D2/D3 Final 4: Marblehead and Tewksbury Punch Tickets to TD Garden

Stoneham, MA – We have reached the Final Four round of the MIAA Tournament and MassNZ was in the house for a doubleheader of D3 and D2 hockey. To start us off was a D3 Semifinal as the second-seeded Shawsheen Rams facing off against the six-seeded Marblehead Headers. Both teams were collectively one game away from the Championship at the TD Garden and both teams had massive student sections in the house to support them in tonight’s game. The parking lots were filled to capacity as were the stands and there was a buzz pregame as both sets of fans were amped up and ready to go.

In the early minutes of the first period both teams looked to set a physical tone and delivered hard early hits on the forecheck and across the neutral zone. For the most part the referees let them play on but this game was destined to be one where neither team would allow any soft goals. Both teams utilized their size and shut down odd-man chances but also kept attackers out of Grade A ice as the play circled the zone. Both teams have some wheels but were unable to get going in open ice for that exact reason. The ice would eventually be broken by Marblehead on the man advantage. Just a few seconds into the power play a scrum ensued in front of the net and pouncing on the loose puck on the fourth attempt was junior forward Kyle Hart to make it 1-0 Headers. The Rams came back hard to regain possession and created some consistent zone time in response but were unable to pot one. On we went to the second.

In the middle frame, things started off gangbusters for Shawsheen as a well-executed set play led to the tying goal. Sophomore defender Jake Banda threw a shot on net and in front to tip it was senior captain Liam Milne. We were all knotted at 1-1 just 23 seconds into the period. Shawsheen used this momentum to their advantage early and created a few more exciting chances, but they were unable to solve junior netminder Leo Burdge. As the period wore on, the momentum clearly shifted to the Headers who stepped up their forecheck and neutral zone defense which largely shut down what Shawsheen was trying to create. Most of the second half of the period was spent in the Shawsheen defensive zone and senior Mike Cedrone stood tall making several puck tracking saves. He couldn’t quite get to every shot, however. Late in the period with about two minutes left senior captain Hogan Sedky delivered a lead pass up ice to a streaking sophomore forward London McDonald who cruised in on the breakaway and buried it top shelf to give the Headers the 2-1 lead. That would be our score heading into the intermission.

In the third period, it was crunch time for Shawsheen and they worked hard to maintain possession and get pucks deep. They had 1:40 of power play time to start the period but were unable to convert. They created more scoring chances in the third than they had all game but Marblehead was able to limit many of those chances to one and done by clearing the puck out quickly. As the period wore on, Marblehead clamped down hard in the neutral zone, taking away the stretch pass and exiting the defensive zone with speed. As the period got down to the final minutes, Shawsheen still trailed, but things started to get interesting. With 4:21 left Shawsheen drew a penalty and this would be their best chance to tie things up, but Marblehead showed great poise to stay in shot lanes and killed it. Shortly after, the Headers called their timeout with 2:02 left to get a breather and back they went 5-on-5. With 1:40 to go Shawsheen pulled Cedrone and the chaos began. A sparkling scoring chance went for not as sophomore defender Toby Grenier dove across the crease to save a sure goal and then while Burdge was down in his crease, the net was raised off it’s moorings by another Marblehead player which led to a delay of game power play for Shawsheen. Shortly after the power play began, the Rams pulled their goalie again and a shooting gallery ensured. Shawsheen had two Grade A chances and the puck hit a series of bodies and would not go in. The Rams called timeout with 16.4 seconds left and had a couple of additional looks, but both were turned away and the Headers survived, punching their ticket to the TD Garden with a 2-1 win. They would face tomorrow’s winner between and Nauset and Somerset Berkley.

Three Stars:

  1. F London McDonald, Marblehead
  2. G Leo Burdge, Marblehead
  3. G Mike Cedrone, Shawsheen

D2 Final Four: Tewksbury vs Woburn

Stoneham, MA – MassNZ stuck around for the second half of the doubleheader as the top-seeded D2 team, the Tewksbury Redmen took on the fourth-seeded Woburn Tanners to see who would advance to the D2 Championship Game at TD Garden. The Redmen sought to avenge last year’s early exit and get back to the Garden for the second time in three years whereas this would be Woburn’s first trip at the D2 level. The building was once again packed with students and townsfolk of all ages. The Woburn students were dressed in all black whereas the Tewksbury students were wearing all construction high visibility colors. The buzz was building, it was time for more hockey.

In the first period, it was physical, fast and aggressive on both sides. Both teams were making decisions with pace and looking to take advantage of transition offense. Neither team was backing down and both set a heavy tone early. It was decidedly even in the first five minutes before a flurry of goal-scoring ensued. Five minutes in, a nice feed by senior forward Matthew Cooke landed on the stick of sophomore forward Tyler Bourgea who fired a shot straight down the royal road to make it 1-0 Redmen. Tewksbury would seize on that momentum with another goal on the very next shift as senior Jeremy Insogna worked a pretty give-and-go with Cooke who buried cutting through the middle to make it 2-0. Woburn needed a response and sure enough, they would get it a minute later. They earned a power play and early into the man advantage, a slick feed from behind the net by junior Jack Lee found the stick of sophomore Avery Powers to cut the lead in half. It stayed that way for the next six minutes as both teams were battling for the next goal and creating chances with transition speed. With three minutes remaining, the Tanners would tie it. A slick outlet pass by senior Hayden LaPrade found junior forward Niko Tortola who buried on the breakaway to tie us back up at 2-2. That’s how the first would end with both teams making their pushes but getting back to an even score.

In the second period, it was much of the same story with both teams going all out and aggressively pushing pucks to space looking to create odd-man chances. We didn’t have to wait long for another goal as Tewksbury would take the lead three minutes in. Bourgea dished the puck from behind the net to Insogna who buried a one-timer to make it 3-2 Redmen. Three minutes later, Woburn would find the equalizer with a nice 2-on-1 rush and a late pass from sophomore Luke Hughes to fellow sophomore Dillon Scallese ended up in the back of the net: we were all tied 3-3. For the balance of the period it would stay that way as each team had sustained zone time but neither was able to break the tie. On we went to third to determine who would head to the Garden next weekend.

In the third period, we got off to a fast start as Woburn would strike first one minute in. It was Powers who threw a puck out front that caromed right to the stick of junior forward Finn Murphy to make it 4-3 Tanners. Woburn fed off that momentum early and were able to maintain that lead for a short time, but Tewksbury got the puck deep and were able to tie it four minutes later as an unmarked senior Peter Civitarese flipped the puck upstairs from close range to tie us again at 4-4. From here, Tewksbury slowly began to tilt the ice in their favor, especially with some strong play along the boards and some active sticks in the defensive zone. Just over three and a half minutes later, Tewksbury would go back up for good as junior Jason Lavoie caught a nice pass from Tyler Barnes and fired it home from between the dots to make it 5-4. Just over six minutes were remaining and Woburn put in the work to create some momentum with a couple of quick shots, but they were limited on the rebound. The clock continued to run and eventually, Woburn would call timeout with 58.5 seconds to go. They would then pull the goalie with 40 seconds left. They were not able to get set in the attacking zone and Tewksbury would pounce as Bourgea would fire it home from just past the red line to give us a 6-4 final score. Tewksbury’s fan section went bonkers and the coaching staff took their timeout to calm his team down. Shortly after, Woburn pulled their goalie once more, but it was largely academic as the Redmen advanced to the TD Garden on Sunday, March 17. They will face either Duxbury or Boston Latin based on tomorrow’s game at Gallo Arena.

Three Stars:

  1. F Jason Lavoie, Tewksbury
  2. F Matt Cooke, Tewksbury
  3. F Avery Powers, Woburn