Sunday, March 18, 2018

Plymouth South Boys' Hockey defeats Stoneham in OT Thriller for D2 Crown

Photo by Brendan Hall
By Michael Abelson (@ABELS0N)

BOSTON - The town of Plymouth had never seen a high school hockey team make a sectional final. Or win a sectional final. Or play at the TD Garden. Or raise a state champion’s trophy in the air.

All that changed yesterday.

The Plymouth South boys went shot for shot with Stoneham in a thriller that needed 2:26 of extra hockey, before junior Alex Hayward feathered home a shot while parallel to the goal line to earn South a 4-3 overtime win, and send its black-and-teal clad fans into a frenzy.

“The school started hockey in 1971,” Plymouth South coach Mike McCosh said. “No team’s ever done what we just did. The United States in 1980 had their miracle, but Plymouth, Massachusetts just had ours.”

Hayward stole the show for Plymouth. With the Panthers down 3-2 after two he did it all on offense. On the first shift of the period he tied the game up at three off a pass from senior Peter Fantoni. Hayward capped it all with the overtime winner.

Hayward drove down the ice and, while on the goal line, floated a shot towards cage that tipped off the back for Stoneham goalie Peter Barry and into the cage.

“We’ve been working all week getting pucks to the net, getting bodies through, and finishing the rebounds,” Hayward said. “The first one I got the deflection and it went in. The OT winner, gotta get pucks on net, that’s what I did, and it went in.”

The game was a classic by any measure. The teams traded goals in a frenetic first that ended with the Panthers up 2-1. Stoneham bounced back and took control in the second with a pair of goals in the back half of the period to take the lead.

Plymouth’s defense stepped up in the offensive end. Senior blue liners Jake Worrick and Joey Van Winkle both ripped home goals from the point in the first period.

“Basically every game is really keep the shots low from the point, try to get rebounds, try to hit sticks,” Van Winkle said. “If we’re lucky they’ll find the back of the net. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Both goalies shined as Barry and Plymouth South goalie Cam McPhee both turned aside 28 shots.

For the Spartans, the loss capped an emotional season. Freshman James Luti died just before the start of the season and Stoneham played, and dedicated, the season in his honor.

The Spartans rumbled through the Division II North bracket to get to the final and were led by their seniors on the Garden ice. Senior Joe Carroll scored for the Spartans and senior captain Jake Burridge had a say in all three Spartan goals with a pair of assists and the third Stoneham goal.

“We devoted the season to James Luti and the kids rallied behind it,” Stoneham coach Paul Sacco said. “It’s a tragic event for anybody to go through especially kids of that age. It’s difficult for anybody. To lose a great person like that is devastating, but the kids fought all year. We had our ups and our downs. I think we were 14-4-2 in regular season and we just fought through those tough times. I’m proud of those kids for going as far as they did.”

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