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Goal of a lifetime for Wentworth hockey freshman McLaughlin

SEAN MCLAUGHLIN

McLaughlin makes penalty pay off

A penalty shot in sudden-death overtime of a championship game?

“A once-in-a-lifetime thing,’’ said Billerica’s Sean McLaughlin, a freshman forward on the men’s hockey team at Wentworth.

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McLaughlin was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime in Saturday’s ECAC Northeast title game against Curry at Matthews Arena, and converted the game’s only goal to send Wentworth to the NCAA Division 3 tournament.

In a scoreless game, on his second shift of the extra session, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound McLaughlin scrambled for the puck and chipped it past a Curry defenseman and tried to finish off the play. However, he was hooked and the referee whistled a penalty.

“He had a partial breakaway and got hauled down,’’ said Wentworth head coach R.J. Tolan. “It was pretty cut and dry.’’

The Leopards were presented with an option - either accept a two-minute power play, or give McLaughlin (one goal this season) a penalty shot.

“We figured why not try to end it there. No pressure or anything for a guy with only one goal,’’ said Tolan with a laugh. “We told him all year that when he scored it was going to be a big one. He saved it for the perfect time.’’

McLaughlin said, “It was a lot of pressure, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.’’

The Leopards were in their fourth conference final in the last six years under Tolan, but they had lost the previous three by a goal each time. That history added to the pressure riding on McLaughlin’s stick.

“I couldn’t watch it; I just felt my assistant grab me so I figured he scored,’’ said Tolan. “It was like a scene out of ‘Mighty Ducks.’ ’’

In the movie, character Charlie Conway went with his “triple deke’’ move. McLaughlin had his move, too, but it went a bit awry.

“I got in close and went for the shot, but I didn’t have it so I went for the deke but lost the puck a bit and popped it up over the goalie’s shoulder,’’ he said. “I guess I got a little bit lucky.’’

McLaughlin played youth hockey in Billerica, but with aspirations to play at the collegiate level he chose to play juniors, not high school. “It was just a better level of hockey,’’ he said.

Playing with the Marlborough-based Junior Bruins of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, the self-described “defensive minded two-way player’’ caught the attention of college coaches, including Tolan, who could offer an engineering program and proximity to home.

“I’m pretty lucky to have him. He has speed and toughness and is real blue-collar,’’ said Tolan. “He’s a tremendous player whether he scores 20 goals or one. He has a good shot and it’s just a matter of time before the goals come.’’

McLaughlin has played in all 27 games this season, contributing the two goals plus five assists from his spot on the third line.

Wentworth (20-6-1) played at Plymouth State (17-6-3) in the first round of the Division 3 tournament Wednesday night.

“We are all looking forward to it; I’m excited to go play another game,’’ he said.

Campus standouts on track, court

Chelmsford’s Chris Brown, a senior at Brandeis, is seeded third in the mile for this weekend’s NCAA Division 3 Indoor Track & Field championships at Grinnell College. Brown will be competing in his fourth career NCAA championship but his first for indoor track, having reached three straight Division 3 cross-country meets. His best time of the season came on Feb. 10 at the Boston University Valentine Invitational, when he ran 4:05.98. That was the second-fastest mile time in school history and is believed to be one of the 10 fastest in Division 3 indoor track and field history. The preliminary heats for the men’s mile will be held Friday. . . .

Somerville’s Jessica Masse, a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, was named Little East Conference Women’s Field Athlete of the Week after finishing third in the shot put (41 feet, 5 inches) at the ECAC meet. . . .

Winthrop’s Courtney Finn was stellar for the Bentley women’s basketball team last weekend in its run to the Northeast-10 Conference tournament championship. The junior guard delivered 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in a 67-53 quarterfinal win over American International; 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals in a 69-65 double-overtime victory over Franklin Pierce in the semis; and then 16 points and 5 rebounds in the title game, a 79-52 romp over Southern Connecticut on Sunday. The 5-9 Finn, the all-time leading scorer at Winthrop High with 1,747 points, was named to the all-tournament team. Bentley (27-3), which is ranked fifth nationally, will host District of Columbia Friday at 6 in the Division 2 East Regional quarterfinals.

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