Marblehead upends Westfield
Marblehead scored four goals in the second period and coasted to a 6-3 win over Westfield in the Division 3 state hockey championship yesterday at TD Garden.
Senior forward Chris McLeod had a goal and two assists in the winning effort as the Headers outshot Westfield, 42-19.
“This is Marblehead’s finest moment right now,’’ coach Bob Jackson said. “We had nine guys who have been here for four years. I can’t tell you the dedication, commitment, and enthusiasm they brought every day. Good things happen to good people, and we had some good kids.’’
Although Marblehead controlled play early in the first, it was the Bombers who scored first.
At the 5:12 mark, Marblehead junior forward Austin Haley attempted a pass in the defensive zone that Westfield junior forward Nick Sibilia intercepted and shot between goaltender Tony Cuzner’s pads.
Haley made up for his errant pass at 7:37, as he banged a rebound home off a McLeod shot to knot the game at 1.
Westfield regained the lead with one minute remaining in the period. Junior forward Kyle Levere took a long pass at the blue line and charged into the offensive zone on a breakaway. Cuzner broke up his initial attempt with a poke check, but the rebound went out to Cuzner’s right. Westfield’s Conner Laraway lifted the puck over a sprawled Cuzner to put the Bombers ahead, 2-1.
Marblehead erupted for four goals in the second period. The scoring started when Westfield’s Nate Barnes was whistled off for tripping. Marblehead converted halfway through the power play when Ryan Dempsey drew Nick Liberto to the left and then sent a blind pass from behind the net to McLeod, who was waiting backdoor and fired into a virtually empty net.
“It was a total team effort,’’ McLeod said. “I had one goal but I was just dishing it out. Those guys did a great job finishing on my little passes over to them.’’
Only 1:32 later, Marblehead grabbed the lead when the Headers won a faceoff and sent the puck back to the point, where senior Ben Koopman was stationed. The defenseman blasted a shot past Liberto to give the Headers a 3-2 lead.
The Bombers were called for a penalty 42 seconds later, and this time Marblehead took seven seconds to convert. McLeod took a pass from Jake Kulevich and shot into Liberto’s pads. Senior Hunter Graves hacked at the rebound and got Liberto out of position for Kulevich, who finished the play by knocking the puck past the busy netminder, putting the Headers up, 4-2.
The Headers’ frenzy quieted down for a few minutes before they struck again at 9:09, when Kulevich’s shot from the far left hash marks beat Liberto to give the Headers the 5-2 advantage.
Westfield narrowed its deficit to 5-3 at 13:51 when Matt Gagnon wristed a shot past Cuzner from right below the left faceoff dot, but the Bombers were still in a hole to end the period.
“It was killer,’’ Westfield coach C.B. Matthews Jr. said of the second period. “We gave up a couple soft ones. We didn’t do our job. They were strong in the offensive zone down low and we had trouble handling them.’’
The Headers added a goal 58 seconds into the third when Graves sent a wrister past Liberto to give Marblehead a 6-3 lead.