Hometown Weekly Staff
It came down to the final few games of the season, but with a pair of wins at this weekend’s Farleigh Dickinson tournament on Martha’s Vineyard the Westwood High boys’ hockey team extended its state record streak of tournament appearances to 34 consecutive seasons.
The Wolverines went into the tournament still needing three points but beat Lynnfield 4-0 and Weston 5-0, improving their record to 8-4-3 and securing a spot in the ultra-competitive Div. 2 South bracket.
Coming off a run to the state championship last year, the Wolverines had a number of pieces to replace, but over the course of the season head coach Mike Welby believes that Westwood has improved and can compete with its Div. 2 rivals.
“Our progress,” he said, “when we come out with the right mindset, is displayed in where were then to where we are now. In terms of wins and losses, the progress is there and we’re getting better.”
“They’ve got to continue to work hard in practice and keep executing in games.”
Welby was speaking after his team earned a 1-1 tie against Tri-Valley league champ Medfield at the Pirelli Veterans Memorial Rink last Wednesday. Senior defenseman Robert Messineo blasted a shot from the point early in the third period that canceled out Medfield’s second period opener.
“At the end of the second and we were down 1-0 and it could very easily have felt like it was a 3-0 game but we were just trying to tell the kids it’s a one-goal game,” said Welby.
“You just need one bounce, one shot and fortunately we got that shot early in the third period and it put them on their heels a little bit.”
The Wolverines turned the momentum of the game and outplayed Medfield for most of the period, but for a flurry of shots in the closing seconds, as the Warriors pressed for the winner.
Medfield coach Toby Carlow said. “In the third period, [Westwood] came out and played at another level. That’s a very well-coached team and they’re coming off a state championship…they know how to win hockey games and they just showed it.”
“They came out to win. They don’t care who we are. They came out to establish their game and they did it in the third period.”
It was an impressive point for the Wolverines, who had lost 2-1 to the Warriors in the first meeting, especially with tournament qualification not yet confirmed.
Welby explained, “Anytime you get a point against these guys or Medway…you look at the season and you’re like those are tough points to get, so anytime you get a point against these guys it’s a big point.”
When asked what turned the table, Welby credited senior goalie Ned Murphy (26 saves) and a change in mindset in the third period. The Wolverines became the aggressors and it made the difference.
“We didn’t sit back,” he said. “We started winning races to the puck, we started pressuring. Pressure causes turnovers.”
That momentum carried over into the weekend and the Wolverines will be back in their now familiar place in the state tournament and ensured that for the moment the Div. 2 state title still runs through Westwood.
Click HERE for more photos from the Medfield game.
Josh Perry is an Editor at Hometown Weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.