Friday, May 8, 2015

Postgame Blog: Algonquin Slips Past Shrewsbury in Overtime… Again

Algonquin sophomore attack Zach Skowronek looks for room against Shrewsbury senior pole Tim Hally.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

It was another game between old rivals Algonquin and Shrewsbury with league title and tournament ramifications, so naturally the Tomahawks and Colonials played another classic.

The Mid-Wach A rivals played a 5-4 thriller earlier this season that ended when Algonquin senior Alex Sabel threw home the OT winner, but this time Sabel would settle for only the game winning assist. His dodge right and pass back to center set up classmate Paul Luongo's golden goal, and gave the T-Hawks sole possession of first place in the league.

Here is your reminder that this blog is just my rambling thoughts on yesterday's game. If you'd like a full recap, with some pictures I grabbed before my camera decided to call it quits, head on over to the new and improved BostonLaxNet to check it out.

Anyways, onward to the blog.

Martens Controls the X

Algonquin junior middie Mike Martens lived up to his reputation as top face-off guy in Central Mass, going a perfect 10/10 on the draw against Shrewsbury. After the game Shrewsbury coach Nate Skermont compare playing against Martens to a game of pickup basketball, saying that every time the T-Hawks scored it became "make it, take it," where they simply get possession right back.

The Colonials were just hoping to score themselves and make it loser's ball out. While Martens did win every face-off, Shrewsbury succeeded in limiting the damage, preventing breakaways off the draw and forcing Algonquin to slow down and run their offense. Obviously, it was a physical, defensive day for both sides, and those extra possessions the Tomahawks received from Martens may have proved to be the difference in an incredibly close game.

Colton the King

Another Tomahawk that may be the best in the region at what he does is junior goalie Colton King. It was just another day at the office for King, who has been a wall against the likes of Westboro and Hingham in recent weeks. The Sacred Heart commit stopped 12 shots, including four from point blank range in the second half, to keep the T-Hawks ahead.

Algonquin has one of the best sets of poles in the region, led by seniors Stu Bleck and Paul Nardone and sophomore Justin Leva, but it's got to give everybody on the team some peace of mind that they have such a tremendous player between the pipes as their last line of defense.

There are some other great goalies in the region this year- Grafton's Cadrin Msumba, Worcester's Sean Moran, Nashoba's Robbie Atwood, St. John's Hunter Gaither, etc- but King may just be the best.

Rothera Coming Into His Own

But let's not forget about the guy he was battling Thursday, as Rothera basically played a game of "anything you can do" with King, stopping a number of Algonquin scoring chances and making 10 saves himself.

Like King, who had to step in for a great goalie in Giles Ober last year, Rothera had some big shoes to fill this season. The Colonials graduated goalie Chris Gorman, easily the best keeper in program history, and one of the best players period to ever suit up for Shrewsbury.

Rothera's response? He's only led the Mid-Wach in goals against average and helped Shrewsbury again lead Division 2 Central Mass teams in goals allowed. All the goalies I mentioned above are great, and most are multi-year starters, but Rothera should take a backseat to none of them. He's that good.

Mid-Wach and Tournament Ramifications

The win doesn't quite lock up Mid-Wach A for Algonquin, but it does give the T-Hawks the inside track to a league title. At 6-1 in the league, Algonquin holds a half-game lead over Shrewsbury (6-2), and a full two game lead over Westboro (4-3). With three league games remaining against Groton-Dunstable, Wachusett and Westboro, Algonquin controls its own destiny, especially when you consider that Thursday's win also gave the Tomahawks a season sweep of Shrewsbury, and thus, the tie-breaker.

Shrewsbury, meanwhile, has just two league games left, and they are big ones. Westboro will travel to face the Colonials next Tuesday in a game that could determine second place in the league. Then, Shrewsbury travels to face dangerous Nashoba next Thursday. The Chieftains are coming off a win over Algonquin and tight loss to Westboro. It's tough to get a feel for either Nashoba or Westboro, but both have shown a scoring punch and each can possess the ball.

As I've said all year, Mid-Wach A is brutal this season.

Looking ahead to the tournament, both Algonquin and Shrewsbury have qualified and will play in the Division 2 Central/West bracket. Looking at just the Central Mass teams, St. John's would appear to be the other squad fighting for a high seed, making May 20th's St. John's at Algonquin game a huge one. Out west you've always got to be on the lookout for Longmeadow, but last season's upstart, Westfield, looks to be as good as ever this season.

Algonquin, Shrewsbury and St. John's have all already defeated Western Mass staple Minnechaug, and the Pioneers will get a shot at South Hadley as well to end the season. It's all about tournament seeding right now, and it appears the T-Hawks, Colonials and Pioneers are all in great position to grab Top-5 seeds.


Anonymous said...

King, Atwood, Msumba, Rothera. Top 4 in Cmass in that order

Anonymous said...
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