As a freshman goalie on the Belmont girls’ hockey team, Bridget Gray has become accustomed to stepping on the ice for the third period with a zero under her opponent’s score line.
But, with a one-goal lead over Waltham to protect and a trip to the Division 1 quarterfinals on the line, the freshman faced a daunting challenge over the final 15 minutes.
Gray, however, was up to the task in chalking up the shutout.
Gray made 27 saves — including 13 in the third period — and junior forward Emma O’Donovan scored two goals to lift the seventh-seeded Marauders to a 2-0 win over 10th-seeded Waltham at John A. Ryan Arena in Watertown.
“Bridget has been our savior every single game,” O’Donovan said. “We’ve played in a lot of close games and we wouldn’t be here without her. It’s all kudos to her.”
The shutout marked Gray’s 10th of the season and second of the season against Waltham after a 1-0 win on Jan. 13.
“I just wanted to keep our season alive,” Gray said. “It’s so nice. I just want to support [my teammates] and they help me out so much. I don’t even know how many blocked shots they had.”
O’Donovan provided much-needed relief with a deflected goal with 28 seconds remaining in the game, marking her 30th tally of the season. She opened the scoring in the second by beating Waltham goalie Caitlyn Burke (24 saves) blocker side on a breakaway during the power play at 5:22 of the second period to open the scoring.
Belmont (15-3-4), as a result, earned a quartefinal date against second-seeded Austin Prep in the quarterfinals at 12 p.m. Saturday in Woburn. Waltham, meanwhile, ended its season at 13-4-5.
St. Mary’s 2, Shrewsbury 1 — Maggie Pierce scored with 3:36 remaining in the third period to go along with a first-period assist as fifth-seeded St. Mary’s topped No. 12-seed Shrewsbury in Division 1 first round action at John A. Ryan Arena in Watertown.
The Spartans (16-2-4) jumped in front at 7:37 in the first on a goal from Megan Parthum after a feed from Pierce in the corner. Shrewsbury (14-6-2) answered late in the second with a goal from Grace Felicio at 12:44.
Eighth-grader Rhyan Pitari made 13 saves for the Spartans while Riley MacCausland pushed away 21 for Shrewsbury.
“Shrewsbury was not a [No.]12-seed, they’re one of the better teams we’ve played all year,” said St. Mary’s coach Frank Pagliuca. “I’m just proud of us. We grinded that win out. It was a tough game against a tough team and we’re moving on.”
St. Mary’s will play at No. 4 Woburn in the quarters at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Arlington 2, Needham 0 — Freshman Maddie Krepelka scored unassisted on the power play at 6:31 of the third period to power the sixth-seeded Spy Ponders (15-2-5) over the No.11-seeded Rockets (15-6-2) at John A. Ryan Arena.
Neither side generated many scoring chances through 30 minutes. It took a phenomenal individual effort from Krepelka to break the ice. Gaining the zone, Krepelka deked two defenders through the slot then scored on a backhand off the crossbar for her 22nd of the season.
“I couldn’t even describe it,” Krepelka said. “I didn’t even think it was going in and it went bar down. The fan section was crazy. I’m so thankful for all the students that come support us.”
Gabby Russo potted an empty-netter with :21 remaining to ice it. Elise Rodd stopped 14 shots to earn the shutout. Kenzie Kelly pushed away 22 for Needham. The Spy Ponders will play third-seeded Braintree in the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. Saturday in Woburn.
Division 3 North
Swampscott 2, Watertown 1 — With 1:54 remaining in the third period of a Division 3 North matchup between 13th-seeded Swampscott and fifth-seeded Watertown at the Stoneham Ice Arena, Swampscott head coach Gino Faia called for a timeout.
With the game tied, 1-1, Faia needed to keep his top forward line — comprised of freshman Ronan Locke, and seniors Drew Olivieri and Conor Donovan — on the ice for Big Blue’s best chance to win.
With :44 seconds left, Locke gained possession of the puck a step inside the Watertown blue
line, made a move, and from the left faceoff dot fired a wrist shot into the back of the net
for his second goal of the game, giving Swampscott (10-11-0) the win. Watertown finished at 13-6-2.
“I didn’t actually think it went in, but I saw it trickle in,” Locke said. “We just had to play it like it was our last shift. It could have been. We are used to it by now, with all the conditioning.”
Swampscott will play ninth-seeded 9 Lowell (11-7-4) in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Thursday in Chelmsford.
John Hand contributed from Stoneham. Michael McMahon reported from Watertown.