Sunday, March 19, 2017

Shrewsbury Tops Old Rochester for Boys' D3 Hockey Crown

Photo from Shrewsbury hockey on Twitter, @ShrewsburyPuck

By Nick Beaudoin (@beaudoin91_)

BOSTON - Today’s Division 3 MIAA State Hockey Championship featured a matchup of two teams with a ton of firepower in the Colonials of Shrewsbury and the Bulldogs of Old Rochester/Fairhaven.

What a thriller it was.

Coming into today’s Championship Sunday contest, the Colonials sat at an undefeated mark of 23-0-1 while Old Rochester was 24-3. Today is a day every young hockey player dreams about reaching, as both teams have traveled to the TD Garden in Boston to battle for the right to call themselves state champions.

Today would be the Colonials' day, however, as Shrewsbury took home the D3 title by a final score of 3-1.

The opening draw was won by Shrewsbury, and it took control to start the game. Both teams looked calm and composed and the first lines were something to watch. Matty Ward had one of the period's best chances, off a nice feed from Liam Quinlivan in the corner, but it was denied by Chase Cunningham. Noah Strawn of Old Rochester had a nice chance of his own coming down the right-wing side on Joe Walton, but the shot was denied by Shrewsbury’s Pat Shaughnessy. The first period ended in a steady draw as both goaltenders saw a fair amount of shots, but stopped them all. Still, Shrewsbury seemed to have the momentum entering the second.

Boy was the second period all Shrewsbury.

The first line for the Colonials opened the period with a head full of steam, as Liam Quinlivan set up James Abbott’s shot that left a juicy rebound with traffic in front for Matty Ward and Anthony Quinlivan to scrap at. Chase Cunningham, however, kept the puck out keeping the score knotted at 0-0. A turnover in the neutral zone left Liam Quinlivan on a break-a-way shortly after and he made a great forehand to backhand move and put the puck through Cunningham’s five hole. The building erupted for the game’s first goal, and the Colonial faithful rose to their feet.

It was all Shrewsbury from there.

After Tyler Borys took a hooking penalty at the 11:35 mark of the second period, Old Rochester coach Eric Labonte used his timeout to set something up for his power play. This was a great chance for the Bulldogs to jump out and tie the game. They had a calm power play with lots of puck movement for the first minute, but the Liam Quinlivan sparked a shorthanded break and got his own rebound, but yet again Cunningham shut the door. Shrewsbury continued to dump and chase and beat the Bulldogs to loose pucks.

Tyler Borys got to Cunningham again off a rebound chance in the slot to make it 2-0 Colonials mid-way through the second. They cycled well and their top two lines had ample scoring chances off back door feeds left and right. Old Rochester wouldn’t slow down as their seniors continued to keep fighting. Shrewsbury’s Joe Walton contributed to a nice rush of his own from the back end and set up a lot for the Colonials in the offensive zone. Great play from Pat Shaughnessy to end the period kept the Colonials ahead in the game. They found themselves one period away from their second state title in four years.

The third period started hot, as great puck movement again from the top line of the Colonials gave Matty Ward his second career goal here at the Garden and the first of the game. The fans were in it after that one as a cross ice celebration seemed to get the fans going. Sam Henrie came right back and scored for Old Rochester beating Shaughnessy high blocker.

This started what was a great third period. Shaughnessy had huge saves in the third that kept the Colonials in front. He seemed determined to not let another one in. After a timeout by Shrewsbury at the 12:47 mark in the third, you could sense a more focuses and fresh Shrewsbury squad. They were hitting the Bulldogs all over the ice and stealing pucks as well. The period closed out just how Shrewsbury wanted, in winning fashion. They finished the season 24-0-1 and became the 18th team to finish undefeated in a single season.

“(The win is) an unbelievable feeling," Ward said. "I can’t really put it into words. To go out on top, there’s nothing better.”

The senior captain finishes his career with 2 goals at the Garden and 2 state titles. One of the younger players on the team, Tyler Borys, played a huge role this season and scored what was ultimately the game-winning goal.

“The puck was bouncing around out in front of the net, and the first thing I thought to do was put it in the back of the net instead of passing it” Borys said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to win.”

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