LOWELL — Seventh-seeded Tewksbury scored three goals in the opening seven minutes of the second period and staved off a late comeback to capture its first Division 2 North sectional title since 2011, 6-4, over No. 4 Boston Latin.
The Redmen (17-4-3) advance to the state championship on Sunday at TD Garden against South winner Canton (24-0-1).
“We wanted to get the puck to the net,” said Tewksbury coach Derek Doherty. “I thought we did a good job getting the lead. At the end of the game, even though [Boston Latin] scored, I could see it their eyes, that ‘we got this.’ ”
Just 17 seconds into the middle frame, junior Campbell Pierce gave Tewksbury its first lead on a one-timer from close range.
Tewksbury would get two more midway through the period on consecutive defensive-zone breakdowns by the Wolfpack. Junior Kyle Morris and freshman Jason Cooke scored from the same spot in the right circle, left all alone on passes across the middle, 63 seconds apart.
“That’s really where the game turned,” said Boston Latin coach Frank Woods. “When you dig a hole that deep in this kind of a game, it’s hard to come out of.”
A response came from Boston Latin after a timeout, on a powerful effort by Evan Frechette from the high slot and narrow misses on two grade-A power-play chances. Latin only registered three power-play shots on four opportunities for the game, however.
“Our penalty kill has been terrific all year,” said Doherty. “I think it actually helped us. It slowed the game down a little bit because we kind of pack it up pretty good.”
The winning goal came on Tewksbury’s second shot of the third period as Morris tapped home a rebound. Boston Latin (17-4-3) had a couple late strikes from Sam Hutchinson and Josh Sharek, but the comeback effort fell short.
“We maybe started to get comfortable, but then we figured it out and held onto our lead,” said Morris. “We think we can go head-to-head with anyone in Division 2.”
Winchester 4, St. John’s Prep 1 — After the eighth seeds tied the game during a dominant second period, fourth-seeded Winchester (17-7) was looking for someone to step up and save the season at Tsongas Center.
Senior captain Mike Drew did, cashing in a pair of mistakes to capture the Sachems’ first Division 1 North title since 2000.
“We felt relatively confident coming out in that third period that as long as we stayed out of the box and played our game we were going to be alright,” said Winchester coach Bill Burns, whose team takes on South champion Duxbury this Sunday at TD Garden.
Drew’s first tally, the eventual winner, came on the Sachems’ lone power play of the night. A loose puck in front and a lack of defensive coverage by the Eagles allowed Drew to walk in for the go-ahead goal.
His second came 92 seconds later off a giveaway by Eagles’ goalie Jackson Irving. Coming out to play a rolling puck, Irving had his clearance halted by Drew, who aimed a low shot into a gaping net.
“After that I knew we had it,” said Drew. “We said ‘This is our 15 minutes’ and we went out there and played our hearts off.”
St. John’s Prep (13-8-3) scored its only goal on the power play. A Ned Malolepszy shot from the left circle kicked off Robert DiVicenzo’s pad and right to junior captain Patrick Moran for the easy tap-in finish.
The sophomore Divicenzo kept his team in the game, though. He made 27 saves, including 10 in the second period to keep the Eagles from taking the lead.
“As he has [done] all year,” said Burns. “He really saw the puck well tonight. That’s a good team over there, they’re four lines deep. Rob really stood tall tonight.”
Winchester took the lead early when Angelo Mario wristed a shot above Irving’s blocker 10 minutes into the first period.
Dan Shulman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.