LIVE BLOG: MIAA Boys D1-D4 State Finals

Boston, MA – For the first time MassNZ is live at the TD Garden to watch the MIAA State Finals. We will be here ALL day covering the action on the Boys games AND tweeting out Girls updates as well. All you need to do is hit refresh on this page and you will have a period-by-period recap as it happens from our chair on the 9th Floor.

GAME 1: D4 State Final: 2 seed Watertown vs 4 seed Sandwich 9am

First period: There was a palpable buzz in the arena, even for a 9am ripper. The parking was jampacked, there were lots of families gathering throughout the arena at all levels and both fan bases brought HUGE cheering sections. The Blue Knights fans took nearly the entirety of the loge section on their side of the ice and Watertown packed the neutral zone loge stands. As for the hockey itself, the Raiders from Watertown came out gangbusters and dominated the early possession and put a ton of shots on net. Their zone exits were clean and they created more chances on the rush. They would open the scoring by drawing a Sandwich penalty and capitalizing a few minutes later. 10 minutes into the frame junior captain Anthony Venezia fired the puck to the front of the net and created a point-blank chance for senior captain Mason Andrade. His first shot on net was turned away but his second attempt was lifted over the Sandwich netminder: 1-0 Watertown. The Raiders had all of the momentum and maintained it throughout the balance of the period…until what looked like an innocent rush up the left wing by junior forward Colin McIver of Sandwich. He found a clean lane to the net and snapped a shot short side top shelf by the Watertown goalie to tie it up with 8 seconds to go: a major boost heading into the room. After 1, we were tied at one with the SOG at 14-4 in favor of Watertown.

Second period: In the second period, Sandwich started strong and was able to push the pace a bit more offensively, they were unable to breakthrough early because Watertown’s netminder had stoned them at every turn. A few minutes later, Watertown again began to take control and started punching into the offensive zone with more regularity. About halfway into the frame they would break the tie as senior defender Nathan Master saw an opportunity up ice and fired a great outlet feed to senior Colin Campbell who deftly moved from his backhand to his forehand on the breakaway and tucked it home: 2-1 Raiders. Once again, the onus was on the Blue Knights to respond, and respond they did four minutes later. Watertown was whistled for an infraction and that was all that Sandwich would need: sophomore speedster Chris Cardillo came off the wall and fired a pass to senior forward Caleb Richardson who walked in the slot and deposited the puck top shelf to tie things back up, 2-2. For the final three minutes, both sides looked to generate good looks around the net, but came up empty. We went to the third period all knotted up once again. Cumulative SOG totals after 2: 24-11 again in favor of Watertown.

Third period: This period started with an interesting switch as junior Watertown netminder Casey Williams was brought in to spell senior Jared Norton. It looked like Norton was hurt by the end of the second period and fortunately, the Raiders have a very capable backup in Williams, so on we went with the third 15. Early in the frame Sandwich began putting on a good deal of cycle pressure but Williams was able to shut those chances down. Ultimately there were not many shots on goal in the period, but the opportunities that were created were Grade A in many cases. Both teams traded odd-man rushes and netfront scrums, but the netminders were stout at each end. It looked as though we were headed to OT when a turnover in the D zone led to two quick shots by Sandwich and if not for a tremendous mid-air spinning stick save by Williams, this game would have likely been over. 45 minutes was not enough to solve this riddle: OT was coming up next between Watertown and Sandwich.

OT: In the OT period, for those unaware, we started with an eight minute 4-on-4 period and if we didn’t have a goal here, we would move to 3-on-3. Both teams played hard and fast to start the period and there was an early breakaway look two minutes in by Andrade that was turned away by Sandwich goalie Mitchell Norkevicius and on we went. Just a couple of minutes later there was a quick rush put on by Cardillo, but it was stoned by Williams. Both sides were strong on their sticks and limiting space in the middle of the ice. With under 10 seconds to go there was a strong rush up ice by Andrade, pushing his way past defenders, that was turned back by Norkevicius with a nice pad save. On we went to 2OT…

2OT: Just 1:46 into OT, this one was ended by who else? The guy who got Sandwich to the Finals with an OT GWG: sophomore forward Jack Connolly. He circled the wagons behind the net, curled to the top of the circle and fired one top shelf to end it. The Blue Knights are your D4 State Champions. Final shot totals: Watertown 33- Sandwich 21

Three Stars:

  1. F Jack Connolly, Sandwich
  2. F Anthony Venezia, Watertown
  3. F Mason Andrade, Watertown


GAME 2: D3 State Finals: 1 seed Marlborough vs 3 seed Hanover

Boston, MA – As the first crowd shuffled out, the second crowd shuffled in as OT got underway in the D4 Finals. Fans from both sides caught the end of the first game and they really began to get vocal pregame: chanting back and forth as they were recognized on the video board. Hanover pretty much took up every seat from goal line to goal line on their team’s side, many of them wearing white t-shirts and face paint and Marlborough had a big fan base spread across the opposite side of the ice with many of the students wearing Panther orange t-shirts. This was going to be a good one, we had a good feeling about it.

First period: We certainly weren’t short on action in the opening 15, despite the fact that the opening five minutes was a feeling out period as both teams adjusted to the TD Garden sheet. But after that, the Hawks began to gain early control. Just seven minutes in senior forward Robbie Hanna dished to freshman phenom Mike Munroe in front of the cage and he snapped it home to make it 1-0 Hanover. Less than two minutes later, they were back in the same position as Munroe curled behind the net and found Hanna out front who fired it home on a one-timer: 2-0 Hawks. At that point Hanover had all the momentum and was winning every race to loose pucks…but the Panthers had some get back of their own in store. About a minute later Marlborough sophomore defender Luc Masse fielded a puck in the neutral zone and slipped his way through the Hanover D and finished on the forehand in front of the net to cut the lead in half: 2-1. At that point the Panthers were feeding off the energy and added the tying goal on the man advantage as Collin Tunnera dished behind the net to senior captain Marcus Chrisafideis who wrapped one around on the Hanover netminder and tucked it under his left pad: 2-2 was the score with under three minutes to go. That’s how the first would come to an end: SOG totals were 11-6 in favor of Hanover.

Second period: In the middle frame, it was once again more firewagon hockey, both teams streaking up and down the ice creating great looks. Plenty of team speed and hockey IQ shown on both sides, but Hanover would break the tie early. Four minutes in it was Munroe the freshman for Hanover that stole a puck and caught the Panthers in a change, finishing off a nice BH/FH breakaway to make it 3-2 Hawks. About three minutes later, unsurprisingly, Marlborough had a counter punch, a turnover in the neutral zone led to a 2-on-1 play and Chrisafideis made a really smart play to wait out the defenseman, pull the puck around him and dish it cross-crease to a waiting senior captain Mark Evangelous who buried to tie it up 3-3. Both teams were ready to respond for the next goal and the first opportunity went to Hanover as Marlborough was whistled for back-to-back penalties. With roughly three minutes to go there was a netfront scrum in front of the Marlborough net and Thao Lanagan poked the puck back to senior Max DaSilva who finished over the prone goalie: Hanover was up 4-3 and that was how the middle frame would end. Shots through two: Hanover led 23-13.

Third period: In the final frame both teams were looking for the kill shot, and over the course of the period, it really never arrived. Marlborough was going all out and had some great looks at the net throughout the period, but ultimately Hawks goalie Liam Monahan was able to clamp down on any second chances around the crease. The Panthers had some chances of note, care of a couple of power plays, but the Hawks PK was stout all period long. Finally nearing the end of the final 15 they pulled their goalie for the extra attacker with a minute to go, but a puck that snuck past the defense was scooped up at the opposing blue line by Hanna who fired it home to give the Hawks the two-goal lead that they would not surrender. Final score: Hanover 5, Marlborough 3: the Hawks are your D3 State Champions. Final shot totals: Hanover 28, Marlborough 19

Three Stars:

  1. F Mike Munroe, Hanover
  2. F Robbie Hanna, Hanover
  3. F Marcus Chrisafideis, Marlborough


GAME 3: D2 State Finals: 1 seed Tewksbury vs 3 seed Canton

Boston, MA – Running just over an hour behind schedule, the D2 Final was ready to commence following an OT winner to decide the Girls game between Canton and Algonquin. The fans began to file in as the Zambonis came out to clear the ice and many of the Bulldogs faithful stuck around to see their boys team compete. Tewksbury brought what seemed like half the town down for this game and they filled most of the seats from goal line to goal line on their side of the ice. This game would be a rematch of 2019 Finals – the Redmen were seeking some retribution for a 6-2 loss – on we went…

First period: This first period featured very little time to settle in for either team. As they have done for much of the season, Tewksbury went on the offensive and pinned Canton deep in their zone for a solid chunk of the first half of the frame. The Redmen were winning races to loose pucks, playing more physical and with more pace out of the gate. Unsurprisingly, they also cracked the scoresheet first. Five minutes into the period, top defender Caden Connors carried the puck deep into the zone and got off a quality shot on net that the goalie challenged and the rebound from said shot was left sitting in a vulnerable spot where rising sophomore forward Matt Cooke pounced and fired it into the empty cage: 1-0 Tewksbury. The Redmen kept the pressure on and had a few more good chances but Canton began to gain better possession and created a few looks of their own. Despite this, Tewksbury would add one more before the period ended. It was That Dude again Connors who picked up the puck at the blue line and slipped his way through the defense on the power play and made a nice forehand-backhand move to polish it off: 2-0 Tewksbury would be our score after 1. SOG after 1: Tewksbury leads 10-8.

Second period: Did not see high volumes in terms of shot totals or goals scored, but both teams played hard and fast. Both sides were able to better limit the opposing team’s space offensively and each side created transition well off of turnovers. Tewksbury came out strong again and pinned Canton deep with their cycle and ability to protect the puck with big bodies. Canton did create more sustained pressure as the period wore on and created their best looks of the night on a power play midway through the frame. Fortunately for Tewksbury, junior goalie Ben O’Keefe was up to the task: he was reading the play well and seeing through traffic effectively. He made a couple of point blank saves that had folks up in the 9th floor hooting and hollering. End of 2: still 2-0 Tewksbury. SOG totals through two: 18-16 Canton.

Third period: In the third period, once again Tewksbury came out strong and looked to get that next goal to seal this one. They ran up against a brick wall in the form of freshman netminder Colin Davis who stoned them repeatedly in this period. The first half of this period was largely owned by the Redmen, they had most of the possession and kept the pressure in the offensive zone for long stretches. That is, until the midway point of this period when Canton senior Eddie Gillis poked the puck free in the offensive zone and it was collected by junior AJ Thomas who cut across the slot and found the twine behind O’Keefe to cut the lead in half. The Bulldogs had the Redmen on the run at this point and were making plays all over the rink and putting a heavy press on in the offensive zone. Tewksbury weathered the storm and soldiered on. They regained control and ended the game a few minutes later as Sean Lane fired the puck up ice where Connors was able to chase it down and put it in the empty net: 3-1 Redmen. Despite a couple of final chances by the Bulldogs: Tewksbury are your D2 State Champions. SOG: Tewksbury 25-23

Three Stars:

  1. D Caden Connors, Tewksbury
  2. G Ben O’Keefe, Tewksbury
  3. F Matt Cooke, Tewksbury


GAME 4: D1 State Finals 1 seed St. John’s Prep vs 2 seed Xaverian

One final game stood between us and the end of the MIAA hockey season and it was the D1 State Final between the two top-seeded teams in Mass HS this season (and Catholic Conference rivals): the Eagles of SJP and the Hawks of Xaverian. Both teams are well familiar with each other have played against one another twice and split the series (5-2 win for SJP and a 2-0 win for Xaverian). The rubber game for all the D1 marbles promised to be a doozy. The students on both sides came out in force for this one. The Hawks had a massive student section dressed in St. Patrick’s Day regalia taking up two sections and the remaining fans filled the rest of one side of the loge. The SJP fans dressed all in white and also took up two sections full of students and filled an entire side of the loge as well with additional fans. We were ready for puck drop.

First period: In a matchup between two big, strong and physical teams, it’s no surprise that the first frame was not for the faint of heart. Both teams came out playing hard and finishing every check no matter the situation. Each team generated sparkling chances and neither team took uncalculated risks with the puck. But with that said, there were some turnovers as a result of good stick work. It would not take long to open the scoring in this one as Xaverian was whistled for an infraction and junior defender Aidan Holland set up sniper and PC lacrosse commit Tommy Sarni from the wing and he rocketed a shot through a tight window under the bar: nothing but roof: 1-0 SJP. The Eagles fans hadn’t finished high fiving and Xaverian evened the score. 39 seconds later senior captain Jack Silva created a 2-on-1 opportunity and held the puck deep into the zone before slipping it right on the tape of senior forward Braden O’Hara who finished back door: 1-1 all. From there, it was a tight-checking and treacherous road for anyone with the puck. Things got a little too rough as an SJP forward was flagged for a 5-minute major for an elbow up high which shifted momentum to Xaverian’s side. The Eagles did a terrific job killing the first 4:27…now they had to finish the job in the second period. On we go to the middle frame…

Second period: We saw more of the same in the second as we saw in the first and SJP was able to kill off the major to add a little momentum on their side to start. It turns out that momentum was short-lived as Xaverian senior Jake Curley flipped a puck on net from the goal line and it banked home off the SJP netminder: 2-1 Hawks. Xaverian was flying high early in the period but there was a momentum shift yet again when Holland leveled a Xaverian player at center ice and the Eagles perked up and jumped on the attack. Eight minutes in, SJP executed a slick break in, with a nice pass from the wing landing on Sarni’s stick but his point blank shot was stopped and produced a rebound in the slot that was banged home by junior forward Cole Blaeser: we were tied again at 2-2. Just under four minutes later the Eagles scored a big goal to take the lead, but it wasn’t without controversy. Junior forward Jimmy Ayres crashed the crease colliding with the Xaverian netminder and that led to a wide-open net putback by Holland. The Hawks pleaded their case to the refs for goaltender interference and there was a long conference to discuss the merits…but they decided the goal would stand: 3-2 Eagles. From there SJP put their foot on the gas pedal. Just under two minutes later they would pad their lead when Cole Blaeser found Sarni alone at the dot and he absolutely sniped a toe drag shot to make it 4-2 Eagles which is where we stand after 30 minutes of play. 15 minutes remain to crown a champion.

Third period: In the final frame, SJP looked to put the defensive clamps on the Hawks to finish this one off. In the first half of the period they continued to play physical and finish checks and found ways to keep the puck away from the Grade A areas around their net. They maintained tight gaps and a hard forecheck, and active sticks to boot. Xaverian did start to create more looks as the period wore on and ratcheted up the physicality as well. They made their final push with five minutes to go and created a couple of nice looks near the cage but Flagler baseball commit Peyton Palladino was equal to the task. The Hawks called their timeout with 2:25 remaining in the contest and pulled their goalie for the 6-on-5 advantage. After a close call that hit the post, the game was sealed with a 100-foot empty netter by who else? The senior captain Tommy Sarni: making it a hat trick on the night for him. And then for good measure he added a steal and one more ENG to make it four on the night. Your final score: SJP 6, Xaverian 2, the Eagles are D1 State Champions. Final shot totals: 31 SJP -15 Xaverian

Three Stars:

  1. F Tommy Sarni, St. John’s Prep
  2. D Aidan Holland, St. John’s Prep
  3. F Cole Blaeser, St. John’s Prep