Thursday, December 28, 2017

St. Mary's (Lynn) Edges Hingham in Shootout for Serino Classic Crown

By John McGuirk (@patsfan1313)

Malden, Mass.
- Mark Lee knows a good thing when he sees it.

The 31-year St. Mary's (Lynn) hockey coach saw plenty over the past 24 hours to have him believing that his Spartans have the necessary weaponry to make a solid run at a second straight state championship.

St. Mary's relied heavily on a suffocating defense and a hot goaltender to claim a 2-1 shootout win over Hingham in Thursday night's championship game of the Christie Serino Christmas Classic held at Valley Forum II. The victory comes fresh off the heels of the Spartans' 3-2 triumph over Austin Prep during Wednesday's opening round tilt.

Against the Harbormen, the defending Division 1 state champs stuck to a system of not allowing any easy chances. The objective was to make Hingham earn every shot it took.

For much of the contest, St. Mary's packed itself deep inside the defensive zone to stop any second shot opportunities. A number of Hingham attempts on net came from its defensemen out along the perimeter which Spartans goalie Kevin McMullen, named tournament MVP,  was able to snag with relative ease. The senior finished with 24 saves, and did not allow a shot to get by him during the four man shootout.

"Our defense, and our whole team for that matter, really stepped up," said McMullen. "We did the best we could and ended up coming out with a win. We stuck to our plan tonight and everyone was ready to go and we were able to clutch it out in the shootout."

The Spartans (2-1-3) got scores from eighth-grader Davis Kinne and freshman Brady Carpenter in the shootout to pull out the victory.

"This is one of the youngest teams we have had here in a few years," Lee said. "But tonight our young kids stepped it up. We found a way, but it wasn't always pretty. The character of those kids in that locker room is what got us this trophy tonight. Hopefully a win like this will make us a better team throughout the season. We are pretty excited."

St. Mary's jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after defenseman Nico Scalli pumped a shot from the outside which sailed through traffic and eluded Harbormen netminder Robbie Kornack at 9:51 of the initial period.

Thanks to some stellar play by McMullen, the Spartans managed to dodge a few bullets during the first and second periods, as he turned aside some quality chances. Over the first 30 minutes, Hingham (2-2-2) put forth 12 shots.

"Overall, I thought we played well as a team," Harbormen head coach Tony Messina said. "Their goalie played great and made a lot of good saves."

With St. Mary's clinging to its slim lead, it would set the stage for a thrilling final frame. Hingham came out for the third and continued to play the role of aggressor, yet still had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard as the defense continued to bottle them up anytime they worked the puck in-between the circles.

At 8:19, the Harbormen finally had an answer to their offensive frustration. Senior forward Marshall Terres, left all alone inside the right circle, blistered a shot over McMullen's catching glove to knot things at 1-1. For the remainder of the period, Hingham, now playing with newfound life, continued to penetrate the offensive zone with reckless abandon in an attempt to notch the go-ahead goal. However, McMullen continued to stand tall between the pipes and kept the game deadlocked after regulation.

Hingham would carry its offense over into the five minute, 4 on 4 overtime frame, by putting up five shots on McMullen only to be denied. With still nothing decided, things transcended into the shootout to seek out a victor. Kinne scored on St. Mary's first try. After the next two Spartans failed to find the back of the net, Carpenter sealed it with his hard wrist shot through Kornack's pads.

"This is a great confidence booster for us when you consider some of the teams we still have to play," said Lee. "Now these kids know what they have to do in order to compete. Every kid gave everything they had (in this tournament)."

The shootout was the second for Hingham in as many days, as they defeated Malden Catholic in that fashion on Wednesday.

"We are an inexperienced team," Messina said. "We have kids that are trying to contribute this year that might be older grade-wise but they didn't contribute a lot last year. Now they are starting to feel like they can do it this year. For us, we need to find a way to score more goals. I do think that will come as we move forward."

Strong 3rd propels Austin Prep in Consolation Game

Leading by a goal after two periods, Austin Prep tallied three times in the third to put away Malden Catholic in Thursday's consolation game. Scores from Richard Lyons, J.J. Harding, his second, and Sullivan Marino closed the book on the Lancers.

The Cougars (4-2) started this tilt strong. Harding and Alex Maffeo each lit the lamp just two minutes apart to give AP a 2-0 lead after one period. After a sluggish start, MC (0-2-1) managed to get one back just 4:03 into the middle frame on Colin Nestor's breakaway and ensuing backhand tally past junior goaltender Robert Farrell.

But the Lancers' offense was held in check for the remainder. Despite putting up 11 shots in the third, they came away with nothing to show for it as Farrell, who stopped 20 shots, came up big when he had to and was aided by the the Cougars' late game heroics.

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