HINGHAM –– Hingham goaltender Luke McLellan was off his angle.
Outstretched at the top of the crease, the senior stuck out his left pad in desperation, thwarting an outstanding chance from the congestion the Catholic Memorial hockey team had assembled in front of the net. With seven and a half minutes to play, and the Harbormen clinging to a one-goal lead, the Knights kept up their unrelenting pressure on McLellan in search of an equalizer.
But McLellan made 27 saves, none bigger than the third-period pad stop he made to deliver third-ranked Hingham a 3-1 nonleague victory over No. 2 Catholic Memorial at Pilgrim Arena.
The victory was the 600th overall for coach Tony Messina in his 39 seasons on the bench, the first 24 as an assistant under Garrett Reagan. A 1980 Hingham graduate who went onto play at the University of Vermont, Messina has a 223-92-43 record in 15 years. The Harbormen are 600-227-89 in his tenure.
“Nothing fazes him,” Messina said of McLellan. “I don’t know if he knows the weight of the situation, but he does a great job of focusing on what he has to do. He made some great saves at some really timely points.”
After senior Joe Hennessey rifled a wrister top-corner to put the Harbormen ahead in the first period, sophomore Tyler Hamilton answered back for the Knights (14-2-0).
Junior Travis Rugg slotted an early second-period tally, a sequence that started from behind the Harbormen bench to electrify Pilgrim Arena. A strong breakout led to a controlled zone entry and Connor Lasch found Rugg across the crease, who pulled the puck to his backhand and punched it into the open net.
“The second period, the goal at the start helped and I got back into a rhythm after,” said McLellan.
The win marked the sixth in a row for the Harbormen (11-1-4). In front of a capacity crowd, a defense led by senior captain Chase McKenna made plays under pressure, locating outlet passes and limiting turnovers. Senior captain Ace Concannon, who added an empty-net goal, provided excellent positional play, disrupting passing lanes as the high forward in the forecheck.
“Obviously, the playoffs, that’s a whole different game when it comes around,” said McKenna. “During the season, St. John’s Prep, Catholic Memorial, those are definitely the games that you mark on your calendar.”
“They’re up to the task,” echoed Messina. “They were ready to go. Anytime that we play anyone in this building, we think we can win. They got a lot of confidence right now.”
Cam Kerry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.