Marlboro, MA: Late night Tri-Valley Large action at the New England Sports Center did not disappoint as D3 juggernaut Hopkinton remained undefeated with 6-2 victory over a top D2 contender in Dedham. There was a lot to like after seeing the Hillers for the first time this season. Hopkinton’s youth was definitely on display from puck drop, especially freshmen Pavit Mehra who was the best player on the ice all night. Mehra recorded three assists and was an offensive nightmare for the Marauders defense.
Dedham struck first less than three minutes into the game when senior Alex Georgantas jumped on a rebound and fired under the bar for a brief 1-0 lead. From that point forward, Hopkinton took over the contest for the final 35 minutes. Second star, senior Kyle Rogers got the Hillers level with a nice individual effort to beat Dedham’s Connor Stamm. Two minutes later, another freshmen, Joe Carrazza, capitalized on the Dedham turnover in the high slot and walked in untouched to finish off a nice goal and push the lead to 2-1. Rogers tallied his second of the game late in the period when he buried a rebound off a strategically placed shot from fellow senior Sean Walsh. The captain was tough to defend all night for many reasons, but his straight ahead speed was tough to match by anyone on the ice. He creates many offensive chances for himself and teammates just by his raw speed.
The Mehra show started in the second, though he was dominant all game. Walsh was the recipient of his hard work and passing ability as Mehra used his body along the wall to strip the Dedham defense, wheel out front and slide a cross-crease pass for an easy tap-in and 4-1 cushion. The Marauders caught a break on their second goal as a Hiller defenseman lost an edge at the blue line, and allowed senior Michael Flynn to collect and beat Hopkinton netminder Gray Bailey over his right shoulder making it 4-2. Mehra struck again at 12:02 after a great retrieval behind the net, escaped two defenders and flipped a backhander on the tape of senior Will Quinlan, who one-timed it past Stamm, who never really saw it. The Hillers headed to intermission up 5-1 and outshooting Dedham 26-10.
Hopkinton continued to push throughout the final frame, putting 12 more shots on Stamm. The Hillers cashed in on an early power-play on the prettiest sequence of the night. Mehra worked the half wall into the slot, slid a no look pass to Quinlan on the doorstep, who then wheeled around on his backhand to setup senior captain Tommy Hamblet with an empty net. That goal capped off the scoring as Hopkinton cruised to victory. Final: Hopkinton 6 Dedham 2
- F Pavit Mehra, Hopkinton (3 A)
- F Kyle Rogers, Hopkinton (2G, A)
- F Sean Walsh, Hopkinton (G,A)
TTPA D Dylan Mansur, Hopkinton
NZ Notes: For Hopkinton Pavit Mehra was worth the price of admission. The right shot wing, who also centered the first PP unit, made something happen every shift. Slick skater with effortless stride whose playmaking ability and hockey IQ were off the chart. Creates space in all three zones, slows down game so he can dictate play and loves the action. Throws his weight around, takes hits to make plays: he is fearless from start to finish on every shift. It will be fun watching him in the future. Rogers and Walsh showed their offensive ability and veteran leadership throughout the game. The duo feed off each other and extend the defense with their speed and awareness. The Hillers displayed two more impressive freshman who received big minutes throughout the game. Defenseman Dylan Mansur, who plays his club hockey with the Minuteman Flames, was very impressive and known by the NZ staff. Mansur played in the top four, first pair PK and was reliable and efficient in all situations. Stepped up and separated the puck from a Dedham forward in the neutral zone showing a quick stick and great decision-making ability. He’ll be a big part of how far Hopkinton goes in the state tournament. Forward Joe Carrazza was another bright spot with a high compete and finishing touch around the net. Showed maturity for a freshmen being responsible in both ends. Overall great night for the Hillers and some of their veterans and young players. The only downfall of the night was no player introductions to start the game, in addition to the anthem being played before both teams could get to their respective bluelines. The expectations are high for this team, now we need a game presentation to match it.
For Dedham it was a long night after a quick 1-0 start. The speed was a tough matchup, especially anything wide on the Marauder defense. Dedham struggled defending the Hillers best players, and the result showed it. They were outshot 38-11 and just couldn’t generate much offense with Hopkinton controlling play territorially. Alex Georgantas was a bright spot along with goaltender Connor Stamm, who prevented the deficit from being a lot worse. Dedham still leads the TVL Small and will have something to say in the tournament.