By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
After qualifying for the state tournament for the 39th consecutive season on February 12 (excluding 2020-2021) with a 4-1 victory over rival Holliston, the Westwood High School varsity boys hockey team returned to Canton Ice House on Wednesday to host Hopkinton.
Entering off back-to-back defeats to Ashland (5-4, OT) and Martha’s Vineyard (2-1) and holding a record of 7-9-0 (6-6 TVL), the Hillers traveled to Canton needing to win all of their final three games in order to reach 10 wins and qualify for the postseason. The already-postseason-bound Wolverines (11-7-1, 9-5-1) would’ve loved nothing more than to end the playoff hopes of their rivals from Hopkinton, but unfortunately, this did not come into fruition on Wednesday night.
Less than five minutes in, it appeared as if Westwood was going to strike first when senior center Matt Foley found himself all alone in front with Hopkinton goalie Jack Lang (19 saves). After deking to his backhand, Foley lifted a shot destined for the top right corner of the net, but was robbed by the glove of Lang to keep the game scoreless. The early robbery by Lang set the tone for the type of night it was going to be for the Wolverines. With 4:47 remaining in the period, Zach Conway was sent off for boarding to set up a Hopkinton power play. Hopkinton defenseman Andrew Morse capitalized 1:16 into the man advantage, creeping down from the point and burying a loose puck in front to make it 1-0 Hillers at the first intermission.
Following consecutive penalties at the beginning of the second period, Westwood killed off 1:06 of five-on-three time for Hopkinton and appeared to swing back momentum. However, Lang continued to impress in net for the Hillers, turning away all nine of the second period shots Westwood put on him. With a minute to play in the period, a turnover in the neutral zone led to an abbreviated odd-man rush the other way for Hopkinton. Junior forward Ryan Teitel buried a wrist shot from the high slot to double Hopkinton’s lead to 2-0 at the end of two periods.
Westwood opened the third period playing with a fire lit under them. Despite the Wolverines winning the battle in the physicality department and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Hopkinton’s net, Lang continually stood tall and preserved a 2-0 lead late. The best chance of the third period came with about five minutes to play, when Conway broke in on an odd-man rush and fired a shot-pass on net intended for Conor Jacobs. The puck deflected off the stick of Hopkinton defenseman Michael Berman and on net, but was shouldered aside by a sprawling Lang to keep the game 2-0.
With 2:57 to play in the game, Joey Carrazza delivered the dagger for Hopkinton by sniping a shot into the top-left corner of the net from distance to make it a three-goal game and sealing the 3-0 win for the Hillers.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.