The Westfield boys’ hockey team put an end to a memorable Swampscott season Sunday afternoon, with a 4-1 win over a shorthanded Big Blue squad in the Division 3 state final at TD Garden.
Swampscott was dealt a blow prior to the game, when it learned Saturday that Northeastern Conference South Division MVP Trevor Massey (22 points, 4 goals, 18 assists this season) and sophomore forward Ryan Cresta (15 points, 7 goals, 8 assists) would be sidelined for MIAA rule violations stemming from an alcohol-related incident at a school dance Friday.
Despite the loss and the circumstances surrounding it, the season remained a historic one for Swampscott. The Big Blue (19-6-0) recorded their first postseason win since 1969 to open tournament play (over St. Joseph Prep) and went on to earn a trip to TD Garden, claiming the school’s first sectional title along the way.
“[The team] took this loss hard,” said Swampscott coach Gino Faia. “I just tried to tell them that we had a history-making season — 19 wins, the North title, the EMass title, [our] first-ever state final appearance — they have a lot to be proud of.”
Faia said he was pleased with the effort his team showed, given what they’ve been through. He also noted that practice on Saturday was the best and most intense the team had all season.
“[The suspended players] weren’t in the lineup, there’s nothing we could do about it,” he said. “The guys that were here today played their hearts out. That’s all we could ask.”
After falling behind, 3-0, in the first two periods, the Big Blue gained some momentum when senior forward Robert Serino converted a wraparound goal with 8:55 to play in the third. However, they couldn’t find a way to put another puck past Westfield goaltender Nick Liberto (22 saves).
“Normally our third period has been our best period all season long,” said Faia. “I told them we’ve got to get the one goal and then see what happens. They usually feed off those goals … but we just kind of ran out of time there.
“I couldn’t have been any more proud than I was of these guys,” Faia continued. “That third period, once again, showed the character of the team. We don’t quit, they didn’t give up and they battled to the end.”
The Bombers (19-3-2), who have won seven Western Mass. titles since 2002, added an empty-netter in the final seconds to cap their third state championship in program history (the others came in 2003 and 2008).
Senior forward Adam Collier, who had two goals and an assist, led the Bombers. He entered the postseason with just 8 points (three goals) on the season.
Westfield’s leading scorer, senior forward Sean Spohr, had three assists. Swampscott freshman netminder Tristan Bradley finished with 19 saves.
Swampscott fell to 2-5 in games without Massey this season (his missed six because of an early-season injury), but the loss did little to dampen Faia’s belief that the program is moving in the right direction.
“I think with all the excitement in the town that any of the guys that are considering going elsewhere will take a hard look at it,” he said. “All they have to do is ask these guys about the experience they just had. I’m sure it’s going to be a big positive for the program.”