March 15, 2011

Underdog Wakefield, powerhouse St. John's keep rolling

By Jesse Connolly

New England Hockey Journal takes you around the state to get a snapshot of each of the Massachusetts high school tournaments, by division, now that sectional play has wrapped up and teams are moving on in hopes of capturing their respective state championships.

SUPER 8 St. John's senior Andrew Pierce congratules goalie David Letarte after a 5-1 win over Needham. (Dave Arnold Photography)

Sparked by a goal from senior Colin Blackwell just 10 seconds into the contest, St. John's prep tallied four times in the first period, running away with a 6-1 victory over BC High to claim the top spot in Bracket 2.

With the win, St. John's avoided having to play Malden Catholic, the clear-cut favorite in this year's tournament. Malden Catholic had a close call in the third and final round of bracket play, narrowly beating Weymouth, 5-4. Because of Weymouth's strong effort, it edged out Central Catholic -- which fell 2-1 to Hingham in their final game of round-robin play -- for the No. 2 spot in Bracket 1.

The four teams will be back in action on Wednesday night, with St. John’s and Weymouth kicking off at 5:35 p.m. and the Malden Catholic vs. BC High game starting at 8:05 p.m. The winners will move on to the championship at TD Garden on Sunday.

DIVISION 1 NORTH

Led by a hat trick from sophomore forward Kyle Leone, Wakefield will be headed to the Division 1 final after defeating St. Mary's of Lynn 4-3.

Leone had a shorthanded tally and also buried the game-winning goal in the third period for the Warriors, while junior netminder Joseph Cerulo made 32 stops as Wakefieldwas outshot 35-17 in the contest.

Cerulo and company will be in for a tough test in the championship, where they'll take on Marshfield.

DIVISION 1 SOUTH

Marshfield punched its ticket to the Division 1 finals with a 4-1 win over Springfield Cathedral.

Jimmy Connors scored twice in the game, as the Rams were off and running thanks to tally from sophomore Mike Carbone just 5:47 into the contest.

Cathedral's starter, Zac Rondeau, got the gate after allowing all four tallies. Down the other end of the ice, Marshfield's Kyle Moran stopped 20-of-21 shots to earn the victory.

DIVISION 2 NORTH

Tewksburyis headed to its first state hockey championship since 1995-96 after beating Saugus 3-1 in the Division 2 North final.

The two squads entered the third period knotted at one apiece, but the Redmen came out firing on all cylinders, outshooting the Sachems 19-2 over the final 20 minutes of play.

Mike Kotowski buried the game-winner with less than three minutes left to go.

Tewksbury got strong goaltending once again from Niko Cunha, as the Redmen have allowed just three goals in three tournament games.

DIVISION 2 SOUTH

After narrowly squeaking by Oliver Ames in the semis, Franklin beat up on Plymouth South by the score of 5-2 in the Division 2 South finals.

James Marchand tallied twice for Franklin, which will look to capture its first state championship since 1983 with a win over Tewksbury at TD Garden.

DIVISION 3 NORTH-SOUTH

In a battle between the top two seeds in the tournament, No. 2 Marblehead knocked off Shawsheen 6-2 to move onto the state semifinals.

The Magicians captured their third title in four years with the win and have now won 11 in a row heading into the state semis. Their last loss came back on Jan. 26.

With a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over Westwood, Pembroke captured the Division 3 South title and will move on to play Marblehead in the state semis.

Pembroke entered the tournament as just the 11th seed, as they defeated many a favorite along the way.

DIVISION 3 CENTRAL-WEST

The winner of the Marblehead-Pembroke game will take on whoever is victorious in the other Division 3 state semifinal game between Hudson and Westfield.

Hudson captured the Central title over the weekend, dispatching Wachusett by a score of 5-2. In their two sectional games, Hudson beat up on their opponents by a combined score of 15-5.

Westfield took down the West title with a 2-1 overtime win over Longmeadow.

DIVISION 3A STATE TOURNAMENT

Having already wrapped up sectional play, Central champ Groton-Dunstable and West representative Holyoke squared off for the Division 3A state title.

Holyoke tallied twice in the opening frame, as the Purple Knights took home their second state crown in three seasons with a 3-0 victory. Holyokefreshman goalie Devon Hoagland shutout the Crusaders with 22 stops.

WOMEN'S DIVISION 1

After snapping St. Mary's 100-game win streak, Hingham defeated Winthrop/Lynn with a thrilling 4-3 shootout win to move on the state championship game.

The Harbormen had to overcome sensation goaltending from Bulldogs netminder Katie Burt, who made 38 saves in the losing effort. After a scoreless overtime, Catherine Chittick, Jane Freda and Victoria Gong came through in the shootout to catapult Hingham to victory.

The only team standing in their way of a championship will be Acton-Boxboro, the No. 3 seed entering the tournament, which dispatched No. 2 Woburn 2-1 in its semifinal match.

Acton-Boxboro has allowed just three goals in their first three games of tournament play, but it will have its hands full with Hingham's high-powered offense when the two teams meet on Sunday at TD Garden.

WOMEN'S DIVISION 2

Thanks to a 3-2 overtime victory over top-seeded Norwood, Fontbonne Academy has punched its ticket to the state final in Division 2. Ironically, the school reached the semifinals by dispatching Walpolewith a 3-2 OT win.

They'll battle for the state title with Duxbury, who took care of Concord-Carlisle in convincing fashion with a 4-0 victory.

Forwards Zoe Griffin and Lily Connolly tallied 20 seconds apart for the Green Dragons, who finished the first period with a 2-0 edge. Despite being called for eight penalties on the night, Duxbury's penalty kill refused to budge.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com.