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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Following a 4-3 victory over Framingham in the first round, the No. 1-seeded Wellesley Raiders (16-3-2) hosted the No. 8-seeded Xaverian Hawks on Saturday night at Babson Skating Center for their quarterfinal round matchup in the Division I South playoffs.
The Hawks (11-6-5) entered Saturday’s tilt off the heels of a 6-2 victory over Mansfield last Wednesday night, thanks to a quad of third period goals by Matt Ryan, Matt Talarico, Mike Pitochelli, and Ty Marchi.
On Saturday, Ryan continued his hot play as the sophomore helped guide the Hawks to a 3-1 upset win over the Raiders by netting the go-ahead goal with 3:21 to play in the game, along with an empty-netter with under a minute to play to seal the victory.
An extremely physical first period that featured multiple open-ice hits by Xaverian’s Matt Joyce and sophomore forward Ryan Pomposelli got both student sections into it and upped the intensity. A pair of sprawling saves by Wellesley net-minder Andrew Hubbard towards the end of the first period kept the game scoreless at the first intermission.
The game remained scoreless midway through the second period despite both teams generating a good amount of offensive zone time.
With 6:19 remaining, Xaverian converted on its first power play opportunity of the evening when senior captain and defenseman Tommy Dugan slid a beautiful cross-ice pass onto the tape of Pomposelli, who fired home a one-timer from the right faceoff dot to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes after Pomposelli opened up the scoring for Xaverian, Henry Gould responded for Wellesley. After catching a pristine sneak-away pass from Darrald Webb up the seam, Gould came in on a breakaway and fired home a shot blocker-side of Xaverian goaltender Anthony Scott to tie the game at one for the Raiders at the second intermission.
The third period began with both teams playing rather conservatively. Eric Wainwright had the best opportunity of the first half of the third when the sophomore forward came in on a mini-breakaway for the Hawks with nine minutes to play, but was turned aside by the blocker of Hubbard, keeping the game tied at one.
With 3:21 to play, Matty Ryan put home the rebound off of a net-mouth scramble following a two-on-one by Ryan and Josh Barton, giving the Hawks a 2-1 lead and sending the Xaverian student section into a state of ecstasy.
The Hawks were assessed a penalty in the final minute of regulation and the Raiders yanked Hubbard out of the net for an extra attacker for a six-on-four advantage in an attempt to tie the game. Following a clear by senior captain Ross Vona on the ensuing faceoff, Ryan intercepted an attempted break-out pass by the Raiders and put home the game-sealing empty-net goal with 18 seconds to play to push the lead to 3-1.
At the time of print, the Hawks will travel to Bourne to take on Braintree in the South semifinals on Thursday.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.