BILLERICA — Before the puck had even dropped in Wednesday night’s Division 3 state hockey semifinal at Chelmsford Forum, Medway fans had picked their target.
“Tristan! Tristan!” they chanted over and over again at Swampscott freshman goalie Tristan Bradley. During warm-ups they sent up a roaring cheer for each puck that squirted past the young netminder.
However, with the game tied, 3-3, in overtime, Bradley came up with the four key stops. Freshman forward Noah Maercklein then scored the winning goal 3:35 into the extra frame.
“I could hear [the Medway crowd],” said Bradley, who finished with 29 saves. “They were yelling the whole game, but it just got me more into the game. This was the biggest one I’ve ever played in in my life.”
Maercklein’s goal gave Swampscott , which rallied from a goal down in the third period, the 4-3 win and the program’s first trip to play at TD Garden on Sunday against the winner of Thursday’s game between Wachusett and Westfield.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Swampscott coach Gino Faia. “I can’t be more happy for the guys and the way they’ve worked all year long. We had a record-breaking Swampscott season and, these guys, they just never quit and once again tonight they showed it.”
The Big Blue (19-5-0) got third-period power play goals from Nunzio Morretti and Maercklein to take a 2-1 lead with 8:53 to play.
The Mustangs (19-3-3) then tied the game on a Josh O’Toole goal, only to see Swampscott again pull ahead on a Corey Carmody strike.
With just 58 seconds remaining in regulation and its goalie, Mike Narducci (25 saves), pulled, the Mustangs again drew even when Bobby Schindler batted home a puck in front of the net to send the game into overtime.
Carmody set up the winner. The senior stole the puck and carried it deep into the Mustangs zone before crossing it to a streaking Maercklein for the one-timer.
“They were going down on the two-on-one and I knew that Corey was looking to pass and you can’t have a better guy to finish than Noah [Maercklein],” said Faia. “I knew it was going in as soon as I saw him make the pass.”
After the goal, the Swampscott players mobbed Maercklein and Bradley at center ice.
As for the Big Blue fans?
Their favorite chant of the night was, “We love Tristan!”