The Medford boys hockey team advanced to the Division 1 North quarterfinals for the first time in three years after taking out Greater Boston League foe Everett, 3-0, in a first round matchup on Wednesday night at Stoneham Arena.
The fourteenth-seeded Mustangs (9-12-0) earned their tournament berth by winning the GBL title with a 6-0 league record that included two wins over the Crimson Tide in the regular season.
They say you dont want to play a team three teams, said Medford head coach Steve DeBenedicitis. But the way the draw is and with how many strong teams there are in the north, I dont mind playing a team that we beat twice in the regular season.
Eight minutes into the game the Mustangs got what would turn out to be the game winner when Tyler Zizzo snapped a shot from the slot that trickled past Everett goalie Vinny Sottosanti for a 1-0 lead.
Jake Porrazzo followed up a scrum in front of Sottosanti and stuffed home a rebound on the left doorstep to put Medford up 2-0 with two minutes remaining in the opening period.
After a flat start, the Crimson Tide came out with some gusto in the second and put the Mustangs on their heels with a balanced, physical attack.
Defensively, Everett got stand out efforts from C.J. Sylvester and Ryan Considine, alongside Sottosanti (22 saves) who stood on his head to keep things 2-0 after two periods.
He was a difference maker tonight, said Everett head coach Alex Naumman of Sottosanti. If we could have just grabbed one or two rebounds we would have been right there.
As play wore on in the third period, the Crimson Tide were unable to figure out Medford goalie Jimmy Cecchini (25 saves) who was spectacular during a mid-period penalty kill in which he stopped five point-blank shots.
I was very happy for him, said DeBenedictis of his net minder. Its been a little bit of a struggle for us in net down the stretch. We got out of him what I know hes capable of tonight, and I was glad to see it.
Added Cecchini, We went in with a mindset that everyone was against us. We wanted to come out strong and it was great team effort.
Brett Mecrones picked up the third goal for Medford, wristing the puck home from the left circle with just three minutes remaining in the game.
The Mustangs will face the winner of Thursday nights game between Chelmsford and Arlington Catholic.
After recording only one win a year ago, the Crimson Tide had a monumental turn around, going 13-6-2 and earning their first tournament berth since 2003.
"We have a core of five seniors that really changed everything for us this year," said Naumann. "Im grateful for them because they got me back to this place and its fun to be here as a coach. Im very proud of every single one of them.