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Hawks fight cancer, Monturio salvages tie

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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

Two common phrases echoed throughout the halls of Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood are to “be a man of integrity,” and to “respond to the call for help.” On Saturday, the Xaverian varsity hockey team followed both of these directives that are seemingly instilled into every product that leaves 800 Clapboardtree Street with a diploma.

The Hawks (6-6-5, 1-4-3) welcomed in long-time Catholic Conference rival Malden Catholic to Canton Ice House for “Hockey Fights Cancer” night. Sporting some special edition “Hockey Fights Cancer” purple uniforms, the Hawks took to the ice with the obvious goal of earning points in the standings.

However, hockey was not the only thing on the minds of the Xaverian players and coaches.

Just recently, Reo Todesca, mother of Xaverian assistant coach Paul Todesca, passed away after a long and resilient battle with cancer. To help honor Todesca’s memory and her fight against this terrible disease, the Hawks and Lancers (4-8-3, 2-5-1) paid tribute with a moment of silence just before puck drop.

“There were several distractions that we had to deal with before puck drop,” said Xaverian junior defenseman and Dorchester native Matt Joyce. “Between preparing for a successful night for the Todesca family, wearing purple uniforms, and playing in a packed barn full of support, we had to have the right mindset for the game itself.”

Following the moment of silence, it was all business for Dave Spinale’s boys, and the Hawks came out with a step to their game.

“This was a huge game for,” said Joyce. “We’re battling for points in order to play in March, so once the puck dropped, we were 100 percent focused on getting some points.”

Less than three minutes in, freshman sensation Robbie Barletta made a sweet little toe-drag move around an MC defenseman and came in on a mini-breakaway. Barletta deked to the backhand and just as the Walpole native was about to tuck the puck home for a 1-0 Xaverian lead, a back-checking Lancer defenseman knocked the puck away into the corner, keeping the game scoreless. Six minutes after the missed chance, however, Barletta found redemption as the freshman fired home a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.

A little under two minutes after Barletta’s game-opening goal with 7:10 to play, Malden Catholic evened the game at one by stuffing home a rebound by an outstretched A.J. Scott with 5:15 to play. After tying the game at one, Malden Catholic began to pick up its intensity and generated several grade-A scoring chances. Thankfully for the Hawks, Scott made a series of phenomenal saves, but maybe none better than his left-pad stuff on MC’s Ryan Noonan on the doorstep with 1:31 to play to keep the game 1-1 at the first intermission.

Following the break, Xaverian’s penalty killers were relied upon as MC began the period on the power play. The Hawks killed off the first minute of the power play, but while doing so lost starting goaltender A.J. Scott for the remainder of the period after the junior made a kick save with his left skate. Unfortunately for Scott, the puck completely shattered his skate blade and the bottom of his boot, forcing fellow junior goaltender James Herring to come off the bench in relief. Despite not having any warm-up, Herring stepped up big and made several critical saves to allow the Hawks to kill of the remainder of the penalty.

With 12:30 to play, Xaverian assistant captain Josh Barton flew in on a breakaway. Barton’s initial shot was stuffed by the right pad by MC goaltender Matthew Johnson, but while digging for a rebound, Barton drew a cross-checking penalty on the Lancers after taking a cross-check to the back of the head, setting up a Hawk power play.

After some swift puck movement by the Hawks during the first minute of the power play, Malden Catholic cleared the zone and got a change. On the ensuing breakout, the Lancers forced a turnover in the Xaverian end and Colin Nestor fired home a shorthanded goal on a mini-breakaway to give Malden Catholic its first lead of the hockey game at 2-1. Xaverian was unable to capitalize during the remainder of the power play, but gained back some significant momentum when Herring made a huge glove save with a little over a minute to play in the period, keeping the game 2-1 in favor of MC at the second intermission.

Less than two minutes into the third period, the Lancers extended their lead to 3-1 after banging home a rebound on a net-mouth scramble, putting the Hawks’ backs up against the wall. Just three minutes later, however, with 9:01 to play, Josh Barton cut the deficit to 3-2 for the Hawks after the junior captain capped off a nice little three-on-two play with Ryan Pomposelli and Matt Ryan with a tap-in on the doorstep.

With four minutes to play and the Hawks still down a goal, C.J. Monturio netted the equalizer when the freshman forward clapped home a one-time feed by senior forward Tyler Sullivan, sending the Hawks’ bench and the Xaverian student section into a frenzy. The Hawks and Lancers were unable to net a tiebreaking goal in the final four minutes, and the game ended at 3-3.

“After we were down after two periods, we were desperate for points. Going down 3-1 in the third, we looked at ourselves and realized what we were playing for - not only for ourselves but for the Todesca family,” said Matt Joyce. “We showed some pride in who we are and battled as hard as we could to get the point. It was a very emotional atmosphere for Pauly as he sincerely appreciated all the support from the team and the the people who came for the vent. We stayed focused throughout the whole 45 minutes and battled hard for the point we got.”

With Catholic Conference play all wrapped up, the Hawks will try and bulk up their tournament resume and when Xaverian hosts Marshfield on February 8 at Canton Ice House.

For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at

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