No. 10 Woburn claims key Middlesex test

WOBURN, Mass. -- No. 10 Woburn made sure that it will be in the Middlesex League race down to the wire with Reading and Winchester, as the host Tanners earned an impressive 4-1 win over ninth-ranked Reading last night at O’Brien Rink.

A relatively even first period ended with the teams tied at 1-1, but Woburn (12-2-1, 11-2-0) ran away with the contest in the final 30 minutes. The Tanners outshot Reading (11-4-1, 9-2-0) by counts of 19-1 and 14-5 in the second and third periods, and 48-15 overall.

Woburn’s forecheck dominated the offensive zone in the middle period and led directly to the game winner for Eddie Aprile at 7:17. Bobby Smith stole the puck with a hard check in the left corner and centered to Aprile for the finish.

“The forechecking is really working,” Aprile said. “ Everyone’s working hard and forechecking and we’re getting opportunities off of that.”

Casey Shea, who tied the game on a redirection at 13:49 of the first, pushed the lead to 3-1 just 1:10 later with a wrist shot inside the right post from the low slot. The onslaught continued in the third period, with Aprile adding the final goal from low in the right circle.

“They truly wanted it a lot more than us; that’s the reality of it,” Reading coach Mark Doherty said.

Reading goaltender Andrew Keen made 44 saves in a noble effort, but the constant pressure and deep turnovers simply gave the Tanners too many good scoring chances.

“We’re happy with the performance tonight because of the fact that we got a lot of chances,” Woburn head coach Jim Duran said.

Zach Coughlin scored Reading’s only goal at 11:00 of the first, cleaning up a rebound off a shot by Tom Crowley. Daniel Holland and Smith each had two assists for the Tanners.

The win gives Woburn a season split with Reading and a good boost for the stretch run, but the race for the league crown is far from over. The Rockets have five games remaining on the league schedule over the next two weeks, while Woburn has three, including a crucial match-up with Winchester next Saturday.

Woburn suffered a 2-0 loss to Winchester on Jan. 15, while the Rockets and Sachems split their season series.