Canton, MA – Neutral Zone was in attendance at the Canton Ice House in Canton, Massachusetts to watch the Catholic Conference Championship between the visiting Knights of Catholic Memorial and the Hawks of Xaverian. The winner of this game would claim the Catholic Conference Title in what has been a crazy year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each team played 10 games during the year and then won their respective semifinal matches to get to this final day. The game was fast paced and physical and was decided by a goal in the second half.
The opening frame started slow, with each team feeling each other out. Most of the play was in the neutral zone and played in transition. The Knights would strike first after a nice transition play. Will MacNeil (Belmont, MA) made a nice one-touch pass to Dylan LaMonica (Dorchester, MA) who walked a Xaverian defender before sliding the puck between the goalie’s five hole. The Hawks would tie the game before the end of the first half when Braden O’Hara (Duxbury, MA) found a streaking Joe DiMartino (Dedham, MA) with a cross-ice feed. DiMartino cut down the right side of the ice before snapping a shot over the glove of the CM goalie.
The second half was tight checking and physical. Each team had three power play opportunities throughout the course of the game and generated some good chances. Both goalies, Kevin McGrath (Milton, MA) for Xaverian and Dom Walecka (Stoughton, MA) played solid in net and challenged shooters all night. Xaverian finally broke through when Nolan Dion (Marshfield, MA) walked around a CM defender at the offensive blue line then snapped a pass down low to O’Hara. He walked out of the corner, and similar to last night against the MC Lancers, roofed a backhand over the goalie’s glove. The Knights would not go away however, and had their best chance to tie it on a two-on-one. McGrath made a sprawling save sliding post to post. In the ensuing scramble, a Xaverian defender covered the puck with his glove which gave CM a penalty shot. McGrath again was up to the task, staying patient and closing his five hole. The Knights would make one final push with the goalie out but would not be able to find the equalizer.
The Hawks were the best team start to finish in this shortened season and earned the Catholic Conference Championship. Congrats to the Xaverian team and coaching staff.
- F Braden O’Hara, Xaverian
- F Joe DiMartino, Xaverian
- F Dylan LaMonica, CM
Both teams played a strong game and it came down to the final half. Xaverian was the more physical team and held zone pressure for long stretches. They made the most of their opportunities.
For the visitors, Dom Walecka continued his strong play in net. He is smooth in between the pipes and doesn’t give up any easy goals. He closes well and steers rebounds to the corners. He is active and helps his defensemen by playing pucks. He has a good glove and challenged shooters all night. Will MacNeil was noticeable. He is smaller but is quick and can beat defenders to the outside. He has quick feet and a good first step and gets to the net. He made a few nice touch plays (including the CM goal) to create positive chances. Glen Considine (Brighton, MA) was around the puck and worked hard all night. He plays a direct game and does a lot of little things. He blocks shots and stops on pucks. He works well with possession and makes some nice plays to free up teammates.
For the Hawks, Braden O’Hara again led the offense. He plays a controlled game and is always around the soft areas of the ice just before the puck. Same as the semifinal, he scored on a slick backhand shot that proved to be the ultimate game winner. He also made a nice cross-ice assist to spring his linemate for a goal. He was again strong off the cycle and got the puck to the net. He battles and isn’t afraid to play physical. Joe DiMartino was again a big factor in the Xaverian offense. DiMartino was fast through the middle of the ice and finds soft areas in the offensive zone. He showed a quick release on his shot on the first goal. He was a big reason why the Hawks won the Championship. On the back end, Nolan Dion had a nice night. He is mobile and athletic and has good edges and balance. He is smooth with the puck at the offensive blue line and he changes angles to get pucks to the net. He is light on his feet and has a good first step. He was solid in his own zone and kept pressure away from the goalie. He also made a slick move around a forward to create the winning goal.