BILLERICA — The adage that it is hard to beat a team three times in one season does not hold true for the Latin Academy boys’ hockey team.
The Dragons took down Boston City League rival East Boston for the third time Thursday night, prevailing, 3-2, in double overtime at Chelmsford Forum to advance to the Division 3 North final.
The winner came 1:17 into the second extra frame, when senior Nolan Rooney scored on a deflection on the East Boston doorstep. The senior was parked just to the right of the cage and tipped home a point shot from junior Donovan Lamonia.
“They tried to chip it out, but I saw my teammate there first so I just skated as hard as I could to the net,” said Rooney. “I just put my stick out there and I’m lucky it went in.”
Latin Academy (15-2-3) also beat East Boston (17-4-3) in dramatic fashion in the city championship game, rallying from a late 3-0 deficit to win, 4-3, in a shootout.
After leading for most of Thursday’s contest, the Dragons found themselves behind after the Jets struck for two goals in three minutes.
However, Conor Walsh gave Latin Academy an equalizer with 2:56 remaining in regulation. The senior took a pass in stride from classmate Ryan Lonergan and beat East Boston goalie Thomas Guarino five-hole.
Latin Academy opened the game with heavy pressure on the East Boston net. And while the Dragons only outshot the Jets, 12-8, in the opening frame, most of the top scoring chances belonged to Latin. Its persistence finally paid dividends with 2:20 remaining in the first, when senior captain John Connolly slammed one home for a 1-0 lead.
The Jets finally tied the score with 11:03 remaining in the third, on a one-timer from Ryan Tosto. Teammate Kyle Regan broke down the left side of the zone and curled behind the Latin Academy cage before firing a pass that Tosto slammed home.
Just over three minutes later, the Jets took the lead on a puck that slipped off the stick of Jake Giangiregorio and through the pads of Dragons goalie Brendan Mannion into the back of the net.
Both teams had scoring chances in both overtimes before Rooney’s tip-in gave the Dragons a berth in the sectional final Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at Chelmsford Forum.
“It took all the hard work, all the effort from the entire season,” said Latin Academy coach Dan Cuddy. “I give Eastie all the credit in the world. They’re a fantastic club, they pushed us to be better than we could be . . . I never saw a rivalry in high school hockey this intense.”
Lowell 2, Shawsheen Tech 1 — For the first time since 2006, the Red Raiders are headed to the Division 3 North final.
The Red Raiders’ defense turned back plenty of offensive chances that Shawsheen generated at Chelmsford Forum, while the others were left to goaltender Patrick Cote. The sophomore was stellar, making 29 saves – including 16 in the third.
Cote’s best save came in the second period, when the Rams had a prime chance to tie the score at 1. With Shawsheen on the penalty kill, senior Griffin Blanch took off on a breakaway with four minutes left in the period. The forward deked and went right, but Cote stoned Blanch with a pad save.
“Patrick was great. He’s been great for us all year,” said Lowell coach Brian Akashian. “But it’s a collective effort. It’s Patrick, it’s our defensemen, it’s everybody.”
Casey Sheehy opened the scoring for Lowell (14-9-0) just over four minutes into the game. While stationed behind the far post, the senior captain held the puck and tucked it through the pads of Shawsheen’s Bobby Mitza.
Four minutes into the third, Lowell doubled its lead when Thomas Hassett scored shorthanded. Hassett picked a Shawsheen defenseman’s pocket before skating in alone on goal. The sophomore forward deked to his right and slid the puck past a sprawling Mitza.
The Rams, however, rallied with a Jack Duggan goal with 1:42 remaining. Duggan’s one-timer from the slot beat Cote five-hole.
Despite the tally, and a late power play, Shawsheen was unable to complete the comeback as Lowell’s defense clamped down in the final minute.
“We didn’t have a great regular season, but we got better as the year went on and they’re just starting to come together at the right time,” Akashian said. “Three or four years ago they wrote in the Lowell Sun that we weren’t going to have a hockey program, and now we’re playing in the finals . . . it’s really satisfying for us.”
The Red Raiders will play Latin Academy on Sunday night (6:30) at Chelmsford Forum.David Souza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.