The Boys Hockey team’s bid to return to the Garden to play in the state championship game ended Sunday, when Norwell beat Hanover 5-1 in the South Sectional Final at Gallo Arena. Norwell moves on to the Emass Championship March 11 against Watertown. The winner of that game heads to the title game.
The score was deceiving as Norwell isn’t four goals better than Hanover, but at times Sunday they certainly looked it. The Clippers came into the game having beaten Hanover 4-2 very early in the year. They just lost their best player, Senior Captain and SSL League MVP Dave Talanian, to a broken leg in their semi-final against Cohasset. But their youth didn’t hurt them as they consistently kept Hanover at bay offensively while putting on good pressure down the other end. Norwell scored first but Hanover was able to strike back. Tom Martin got the puck on the wing in his own zone and threw a beauty of a two-line pass to lead Ernie Meads into the Norwell zone where he went top corner with it. The elation was short lived as Norwell scored 45 seconds later. They put a shot on Clapp and there was a huge scrum in front of the net, bodies went down and everyone was taking pokes on net. Alex Ferguson came away with the puck and put it away.
Hanover had its chances though. They would get 5:30 of power play time in the span of about 5 minutes and 45 seconds and failed to capitalize. A Norwell defenseman got a 4 Minute Major for Boarding after he launched Landon Hasenfuss into the boards with a cheap hit from behind. As someone who is certainly not a hockey expert but knows the game, there is no question in my mind he should have been tossed. Hassenfuss was pretty shaken up on the play but would return to the game. After four minutes of the power play without anything to show for it, Norwell would do Hanover another favor and pick up another penalty. The Indians were again unable to capitalize and Norwell would score before the end of the period. The 3rd period was all Norwell but Hanover fought until the end.
Reaching the South Sectional Final is an impressive feat, but this year’s team had already tasted more and was striving for the state title. It’s funny how things worked for them this year. Last year’s team had more talent but they struggled in the regular season, including a patch of five straight losses. But they turned it on in the postseason and earned a deserved spot in the state championship against Shrewsbury. Comparatively, the cupboard wasn’t bare this year but it seemed there was a drop off in talent after losing several excellent seniors and two sophomores who were very good. But this Indians squad dominated in the regular season, they had very few losses, won their league and beat top 25 Duxbury. They just didn’t have the horses to reach the Garden. While they could have beaten Norwell on Sunday, Norwell looked like the better team.
The Hockey team still provided four of the best student experiences at HHS: tournament games at Gallo. The rink itself is great, the overwhelming student support and enthusiasm is what makes it great. It’s an incredible atmosphere.
Their season is over and the team may be dissatisfied right now, but when they look back at this year they should be proud. A Patriot League Championship is an impressive feat. Landon Hasenfuss won League MVP and he, along with Tom Martin and Noah Clapp, were named league all stars. Trevor Doucette had a great season as the first line center and wore the Matheny jersey well. Along with Martin and Hasenfuss, Alex Wisnes, Ernie Meads and Connor Morris were all very potent forwards for the team. Seniors Alex O’Dowd and Joe Maguire as well as Junior Dan McDougall (who made his return to puck after 2 years of being a sharpshooter in the basketball program) led the team’s grinder line and put in the hard work. The fourth line of Ryan Mahoney, Zach Taylor, and Ryan Phillips really came along as the season went on. All of them were underclassmen and will be back to contribute.
On the back end, Tyler Powers, who was the third line center on last year’s Garden run, moved back to the top D pairing. He brought great quickness, toughness, and puck-moving ability back with him. He was paired with Shane Fallon who made big hits and launched rockets from the blue and back all year long. The second D pair was a little smaller and quicker. Mike McGlame, arguably the team’s top defenseman, was great all around with strong offensive and defensive skill sets. His partner, Freshman Paul McCabe, was small but quick and never afraid the throw the body around at bigger opponents. Drew Cratty and Christian Sarruda made up the last D pairing. Sarruda was the big and tough defender with the hard shot, and Cratty was the smaller with puck-moving skills and agility on the ice. Behind them was a stud pairing of goalies. Noah Clapp was back between the pipes and was phenomenal all year, hence his All Star selection. But behind him was Drew Zwart, who saw less ice time but was stellar when in there. He had a .949 save percentage on the year. Senior Forwards Chase Coogan, Mike Martino and Junior Scotty O’Brien made up the team’s fifth line. Junior Reese Fallon and Freshman Jason Galotti were on varsity as extra defensemen. While they didn’t see that much ice time, all five of them were integral to the team’s success.
It might not have ended how or where they wanted, but the Indians should be proud of their season and the Seniors should be proud of their careers. Like I’ve said so many times already, and I mean it every time, despite losing a great senior class, there is a lot of talent coming back and the future for boys hockey is bright.