ALLSTON, Mass. -- The Eastern Mass Division 3 final was by no means uncharted waters for the Headers. It’s everything beyond it that was unknown.
In three of the last four years, Marblehead boys’ hockey advanced out of the North bracket to earn a chance at the state title game. In their previous two attempts, they fell short, getting beaten by South champion Scituate in both turns.
“That loss last year was devastating,” Magicians senior captain Ryan Dempsey said of last year’s 5-2 defeat to the Sailors.
This year, with a change of opponent, Marblehead finally found the winning combination, holding on for a 3-2 win Tuesday night over South champion Pembroke at Harvard University’s Bright Center. With the victory, the Magicians will move on to play in their first state title game since 1985, when they were part of the Division 1 field.
Marblehead (19-4-3) controlled the flow of play through the first two periods, outshooting the Titans 28-7 after 30 minutes.
The Magicians came out firing in the first, but were unable to crack Pembroke netminder Kyle Jacobs (33 saves).
“We knew [Jacobs] was going to be strong out there and it would be difficult to beat him on initial shots,” Marblehead head coach Bob Jackson said. “We knew we’d need some rebound goals and we knew we’d have to position ourselves to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Marblehead was given a prime scoring opportunity six minutes into the opening period with a 5-on-3 power play. Only two shots found their way to Jacobs, however, on a great number of scoring chances. On the two-man advantage, the Magicians twice hit the side of the net (with space to sneak one in short side) and hit a post.
“We just kept hitting posts with shots and everything,” Dempsey said. “We didn’t get frustrated though because we knew it was coming. They can’t stop them all. We just went hard and finally they started going in.”
The Magicians finally got on the board with 2:36 remaining in the first with Austin Haley putting back the rebound off a Chris McLeod shot. Ben Koopman also picked up an assist on the play.
Marblehead again carried play in the second, outshooting Pembroke (15-6-4) by a 14-3 margin.
Hunter Graves had the Magicians to a 2-0 lead with 7:50 to play in the second, again capitalizing on a rebound opportunity with Alex Whitmore and Dempsey adding assists.
However, the Titans had plenty of fight in the third and whittled the deficit to a goal with 9:04 to play on Matt Sheehan’s unassisted tally off a Marblehead turnover.
The Magicians reestablished a two-goal lead with Dempsey banking in another tally off a rebound, this time with Haley and McLeod on the assists.
Pembroke answered right back, making it a one-score game with 3:04 to play on Chris Waterfield’s tally. Although the Titans had a few more quality chances on Magicians netminder Tony Cuzner, the Marblehead defenses held.