Boston High School: Matt Thomson

D1 North final: Reading 4, Wilmington 3 (SO)

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11

LOWELL, Mass. – The legend of Monday night’s MIAA Division 1 North Final will continue to grow for a really long time. Three full periods, two overtimes and 10 rounds of the shootout were not enough to decide a winner.

Then, magic struck twice for Reading coach Mark Doherty. He sent Mike Thomson back out for his second attempt at the shootout in the 11th round, after being one of just two Rockets to be successful in the initial five rounds.

The senior went in on Wilmington senior goaltender Drew Foley, deked once and lifted a backhand past the sprawled out tender for the game-winning tally.

“He’s got skill,” Doherty said. “When we went to that second round [players could be re-used after the first 10 rounds] he’s obviously going to be the first guy to go. Thank goodness he came through.”

Mayhem ensued. Reading players, led by Thomson and senior goaltender Ian Lapham celebrated on top of one another in front of the Rockets student section. The whole team and the coaching staff joined in a truly jubilant celebration, worthy of what will go down as one of the most exciting games in high school hockey history in the Bay State.

“It was very exciting. One of my coaches said I almost had a heart attack [in the shootout],” joked Doherty, a sentiment probably felt by numerous other people in the building.

The 4-3 win vaults Reading into Sunday’s MIAA Division 1 State Championship game against Braintree at the TD Garden.

“I’m thrilled we came out on top,” Doherty said. “We’ve got Braintree on Sunday. I respect [Wamps] head coach Dave Fasano and it will be another great game. It’s great to have two [public schools] fighting for the state title.”

Brick walls: The real story of the game was the truly remarkable goaltending that was on display at both ends of the ice. Reading’s Lapham and Wilmington’s Foley traded saves blow-for-blow.

At times, the pair made it look as if there was a brick wall preventing pucks from crossing the goal line.

Foley made 40 saves in regulation and overtime. He made a multitude of spectacular saves throughout the game, but several stretches of play really stood out.

“Foley is terrific,” noted Doherty.

He flashed the leather to make three brilliant saves around the midway mark of the third period. Foley bailed out his team on several occasions in both overtime sessions, including when the Wildcats were down a man in the second extra period.

Lapham made 29 saves in regulation and the overtime periods, and although he made several highlight worthy saves during game action, he clearly saved his best for the shootout.

The senior made an incredible kick save on a Wilmington shooter during the shootout, a puck that was labeled for the bottom corner.

Lapham’s success in the shootout came as no surprise to his teammates and coaching staff.

“It’s funny, we were just joking about it,” Doherty said. “Ian backed up a kid named Evan Morelli for two years. Evan is a terrific goalie, but we always joked that Ian was better on breakaways. For some reason he’s just an outstanding breakaway goalie.”

Ironman Seibold: Reading junior defenseman Mike Seibold was the Rockets’ version of Zdeno Chara on Monday night. He hardly came off the ice, and at times appeared to be double shifting almost every time out on the ice.

Seibold was resilient, bouncing back from an uncharacteristic turnover that led to an early Wilmington goal.

“In the first period the puck got stuck near him. It was a bad break. I wasn’t worried about him fighting back. He was awesome after that. Instead of folding he figured it out,” said Doherty.

After that he bucked down, played a physically imposing game, keeping Wilmington’s charges to the perimeter and landing some bone-crunching hits.

“He’s a competitor,” Doherty said. “He threw a couple big hits that were huge, good, clean neutral zone hits. He can change the flow of a game. He’s a gamer. I truly expect Mike to play in big games.”

Brotherly connection: Mike Thomson was the shootout hero, but younger brother Matt, a freshman, found the back of the net twice as well. He scored the second goal of the game for the Rockets and led off the shootout with a successful strike.

“He can really shoot a puck and he has really good hands,” said Doherty of the elder Thomson.

Matt Thomson has some skill of his own, something that Reading fans will surely get accustomed to seeing over the next few years.

Wildcats legacy: Seniors Luke Foley and Austin O’Neal scored goals in their last high school game and fellow classmate Cody McGowan was one of just two Wildcats to score in the shootout.

The three talented senior forwards were part of a special group that will graduate seven this spring. The senior class will go down as the group that led the program’s transition from back-to-back Division 2 state championships to a berth in the Division 1 North final this season.

“We have a lot to be proud of,” Wilmington head coach Steve Scanlon said. “I don’t think anyone expected us to be in this game this year after all the talent we graduated. They’re hurting now, but they have a lot to be proud of.”

Recap: No. 19 Reading 6, Burlington 1

December, 19, 2013
READING, Mass. – On Wednesday, Reading was a step faster, hit a G-force harder, and more sound fundamentally as the No. 19 Rockets cruised past Burlington, 6-1, at Burbank Ice Arena.

The Rockets scored the first three goals and finished off the Red Devils with three goals in a 3-minute, 2-second span in the third.

Jake Barbera led Reading with two goals and an assist. Liam O'Neill had a goal and an assist and Ian Lapham turned aside 21 shots for his second win of the season.

“I'm thrilled to get off to a 2-0 start,” Reading coach Mark Doherty said. “Truthfully, I didn't what to except at the start [of the season] with the massive turnover.”

The bulk of Reading’s goals came off of Burlington turnovers or converted rebounds. Both of Barbera's goals were cleaned up rebounds and Reading's first goal, scored by Rob DiLoreto, was initiated after O'Neill picked off a pass at the blue line to start an odd-man rush.

Burlington coach Bob Conceison said that it was a bad day for his team.

“We're definitely inexperienced but so isn't Reading. I thought they played really really well. I have to go home and decide if it was more how poorly we played or how well they played. I'm sure it was a combination of the two.

“We have to try to make more plays. We're reluctant to make more plays offensively and I think we have to make more plays.”

Burlington scored with eight seconds left in the second period to make it a 3-1 game at the intermission, but a controversial goal early in the third gave momentum back to Reading.

After, what looked like a stop, a shot by Matt Thomson something that sounded like a whistle blew but the referee immediately called the play a goal. Burlington complained and Conceison was incensed, but the goal stood and it took the wind out of Burlington's sails.

“I heard a whistle,” Conceison said. “ I think it was more emotion on my part; I can't see from the bench how it went in. I thought the whistle blew before the puck went in. My guys were saying the puck didn't go in. We didn't lose the game because of that. I felt it was more of a momentum thing. We got that goal at the end of the period and thought we could jump back into the game.”

DEFENSIVE SUCCESS: Reading only had five more shots than Burlington, but it seemed like a whole lot more because the Rockets' defense forced Burlington into numerous low-percentage shots.

An inexperienced defensive group was aided by strong two-way play by the forwards and it made for a mostly easy night for Lapham in goal.

“We've got a very young set of defensmen so we're doing everything we can to help out in the D zone,” Barbera said. “We just want to have a three-zone team.”

After surrendering three goals against Wilmington in the season opener, Doherty said he was pleased with his team's performance in their own end.

“Truthfully, I thought our D looked noticeably better tonight than it did against Wilmington,” Doherty said. “ I drew that as an area of improvement.”