Ken Hodge made 20 saves for the Newburyport boys’ hockey team, but none were bigger than the two stops the senior goaltender made against Lynnfield’s power play late in the third period.
With the game on the line, Hodge helped erase a tripping penalty on junior forward Thomas Greene with 5:26 left and backstopped the Clippers to a 2-0 Cape Ann League victory on Saturday at Henry Graf Jr. Memorial Skating Rink in Newburyport.
The 16th-ranked Clippers (10-1-5, 8-0-2) can clinch the league title with a win or a tie against Masconomet on Wednesday, or a Lynnfield loss.
“That was a huge moment,” Hodge said of the late penalty kill. “That was probably the turning point of the third period. They were building a little bit of momentum there, trying to get a goal.
“Obviously they’re fighting for their lives in this game. We had to bear down, fight, just get everyone out in front of the net, block shots. We did a really good job of that.”
After Hodge thwarted the Pioneers (9-3-1) from capitalizing on the man advantage late in the game, Clippers, who relied upon their physical forecheck to stymie Lynnfield’s offense, held on to preserve their stellar netminder’s shutout.
“I thought we could have had a couple goals there in the first period,” said Newburyport coach Paul Yameen. “I thought if we were a little hungrier around the net we could have had a couple goals. You let a good team hang around, it usually doesn’t end too well.”
Both teams battled through a physical, tight-checking first period of play that ended in a scoreless stalemate, with Hodge turning away 12 shots by the Pioneers. In the second period, the Clippers broke through when senior forward Cole Spence beat junior Aidan Kelly (19 saves) with a “lucky goal” that ricocheted off the Lynnfield goalie’s skate in heavy traffic at 1:30.
“I wasn’t even trying to score,” Spence said. “I was trying to make a pass to my teammate backdoor but [it] hit off [Kelly’s] foot. Just a lucky goal.”
After Patrick Leary drew a tripping penalty that put a screeching halt to the Pioneers’ momentum, senior forward Owen Bradbury sealed the outcome — and the Cape Ann League title — with his empty-net goal with 1.3 seconds left.
“It seems like everybody in our league, we always get their best,” said Yameen, whose team remained unbeaten (8-0-2) in Cape Ann play. “If you don’t come to play, you’re not going to like the results. I give Lynnfield credit. They played hard.
“It was a good battle; a good hockey game.”
Wilmington 3, Melrose 2 — Goalie Anthony Cuozzo made 31 saves for the Wildcats (6-7-0).
Swampscott 9, Everett 1 — Senior Steve Santanello became the ninth Big Blue player to net 100 career points, a milestone he shares with his father, Dan.
Notre Dame (Hingham) 3, Duxbury 2 — Junior Alexa Graziano overcame a nagging case of vertigo that hampered her the past few weeks to score her first high school hat trick, sparking the sixth-ranked Cougars (8-4-1) past the fourth-ranked Dragons (12-2-1) at the Bog in Kingston.
Graziano scored early in the first period and twice late in the second. Sophomore goalie Erin Murray made 32 saves for NDA, including some timely stops in the final minutes, as Duxbury, which outshot the Cougars, 34-15, had a 10-game winning streak snapped.
“Those two alone give us a chance to win every night,” NDA head coach Chris Marshall said of Graziano and Murray.
Dexter Southfield 4, Middlesex 1— Junior forward Karly Aguirre recorded two goals and two assists for host Dexter Southfield (6-9-1).
Division 1 Duals
Wrestling at 145 pounds, Franklin senior Mike Racca had three pins to power the Panthers in the Division 1 Coaches Duals in front of his home crowd on Saturday afternoon.
Franklin dominated the day, defeating Chelmsford, 53-13, in the finals. Chelmsford jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but Franklin took control after that.
Racca, who was penciled into the middle of Franklin’s lineup, pushed the lead to 23-7 with a pin as the Panthers never looked back.
“We’ve waited so long for this, we’ve worked so hard for countless hours for this,” said Racca, who lifted the trophy while his teammates lifted him. “I’ve never felt so good and happy in my life.”
Racca, who said it was his objective to score six points in every match, achieved that goal, beginning with a convincing 64-9 victory over Lawrence in the quarterfinals.
“Mikey Racca had a key match that kept our roll going, and beat a kid that beat him earlier in the year,” said Franklin coach Carmine Colace, referring to Racca’s victory over Achilles Gikas of St. John’s Prep in the semifinals. “They got a little flat after that, and we got pumped up.”
Division 2 Duals
In North Andover, Central Catholic took down top-seeded North Attleboro in the finals to take home the dual meet state title. With three matches to go, and the Raiders trailing the Rockeeters, 30-24, sophomore Mikey Glynn picked up the pin at 106 pounds to tie things up. Junior Greg Spero’s 9-5 win at 113 pounds gave Central Catholic a 33-30 lead, and sophomore Nate Vachon clinched the title win with a 10-8 victory at 120 pounds.
Glynn finished with three pins on the day, helping to pace the Raiders (18-2).
Division 3 Duals
At Ashland, top-seeded Foxboro defeated second-seeded Dedham in the finals, 30-27, to repeat as state dual meet champions.
The dual came down to the final matchas 113-pound junior Adam Lanctot broke a 27-27 tie with a a 6-0 decision to clinch the title for the Warriors.