The 2011-2012 high school hockey season concludes Sunday with six state final matchups at TD Garden beginning at 9 a.m.
From O’Brien Rink to Gallo Arena to Fenway Park, and all the barns in between, the road to the Garden began in December and all the blood, sweat and broken sticks along the way have paid off for 12 teams who will look to cap their dream seasons with a state title on the home ice of the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Here is a primer to the day’s action:
Division 1A: BC High (13-6-5) vs. Malden Catholic (19-1-4), 6 p.m. For the fourth time this season these two Catholic Conference heavyweights will go toe-to-toe. BC High has yet to fully penetrate the top-seeded Lancers’ armor, but a late January tie gives it tons of confidence heading into this one. Look for the Eagles to try and get sophomore playmaker Tom Besinger the puck often. Malden Catholic has been using its young talent with freshman Ara Nazarian’s stock skyrocketing after his five goals in the first four games of the Super 8. The Lancers will need their top line to come through and with a leader such as Brendan Collier, they could collect a Super 8 title for the second straight season.
Division 1: Milton (19-3-3) vs. Burlington (17-2-6), 8:15 p.m. Milton is unbeaten in its last 12 games. The Wildcats are a well balanced team and their top line of Paul Curran, Brian Higgins and Terrance Walsh has accounted for 64 goals this season. Jay Hankard’s 2.77 goals against average is deceivingly high. The senior netminder has come to play when it’s mattered most, allowing only two goals in three postseason games. Burlington has been steamrolling teams since losing its Super 8 play-in game. The Red Devils have 13 goals in their last three games and they use an array of weapons up front, including C.J. Grinell and Trevor Cimino.
Division 2: Franklin (19-2-3) vs. Wilmington (15-4-5), 3:30 p.m. Franklin left the Garden ice last season as the runners-up, falling to Tewksbury in an overtime heartbreaker. The Panthers will look to build off of the experience of last season’s trip and an experienced defensive unit will lead the way after yielding only 36 goals. Twenty-plus goal scorers Nick Bertoni (25) and Cam Curley (24) are the catalysts of the Panthers offense. Wilmington brings a ton of senior leadership to the ice, led by captain Dalton Rolli who scored the winner in the semifinal against Winthrop. Sophomore goalie Drew Foley boasts a 1.69 goals against average with six shutouts.
Division 3: Medway (19-6-1) vs. Hudson (21-1-1), 1:30 p.m. Medway’s Jake O’Rourke has a state-best 43 goals, accounting for 44 percent of his team’s offensive output. He will need to add to that tally for the Mustangs. Hudson comes to the Garden winners of its last 12 games, a span in which it outscored opponents, 53-19. The Hawks boast seven double-digit scorers and goalie Shane Barry allowed only 42 goals. These teams played Dec. 28 and Hudson skated away with a 3-1 victory.
Division 1: St. Mary’s (21-3-1) vs. Arlington Catholic (20-3-1), 9 a.m. St. Mary’s is a four-time Division 1 state champion. Last season’s hiccup in a 3-2 shootout loss in the quarterfinals serves as perfect motivation. The Spartans continue to mark up the record books with the most state championships, most shutouts in a season and most perfect seasons. Austin Prep transfer Kaleigh Finigan (30 goals) has been a thorn in Arlington Catholic’s net, notching five goals in a pair of regular season wins, 5-2 and 4-2 in the same week. And she is not the only one. Alison Butler (61 points) has figured out Arlington Catholic’s net, scoring three goals.
Division 2: Duxbury (20-0-1) vs. Falmouth (16-5-1), 11 a.m. Duxbury has had one of the strongest performances in the state, the only team to remain undefeated for its No. 1 spot in the Top 20. The defending Division 2 champion has a loaded offense led by Hannah Murphy (49 points) and Lily Connolly (40 points) and an even stronger force between the pipes with goaltender Rachel Myette allowing only 19 goals this season (0.87 GAA). Falmouth’s last tournament appearance was in 2009 losing, 3-2, in the preliminary.