The Wilmington boys hockey team has been making adjustments all season, and after Wednesday night's regular season finale against Tewksbury, the Wildcats are ready for the big race.
Head coach Steve Scanlon's charges traveled to play the rival Redmen and toppled them for the second straight year, earning a 3-1 victory. Next up the team waits for its bracket assignment, which will be announced on Saturday.
"We're as tuned up as we can be to head into the tournament," said Scanlon. "We're battle tested. We've been through a lot. We know there are a lot of good teams in the Division 2 tournament, and we'll enjoy it."
Jake Rogers gave the Wildcats a 1-0 edge with 4:40 left in the opening frame on the first of two assists from junior Cam Owens. Then, just 40 seconds into the middle period, Owens added a goal of his own to push the lead to 2-0.
Tewksbury cracked the scoreboard with 6:50 to play in the final period, but they never mounted a serious threat at the equalizer and Dalton Rolli added the late empty net goal to seal the victory.
Goalie Drew Foley wasn't tested often, Wilmington outshot the Redmen 41-16, but when he was he came up big. He stoned a breakaway chance by Tewksbury with Wilmington still holding its 1-0 lead in the early goings.
Last season the Wildcats were the No. 1 seed in the tournament, while this year the team is likely to end up in the middle of the pack. Still, Scanlon believes his team's difficult schedule will pay off come tournament time.
"We're going to sit back and relax a little bit, and recharge the batteries. Then we'll get going. I think we're ready," said Scanlon. "We fight the individual play a little bit, but when we get past that we can skate with anybody. I don't see anybody who is heads and tails above the other teams. It should be an interesting couple weeks."