ end, then deked his way around goaltender Evan Monaghan for a stunning goal to put Hanover ahead for good.
As Abban mentioned, Hanover will now have the unique opportunity to play longtime Patriot League rival Scituate in the Div. 3 semifinals under the new tournament format. The programs split their two previous matches during the regular season.
“It’s going to be crazy,” said DaSilva. “This going to be like a prime time playoff game. We’re rivals, it’s always a big atmosphere. It’s just going to be a high-intensity game. I can’t wait.”
High School Sports, Sports, Arlington boys hockey, High school hockey