Marlboro, MA – MassNZ was in the house tonight for Day 2 of the Round of 32 matchups in the D1 bracket. Tonight we saw 9-seed St. John’s Shrewsbury Pioneers taking on 24-seed Winchester Red and Black at New England Sports Center. The Pioneers student section arrived early and made their voices heard, even singing the National Anthem before puck drop. The Winchester parents section was vocal as well pregame and with that, we were ready to go.
In the first period, there was plenty of jump by both teams – it was a fast pace with a little nervous energy feeding the frenzy. To start, the Pioneers took control of the possession and it did not take them long to break the seal on this one. Just under three minutes in senior forward Sean Farrell fed junior forward Luke Gerardi as he cruised to the net and tapped a backhand shot past the outstretched Red and Black goalie: 1-0 SJS. Winchester pushed back hard on their first shift after the goal and sustained some pressure in the attacking zone. Just a minute and a half after SJS had opened the scoring, they would tie it up. Junior forward Beau Brissette caught a pass from sophomore Jon Garmey down low below the goal line and flipped a puck on net from a bad angle. It trickled home stunning the Pioneers: we were all tied at 1. It was an even period from then on but the majority of the Grade A looks came from the Pioneers. They would untie the game three minutes later as a great individual effort by Gerardi led to a self-pass off the left half wall and allowed him to cruise in and roof a shot to make it 2-1. That would be our score after 15 minutes of play.
In the middle frame, a power play was assessed at the buzzer giving the Red and Black the man advantage but ultimately the Pioneers would capitalize. Just over a minute into the period, a steal in the attacking zone by sophomore Daniel Menyalkin led to a centering feed to a wide-open sophomore forward Dominic Reidy to make it 3-1 Pioneers. SJS would ride that momentum for the next few minutes but Winchester continued to push back with smart plays pushing the puck to space. That led to junior forward David Strong winning a race off the left wing and cutting to the middle, firing one that was deflected behind the net off the goalie’s pad. It was picked up by freshman Caiden Brady who fired it on net from a negative angle and yet again the Red and Black scored off a shot from behind the cage: 3-2 was our score. Play stayed largely even until late in the frame when the momentum shifted. A Winchester forward was called for a 5-minute major for boarding and that gave SJS all the opportunity they would need. With a minute to go, a shot fired from the point by senior captain Andrew Brown was masterfully deflected in front by Reidy for his second of the period. 4-2 would be our score headed to the final stanza.
In the third period, SJS took the momentum and ran with it as just under two minutes into the frame they would pad their lead. Senior defenseman Scott Arthur fired a shot from the point that Reidy looked to tip on net, but instead it took a wicked ricochet and banged off the end boards right to the stick of senior forward Zachary Jennings who was waiting at the left post: 5-2 Pioneers. From there, the Pioneers owned much of the possession, but Winchester was still able to create chances off the rush and get the puck deep a couple of times which led to nervous moments for SJS. One of those moments led to a goal 10 minutes in when senior forward Kevin Bertocci made a quick one-touch pass down low to Luke Sardone, who beat the goalie to the left post and popped it home to make it 5-3. Winchester would create a couple of additional chances with their goalie pulled from the two-minute mark onward but none would get past Ryan Melanson in net for the Pioneers. 5-3 was your final score and the Pioneers would advance to face Arlington Catholic on Sunday, March 5 back at NESC at 7:30pm in the Sweet 16 of the D1 bracket.
- F Dominic Reidy, St. John’s Shrewsbury
- F Luke Gerardi, St. John’s Shrewsbury
- F Daniel Menyalkin, St. John’s Shrewsbury