Bill Greene / Globe Staff
Mike Denehy saved his ticket from last year’s Division 2 state final when Canton lost to Newburyport, 4-3 in overtime. He was only in eighth-grade, not yet acclimated with the hockey tradition that the town of Canton is known for.
But when Denehy found the puck drop to him in front of the net in this year’s final, a rematch between the two teams, the freshman converted. Denehy’s goal - just his second of the season - was the game-winning score as Canton captured the town’s first-ever state title, 4-2 over Newburyport.
“Once it soaks in, they’re going to realize what they just did,” said Bulldogs’ coach Brian Shuman. “It will be soaking in next week and 30 years from now. They’ll really take this in and realize what they’ve done.”
With added incentive from their loss in last year’s final, the Bulldogs exhibited a style of play full of big hits and an aggressive forecheck.
“They called themselves the toughest team in the state and we used that as motivation,” Shuman said. “We tried to match them in physicality and we did that.”
Canton jumped to an early lead in the fourth minute when freshman Nick O’Connor lifted a rebound over Newburyport goalie Anthony Federico. Later in the period, Junior Greg Boyd slotted a pass from freshman Kyle Leavitt in the top-right corner for Canton ’s second goal.
The Bulldogs outshot their opponent 27-9 in the first 30 minutes as Newburyport struggled to produce on the offensive end.
Clippers senior Derek Freeman took over the goal-scoring duties for his team, using the boards to bounce a pass to himself and skate around two Canton defenders before scoring Newburyport’s first goal. Freeman scored twice, assisted on both from junior William Boudreau, but it wasn’t enough as Canton ripped off 37 shots on Federico.
Final score: Canton 4, Newburyport 2.
Canton gets revenge on Newburyport, winning a hard-fought match with big stops from each team's keeper throughout the game. Final shot total: Canton 38, Newburyport 19
Canton empty-net goal, lead 4-2.
Kevin Rooney sealed the deal with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Canton power play killed, roles reversed now as Malloy is in the box for roughing with 3:30 left to play.
Kyle Mcelroy nearly converted for his team-leading 32nd point of the season following a two-on-one opportunity for Newburyport, but Donaruma made a big save to keep the Bulldogs in the lead. Canton now on the power play with just over five minutes remaining.
Federico made a Superman-effort, sprawling out at full-length to stop Denehy's open look at a rebound chance. He's made 27 saves so far.
End of second period: Canton leads 3-2.
The Clippers made the most of their opportunities, playing even hockey in the period despite being out-shot by Canton, 13-4. Total shots: Canton 27, Newburyport 10.
Newburyport goal, down 3-2.
Just as I commented on Newburyport's lack of offense, Freeman received an immaculate outlet pass from Boudreau and converted on the open opportunity, slotting one in the stick-side lower corner for his second goal of the afternoon.
The Clippers survived two consecutive penalties but have had slim offensive chances throughout the period off just three shots-on-goal.
O'Connor intercepted a lose puck and carried it in for a breakaway but was denied by a pad-save from Federico.
Canton goal, up 3-1.
Freshman Mike Denehy was in the right spot at the right time, as a shot from Matt Malloy leaked through the pads of Newburyport goalie Anthony Federico and Denehy buried the opportunity.
End of first period: Canton leads 2-1.
The Bulldogs out-shot their opponent 14-6 and head into the first intermission with the early lead.
Canton goal, up 2-1.
Just 45 seconds later, Kyle Leavitt fed Greg Boyd in front of the net, leaving a wide-open look at the goal that Boyd didn't miss. So much for a defensive battle...
Newburyport goal, 1-1.
A great individual effort from Derek Freeman, who used the boards to bounce a pass to himself and slide one through the five-hole of Canton goalie Jon Donaruma.
There are several mouth guards laying all over the ice, as this game has proved to be a brutal one early on.
Canton goal, up 1-0.
Nick O'Connor put away a rebound in front of the net to give the Bulldogs the early lead.
The early minutes included several big hits, and Ryan Bogosian (Canton) received the game's first penalty for interference. Newburyport on the power play.
Newburyport (18-4-2) is getting ready to defend its state title at the TD Garden, playing Canton (18-3-2) in a rematch of last year's final.
Both boast strong goaltenders in Anthony Federico (junior, Newburyport) and Jon Donaruma (senior, Canton), so we should be in for a defensive battle.
Updates will be posted throughout the game.
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