LOWELL, Mass. -- The quandary for Burlington entering Monday’s Division 1 North sectional title game was how to yet again beat Wakefield senior goaltender Joe Cerulo.
So Red Devils head coach Bob Conceison took a novel approach to the problem. To simulate the lack of holes into against the Warriors’ big netminder, Conceison had two goaltenders in net during practice in each of the last three days.
“Cerulo’s a big boy and a great goalie,” Burlington senior forward Trevor Cimino said. “We got him moving side-to-side, which is exactly what we wanted to do.”
The Red Devils’ unconventional target practice, along with their blazing team speed and some power-play production, helped them to a 4-2 victory over Wakefield. It was Burlington’s first victory of the season over their Middlesex League rivals after the teams skated to a pair of ties in the regular season.
“We knew we could outskate them,” said Cimino, who finished with a goal and two assists. “The two first two matchup we played were in smaller rinks, but this is a huge ice surface, a college ice surface, so we knew we could use our speed to go around them.”
Burlington (17-2-6) dominated play from the get-go, outshooting the Warriors, 14-2.
The Red Devils also took a 1-0 lead to the room at the first intermission after sophomore Joe Scali popped in his first goal of the season. Joe Moran and Dan Metzdorf picked up helpers as Burlington got production out of its third line.
“We’re a three- line team and all three lines contributed tonight,” Conceison added.
Cimino, who had a strong game in all three zones, then had a hand in each of the Red Devils’ next three goals.
First, the assistant captain set up linemate Brett Romkey for his 18th of the season. Cimino then lent an assist to C.J. Grinnell’s wrist shot snipe, which came from inside the left wing circle and found a sliver of daylight above Cerulo’s shoulder and underneath the crossbar at 12:38 of the season.
Cimino finished his three-point night by getting a stick on Grinnell’s point blast on the power play. It was Burlington’s second goal on the man-advantage of the evening while going 2-for-5 overall.
FROM YOUR OWN END OUT
Wakefield (12-7-6) showed some late life, however, nixing Derek DeCastro’s shutout bid in the third. Eddie Matthews stuck on the power play at 9:37 of the third before Kevin Doherty picked up his second point of the game with a goal at 13:11.
But Burlington had simply controlled too much of the play, in addition to strong effort from the Red Devils’ defensemen in front of DeCastro.
“I thought our defense played really well,” Conceison said. “[Steve] Mattos and [Adam] Crowley and [Cody] Crocker, they were all really, really solid.”
END OF THE ROAD
Warriors head coach Derek Edgerly was effusive in praise of his squad.
While admitting that he thought last season might have been the Warriors’ prime chance at a state championship (losing to Marshfield, which came from behind in last year’s title game), Edgerly’s third trip to a section final game in six years as Wakefield’s boss was an accomplishment in itself.
And it was in no small part due to the efforts of a couple of his senior leaders.
“Joe [Cerulo] is one of the best kids I’ve ever had and Kevin Doherty is one of the nicest kids and one of the best forwards I’ve ever seen.”
It’s often easy for Super 8 play-in game losers to fall victim to early-round upsets, but credit the Red Devils for collecting themselves and making a run to the Garden regardless.
Cimino gave credit to his teammates in their renewed conviction.
“Who wouldn’t want to be in the Super 8, you know?” Cimino said of the experience. “But, after that, we took a pact with each other that we’ll go all the way now. We said we’re the best team in this tournament and we’re going to the Garden. And now we did it.”
And now the Red Devils have the biggest game of their season ahead with a matchup with South sectional champion Milton at the TD Garden on Sunday.