BOSTON -- To get his teammates pumped up for Sunday's Division I state championship game against Wakefield, Marshfield captain Chris Perry wrote the beginnings of a what would have been an impressive inspirational novel.
One he never got to finish, due to a the serious leg injury he suffered midway through the contest.
No matter. The Rams finished the epic for him, winning in masterful, come from behind fashion, 3-2, before a raucous crowd at TD Garden.
Sophomore Mike Carbone netted the game-winner with 1:31 left in the third period, two minutes after his linemate Connor McLean had tied the score 2-2.
Carbone's goal, a wicked wrister from the right dot, secured the Rams their second ever state crown, and first since 2006.
Carbone said Perry, who suffered a severed femoral artery in his right leg after a collision with Wakefield's John Sartell, was very much on his mind as he scored what proved to be the biggest goal in his life.
“He's my best friend,” said Carbone. “That means a lot. But us winning the state championship has sunk in as much as it will tomorrow. Or a year from now.”
Senior forward Ryan Connors echoed the thought.
“He was my center man,” Connors said. “Since he couldn't be here, we wanted to get the win for him. He wrote a good speech to get us all going in the locker room. He wasn't there to give us another one after the game.”
The Rams held a noticeable edge in play during the scoreless opening period.
Wakefield goalie Joe Cerulo passed the stiffest test of the stanza, when, at 10:31, he reacted to Joe Amirand's 10 foot deflection of Jon Fraser's point shot.
Cerulo, however, had no chance at all on Connors' fluky goal, which opened the scoring just 24 seconds into the second period. Connors was attempting to pass the puck out of the left corner to his younger brother Jimmy. Instead instead, he hit a perfect bank shot off of the leg of Warriors' defender John Sartell, leaving Cerulo (25 saves) with no time to react.
“I got pretty lucky,” said Connors. “We were just doing everything we could to get the puck to the net. It just went our way.”
The mood in the Garden was darkened, when, at 3:38, Perry, the club's top line winger, went down.
Perry was chasing the puck near the red line when he and Sartell collided, throwing Perry into the boards. Perry was inadvertantly gashed by Sartell's skate. After being tended to for about five minutes, was wheeled off, and taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for surgery.
“It looks like he's going to be okay,” said a relieved Dan Connolly, Marshfield's coach, who relied heavily on Perry in all situations. “Up until that play he was our best player. He was unbelievable. He's the catalyst on our team. When our kids saw that, it was like, 'oh, no, what's going to happen now.”
The loss of Perry knocked the Rams off stride, but not for good.
“He's a big player for us,” said senior defenseman Pat Cull. “We knew he wanted it just as bad as we did. We knew we had to do it for him.”
The Warriors knotted the score, 1-1, via Adam Giancola's power play goal, at 11:04.
Giancola cut to the right post, and when Rams goalie Kyle Moran (17 stops) kicked out Brett Buckley's attempt from the left side, Giancola pounced on the rebound and buried it. Giancola tallied again, 31 seconds into the third period, to give Wakefield its only lead, 2-1, after Alec Brown hit him with a nifty cross crease pass.
But with 3:35 left in the third, McLean rerouted Ty Martina's centering feed, to make it 2-2.
Then, with momentum, and inspiration, clearly in the Rams' corner, McLean hit Carbone in full stride with a pass up the right wing.
Carbone took it from there, motoring to within 25 feet before zipping home the winning goal.
“It was a really good shot,” said Cerulo. “I have to give him credit. If I'd been out a few more inches, I would have had that.”
Said Moran, his opposite number, “We knew that ewe had the heart, we'd be able to take it all the way. And we did.”