CHELMSFORD, Mass. — It was dubbed as the Battle of Winn Street, Part Three, and it was Woburn that imposed its will on Burlington, earning bragging rights on the street that connects the towns as well as entry into the Super 8 tournament where they will play Springfield Cathedral in a best-of-three series starting Sunday at the Tsongas Center.
The Tanners (16-1-4) got goals from Kyle Flaherty, Andrew Palmer, and Justin Alves (empty-netter) and a 24-save performance from sophomore goalie Sammy Best in a 3-0 victory in front of a spirited crowd at the Chelmsford Forum Tuesday night.
For Woburn, the win avenged a 4-2 defeat to the Red Devils on Feb. 12 and sets up the daunting task of overtaking No. 1 seed Springfield Cathedral, which finished the regular season without a loss.
“I told them to enjoy this one because we are not sure what is going to happen these next two games,” quipped Woburn head coach Jim Duran. “We wanted to really win this game and whatever happens, happens. It is David and Goliath and everybody knows that. If we can hang in there and have a great effort that is all we want.”
Woburn’s effort was not In question from the beginning against Burlington and the Tanners almost got on the board on a Flaherty bid early in the first period that was denied by Burlington goalie Nick Howard, who was brilliant at times in the Burlington cage.
Midway through the second period, the Tanners struck on a scrum near the Burlington net when Flaherty picked up a loose puck at the left post and fired one behind a prone Howard, giving Woburn a 1-0 lead.
It was not until late in the third period that the Tanners found some breathing room. With two minutes left, Timmy Doherty looked to double the lead but he was denied by the glove of Howard.
Less than a minute later, Palmer was sprung free on a pass through the neutral zone from Tyler Shaw and Palmer made a quick move and slid one in between Howard’s pads for a 2-0 lead with just 1:02 left.
Alves would add the empty netter with just five seconds remaining to send Tanner nation into a frenzy.
“I think it was a great game,” added Duran. “We played really well. It was back and forth in the first and then in the second I thought we got going a little better. Once we got that first goal it was a huge goal for us.”
SAMMY’S BEST: Woburn sophomore goalie Sammy Best has been on a bit of a roll lately.
Best’s last three starts have resulted in three straight shutouts for the Tanners – with two in Woburn’s own Irish American tourney victory and Tuesday’s over Burlington, a team that put four past Best in his last loss.
“He has been awesome all year and I think this is his eighth or ninth shutout,” said Duran. “He just works hard and he knows the game. Everyone is else is going to the park and he is going to do goaltending drills. He has been great for us and he works hard.”
Best will have to be at his monumental best to shut down the high scoring offense of Springfield Cathedral.
DEVILS MUST REGROUP: For Burlington (16-2-4), they must now do something they have not had to do since late December: bounce back from a loss.
But for Burlington coach Bob Conceison, it may be something a little tougher to figure out after some lapses by the Red Devils on Tuesday night.
“I don’t know what it was tonight,” said Conceison. “We worked hard at times but we gave up that goal and we were really struggling. We got shots on net but we didn’t get any real aggressive plays to their net. Maybe the pressure of it all got to us. I can’t figure it out.
“I give Woburn a lot of credit. They took advantage of their opportunities and they worked hard.”
Burlington will drop into an always tough Division I North field, but history is on their side. In 2011-12, the Devils lost a Super 8 play-in game to Central Catholic before rallying to win Division I North and then beating Milton for their first in a string of back-to-back state titles.