Win Streak Continues for Boys Hockey [VIDEO]
In a battle of defending state champions, it was Wilmington that toppled Burlington by a 3-1 margin on Saturday.
Drew Foley had an assist in preserving Wilmington’s 2-1 third period lead on Saturday against defending Division 1 state champion Burlington. Then he notched an assist on the goal that sealed the Wildcats’ victory.
With Wilmington clinging to a one goal lead, Foley used his right pad to shut down a quick shot from Red Devil senior Liam Cronin with 57 seconds remaining. Just 16 seconds later, Foley notched an assist after he found Cam Owens on the breakaway. Owens slid the puck to Jake Rogers, who scored the empty net goal that sealed the 3-1 Wilmington victory.
“We sometimes take for granted how many good saves he makes in a game,” said head coach Steve Scanlon. “The kids rely too much on him at times to make those big saves. But that was a 10-bell save. That’s the game-tying goal right there. We’re fortunate to have him. He’s a good goalie.”
The Wildcats opened the scoring with a perfectly executed breakaway at the 4:06 mark of the first period.
Rogers started the dash up ice and shoveled the puck to Brendan McDonough, who found a streaking Owens on the left side. Owens fired the puck into the back of the net to give his team the lead.
Burlington tied the game less than two minutes later, however, and the game went into the first intermission tied.
About five minutes into the second period, Rogers put home a rebound of an Owens shot and it appeared the Wildcats had a 2-1 edge. But the referee had blown the play dead too quickly, thinking the puck was in the grasp of the Burlington goalie when it was actually moving through the crease.
Wilmington overcame the unlucky break thanks to a lucky score with just 1:04 left in the second frame. Austin O’Neal, standing behind the goal along the boards, flicked the puck in an effort to find an open teammate. Instead, the puck ricocheted into the net for O’Neal’s first varsity goal, giving the Wildcats a 2-1 advantage.
The win has Wilmington comfortably in first place in the Middlesex League with a record of 8-1 overall, 6-1 in league play. Despite an eight-game winning streak, however, Scanlon sees room for improvement.
“I think we can play better,” said Scanlon. “Some of our work ethic has been lost. We used to do the extra things that get you over the top in games, and some of that has been lacking at times during the season.”
Scanlon’s charges will need to play at their highest level on Monday at 6 p.m. when they take on Malden Catholic on the road. It’s a game Scanlon scheduled in an effort to try and jolt his team beyond the Division 2 tournament and into the Super 8 conversation. Malden Catholic is the defending Super 8 champion.
“We’ve been on that Super 8 watch list for a couple of years now, so we’re reaching to play arguably one of the best programs in New England. It’s a little bit of a leap, but we have to challenge ourselves if we want to see if we belong in that group of one of the top ten best teams in the state… It’s a big challenge, but also a big opportunity for us. So we’re looking forward to it.”