Super 8 Play-In Game; Xaverian and Duxbury
North Billerica, MA-The Xaverian Hawks came back from an early two goal deficit, scoring four unanswered to upend the Duxbury Dragons 4-2 in a Super 8 Play-in game at the Chelmsford Forum. Four different goal scorers chipped in for the Hawks as they will move on to play Pope Francis in the first round if the Super 8 on Sunday. Senior James Herring (Natick, MA) earned the win in goal as he settled in after an early Duxbury barrage.
Duxbury carried the play early as they had more energy at the drop. 3:39 into the first, Jake Brennan grabbed a puck and fired it home to give the Dragons a 1-0 lead. James Lawlor and Drake Hadley picked up assists. About half way through the stanza, the Dragons struck again. Nick Demio made a nice play to stop a Xaverian 2 on 1. Duxbury went the other way and Will Nolan flipped what looked like a harmless shot through a screen and in the top corner for a 2-0 lead. Jonny Campbell picked up an assist though Demio should have earned one as well. Despite Duxbury carrying the play, Xaverian came alive the last few minutes. Josh Barton (Weymouth, MA) and Ryan Pomposelli went in 2 on 1 but Duxbury goalie Nate Romanelli, who finished with 27 saves, stood tall and stopped the point-blank chance by Pomposelli with 1:51 left. It looked like the Dragons would get to the room with a 2-0 lead. However, with 17.9 seconds left senior Josh Barton buried a rebound of a Pomposelli shot to give the Hawks their first goal, confidence and momentum headed to the second. 2-1 Duxbury after one period.
The second period saw the first set of penalties called. Play was even and the pace had picked up with a slight advantage to Xaverian who seemed to carry the momentum from the first. The Dragons took the first penalty. Xaverian used five forwards on their first unit and it payed off. With 8:18 left Josh Barton fed Matty Ryan (Milton MA) a perfect pass and he fired home a beauty post and in. Robbie Barletta (Walpole, MA) picked up a secondary assist as he helped start a clean zone entry. Duxbury then took a four-minute penalty which they killed off. Romanelli came up large and they bent but did not break. They blocked shots and chipped pucks out. Seemed to give the Dragons some momentum. They had a late power play chance but didn’t get too much going. Xaverian again had the mojo and it felt like they were winning the game despite it being 2-2 after two.
The third period Xaverian’s top players were getting better and finding more space. Barton drew a penalty with 8:44 left after a great shift by his line. With only a few seconds left in the ensuing power play, junior Eric Wainwright (West Roxbury, MA) moved to the net and deflected a Pomposelli shot/pass home for the ultimate game winner. Ryan also picked up an assist on the power play goal. The Hawks kept pushing and refused to play on their heels and put together some nice shifts in the Duxbury end. With about 1:20 left Duxbury got Romanelli out for the sixth skater. They generated some chances but soon after a timeout and faceoff in the Xaverian end, John Joyce (Dorchester, MA) made a Duxbury forward miss, wheeled behind his net and fired the puck about 175 feet, dead center for the empty net goal. Sophomore Trevor Connolly (Weymouth, MA) picked up an assist as he was out in a key situation.
It was a well-played, well coached game by two solid high school teams. Duxbury now becomes the number one seed in the DI tourney while Xaverian will play on in the Super 8.
1st Josh Barton (Xaverian)
2nd Ryan Pomposelli (Xaverian)
3rd John Joyce (Xaverian)
NZ’s Take: Duxbury is tough to play against. They play hard in their end and know Romanelli will stop what he can see. They blocked lots of shots, even quite a few with their second layer of defenders. The late goal in the first was a killer. The game also turned for them when special teams started to come into play in the second and third period. The Dragon’s power play struggled to get going and Xaverian scored two on the man-up. More importantly for the Hawks, it got their top players going and afforded them space. You could see their confidence build. Well played game by both sides and both were deserving of being there. Xaverian’s top players are more talented than Duxbury’s top players and you will see that a lot when a Catholic plays a public. They showed up tonight. For Xaverian; Barton was excellent. The sort of game a player like him has to figure out a way to help his team win. He did that. The late first period goal started it. On his assist on the tying goal, Barton kicked a pass from his skate blade to his stick, settled it and hit Ryan o the tape. He then drew the penalty after a dominant shift that led to the power play where they scored the game winner. He also was great on the penalty kill. He did what he should have done and remains one of our very top players in the MIAA. Jack Silva (Bridgewater, MA) is an interesting freshman 2003. Has size, can skate and did well to protect and distribute. Little wiggle too. Talented player to watch. Junior Wainwright is fast and a pest. Played hard and was all over the ice. Went and got pucks. Played o the first PP unit. Showed great vision and can thread passes. Shifty and slick. Played very well here. John Joyce is tough to play against. Jam around the net and knows the action is at the cage. Played PP and PK and was out at the end in a key spot. The empty net goal showed lots of guts and we loved it. It’s players like him that will have to keep it going if Xaverian wants to upset PF. Barletta passed well and showed good vision in transition. Played the point on the PP. Lots of skill for the 2002. We like his upside. Ryan also played the point on the power play. He looked and played stronger than his listed 165lbs. Showed a strong stride, prepared stick and the junior will be one of the best (he is close now) in the MIAA next season. Can fire the puck. He is a scorer. Pomposelli plays second fiddle a bit to Barton but he as excellent here too. Played smart and moved to scoring spots without the puck. Plays a cerebral game and has a cannon for a shot. Herring would probably like to have the second goal back but it was a knuckle puck through bodies. He rebounded well and made some nice saves down the stretch. Battled well for space in the crease. Found pucks. For Duxbury; Romanelli played well. He is technically sound and quiet in the cage. Decent size. Moved well side to side. None of the three goals were on him. Nick Demio is a junior D we liked. He really played the rush well and was smart in his end. Blocked shots, has a good stick tight gaps and settled things at times. Not much offensively but he was one of the best players on the ice, either team. Jack Venturelli has great size. The senior D used his reach well and showed some flair up ice. Athletic looking player. Zach Stewart was slippery and showed he could create a bit. Duxbury needs more of that in the DI tournament. Tanner Smith is strong and protected the puck well. Heavy shot. Junior has to learn to get to scoring spots more and fire at will. Campbell played in every situation. The best puck mover on D tonight for the Dragons. He is a junior to watch. Two-way type who is comfortable/productive on the PP.