BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. -- During a preseason meeting, Hanover head coach Jonny Abban had a meeting with five captains of his club to talk about their goals for the season. The Indians told their coach that they had a goal in mind.
Wednesday, at the Gallo Ice Arena, they turned their dream into a reality.
“I remember sitting down before the season with the five captains, and their goal was to go to the Boston Garden. I couldn’t be more proud,” Abban said.
With a 3-0 win over victory over Wayland High School in the Division 3 state semifinals, the Indians punched their tickets to Boston.
They’ll meet up with the winner of Thursday’s game between Central champ Shrewsbury and Western champ Westfield at the TD Garden on Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
Late in the season, it didn’t look like Hanover’s goals were very realistic. At 9-7-0, Hanover had a hard time finding traction. Since that time, though, the Indians have been one of the hottest teams in the state, with their win over the Warriors running their consecutive win streak to eight in a row.
No. 9 would end the year with another trophy.
Hanover (18-7-0) scored the game’s first goal at 3:44 of the middle period in large part to a Wayland (15-6-3) defensive mistake. One of the Warriors’ defensemen attempted to skate the puck out of his own, and took a route right in front of his own a cage. The play resulted in a turnover as Hanover freshman defenseman Mike McGlame stepped up to take the puck away.
McGlame spied an open teammate on the far post and adroitly worked the puck to the right wing for Drew Caldwell, who snapped the puck to the net. Wayland goaltender Ben Boschetto made the initial save, but the puck jumped off his chest to the low slot where Pat Nevins snapped a shot to the open side of the net for a 1-0 lead. It was the first of two goals for Nevins, who also canned an empty-netter with nine seconds left to ice the win.
Abban said that his team has done a better job of being opportunistic during its winning streak, and that the goal was an example of that.
“Towards the end of the season we started capitalizing on others mistakes, and like I told the kids during intermission, ‘they’re waiting for us to make a mistake, and they’re going to jam it down our throat.’ It was nice to see that it was reversed this time.”
Nevins said once he had the puck on his stick, he knew the puck was as good as in the net. “What I say in the locker room before every game is that we need that first goal. Momentum plays a key role in each game. When we score first we usually win, it gives a huge confidence booster.”
Later in the first period, Hanover’s top scorer, Matt McDougall went down with a leg injury and needed several minutes to get up off the ice. He did not play the final four minutes of the first period, but was right back out there for the second. It was a good thing for the Indians, because he netted a huge insurance goal for the club at 6:18 of the third to give his team some breathing room, snapping one off from a tough angle on the left wing.
“Matt plays a hard-nosed game. He took a good lump there, but my feeling was that he’d be back at some point. He said he was hurt, but not that bad. He’s been our goal scorer all year, a true leader, just a super kid,” Abban said.
McDougall said that once he got a little ice on his knee, he knew he’d be able to return to play, though he thinks he’ll have to keep icing it pretty good for the next few days.
“I’m a senior, I’ve got to play through it,” he said.
While Hanover missed their big gun for a part of a period, Wayland was without the services of their top scorer for the whole night. Nick Morgan, who had 23 regular-season goals, was injured in the north sectional title game against Newton South.
Without Morgan in the lineup, the Warriors were unable to find the back of the net. A large part of that was due to the superb job done by the Hanover defensive corps, with goalie Noah Clapp (20 saves) stopping everything thrown his way.
The foursome of Joe Martino, Matt Beard, Mike Proctor and McGlame controlled the loose pucks and kept the majority of the action pinned to the perimeter.
And now the Indians move on to try to finish off their quest at the Garden.
“It’s going to be unreal. It’s the first time I’ve ever played there, I can’t wait. It’s going to be great,” McDougall said.
Nevins summed things up well for his entire team, “It’s a dream come true.”