Road Warriors: Winchester Shuts Out Reading 4-0

Reading, MA – This anticipated matchup featured teams separated by a handful of miles up Route 93. The 3-1-0 Reading Rockets played host to the 5-1-0 Winchester Sachems in a battle of the public schools. You could feel the juice in the building even before the puck drop of this one: the Reading students and Winchester students both brought large cheering sections and started making noise in warmups as their teams emerged. Once the game got underway, they made some noise on every save, every hit and every penalty call. This tilt was a powder keg from the jump. While the first period featured some exciting breakaways, turnovers, big hits and odd-man chances – the two marquee goalies stood tallest: Reading’s junior Dylan Emery and Winchester’s sophomore Robert DiVincenzo. Each was equal to the task of loose pucks in the paint, odd-man rushes and crease crashing. Both teams are playing hard and fast to prove that their school has the better team.

Editor’s Note: Big thanks to the fellas in the Reading Student Section who gave us the Burbank Wi-Fi password and allowed us to tweet and start writing this recap from the stands…

The second period was more of the same as the two teams threw body blows and did everything they could to bury the first marker. The first tally came four minutes in as senior forward Nolan Butler found just enough space to Emery’s left to put one home short side. Butler looked directly at the Reading student section after scoring and motioned for them to be quiet as he embraced the Winchester students along the glass. Reading rallied and put a couple of quality shifts together but two minutes later Winchester struck again. With 6:25 gone in the second, Michael Drew put a feed in the slot where senior forward Joseph Lepore deposited it just before he was cleaned out by a Reading defender. He motioned to the Winchester crowd to whoop it up and of course they obliged. The second stanza ended 2-0 Winchester.

In the third period, the Sachems went for the knockout blow early with a goal 50 seconds into the period. A centering feed from behind the net by junior forward Ryan McCarthy went off Reading goalie Dylan Emery and redirected right to Lepore who was standing in front of the cage, just waiting to jam it home to an empty net. In his soon to be trademarked fashion, Lepore skated over to the Reading student section to make sure they knew who notched the goal. Reading did not pack it in at any point, throwing a number of good chances at DiVincenzo on the power play but the sophomore stopped every one of them. That led to the icing on the cake as six minutes after the prior tally, Lepore completed his natural hat trick by setting up shop behind the net and tapping a puck towards the right skate of Emery, which banked in behind him. Lepore then skated over to the Reading student section making a sleeping gesture to imply this game had been put to bed; the final score Winchester 4, Reading 0.

NZ’s Take:

The atmosphere of this game was electric as we mentioned above, it is a great selling point as to why more people should actively look to go check out MA HS games – especially the rivalries. In terms of today’s play, Winchester simply outworked Reading in all facets. They played harder, smarter and stronger all game, and despite Reading’s athletic plays and team speed, they were unable to stick with the physicality of Winchester.

This game was one of the hardest games to pick the order of the Three Stars, because there were so many strong efforts from the Sachems. First was the effort of DiVincenzo: who saw the puck really well all night and clamped down strong in the blue paint. He is continuing to make a name for himself as one of the state’s better young goalies. There was also the natural hatty for Joseph Lepore, who was heavy on the puck and simply went to the net every chance he got. Lepore could have actually have had four goals as another shot in the third period just missed the net. But it is rare in this back and forth MA HS season to see one player score three straight across two periods – an impressive feat.

For the Sachems, we liked the play from junior Ryan McCarthy who showed a budding power game and good short area speed as well as senior Michael Drew who was all over the ice creating opportunities with his speed, length and aggressiveness. Also, don’t sleep on the play tonight by senior defender Luke Mix who was really great protecting his net front and keenly aware of his surroundings and Colin Van Stry who was darting all around the sheet creating matchup problems with his size and acceleration ability.

For the Rockets, senior captain Michael Tobin led by example putting in hard-working shifts and by forcing the defense to follow him around because of his good footwork and speed to the outside. Defender Cam Lawhorne was playing big minutes in this game and he was routinely good on each shift. He plays an aggressive, physical and quick style: he can deliver shots when needed or he can act as a one-man transition because of that acceleration. Goalie Dylan Emery does not get enough credit for how good he was in the early going of this game. He was really confident early, feeding off his prior victory in net and the ferocity of the home crowd in this one. He made a brilliant right pad save followed by a double fist pump as the puck was cleared in the first. He will be recognized as one of the better goalies in MA HS this season when all is said and done, but he did not fare as well this evening.

Three Stars:

  1. G Robert DiVincenzo, Winchester
  2. F Joseph Lepore, Winchester
  3. F Ryan McCarthy, Winchester