Sunday, March 18, 2018

Waltham Skates Away from Marshfield for Boys' D1 State Championship

By Jake Levin (@JakeLevin09)

BOSTON -Half of the members of the Waltham Hawks weren’t even alive the last time the school won a state championship in hockey in 2002, but that didn’t stop head coach John Maguire from breaking out every possible reminder of the past along the way for the current group.

Relishing the past created the perfect present for Waltham, which skated away from the Marshfield Rams for a 4-1 win in the Division 1 State Championship game on Sunday night at TD Garden.

The Hawks (18-5-2) never trailed against the Rams (15-7-5), leaving the rest up to goaltender Kyle Penton. The senior netminder ended his career with a bang, turning aside 33 of the 34 Marshfield shots flung in his direction.

“He’s been locked in since Nov. 27,” Maguire said of Penton, referencing the first day of the preseason. “He’s been great all year, but especially in the playoffs. If you watch him in warmups, which I do to make sure he doesn’t get hit in the neck by one of our snipers, he doesn’t let a puck in during warmups. He’s that focused and that tuned in. you saw that tonight before the game.”

Maguire said that he had several members of the 2002 title team, which defeated Springfield Cathedral 3-2 in overtime, come back and speak to players of the current outfit during the course of the postseason run. Chris Macinnis, now an assistant coach under Maguire, was a freshman when the Hawks won it all 16 years ago. He’s been boasting his championship ring to the players at practice, Maguire said.

“We used a lot of the 2002 theme,” Maguire said. “We had some of the alumni come back and speak to the kids. We showed them video celebrations. We tried to use as much [Bill] Belichickian motivation as we could.”

It all would have been for naught if Chris Egan, Andrew Miller, Declan Reynolds and J.T. Logue hadn’t scored for the Hawks. Egan scored the lone goal of the first frame, putting home a rebound at 7:24 to give Waltham the lead for good.

Miller buried a pass from Reynolds to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead in the second, but it was Reynolds himself finding the back of the net that really made Waltham’s championship dream a reality.

As Hawks senior defenseman Gerard Jelloe pointed out after the game, a 2-0 lead is the worst lead in hockey.

“I knew we had to come out and get a couple, at least, in this last period,” Jelloe said.

Sure enough, a mere 13 seconds into the final period, Reynolds beat Marshfield goaltender Nevan Costello for a 3-0 Hawks edge.

“That was obviously important, but we wanted to make sure we didn’t give up too many odd-man rushes,” Maguire said of third period adjustments. “We had some success with that and we got pucks deep to make them go 200 feet. They have some talented forwards; [Paul Rorke] and [Tim Doyle] in particularly looked like they could score any shift. I thought our defensive corps was solid and Kyle bailed us out.”

Costello made 15 saves in a losing effort for Marshfield.

Max Burum grabbed one back for the Rams, knocking one in off his foot to give Marshfield a pulse at 8:57 of the third.

Logue’s insurance goal all but signed, sealed and delivered the title to Waltham at 11:35 of the third, a coronation of the historic season for the Hawks.

“I knew right off the bat we had a good group coming in this year,” Jelloe said. “Everybody worked hard and worked together and stayed together. That’s really what gelled us together to bring us here now.”

Waltham, winners of the Division 1 North region as the No. 4 seed, wound up outscoring teams 15-3 along the way to its title, only its 3-2 semifinal win in overtime over No. 8 Belmont ever perhaps in doubt.

“We played extremely well in those games and it starts in goal,” Maguire said. “The defense has been solid and we’ve had different guys scoring. It was a good team contribution all the way through the tournament.”

A year after making the first Super Eight appearance in program history, Marshfield’s encore ended with a loss at the Garden.

When asked if he thought on Day 1 of the season that the Rams had a championship run in them, head coach Dan Connolly said that he believed in his guys and they believed in each other, and that was all that mattered.

“It stinks to lose, there’s no easy words to talk to these kids about losing, but every single one of them should be proud,” Connolly said. “It was a great run and a great season. Only one team can win and unfortunately it wasn’t us. Give Waltham credit; it’s a great team with a great coach. They made a few more plays than we did.”

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