Boston High School: Nick Liberto

D3 boys final: Westfield 4, Swampscott 1

March, 18, 2013
BOSTON – Swampscott was making its first-ever appearance in the state title game, but nerves did not seem to be an issue for the Big Blue as they fired shot after shot on the Westfield net in the opening period.

It could have been nerves that got the better of Swampscott on its first trip to the TD Garden, but instead, it was Bombers senior goalie Nick Liberto that ruined the afternoon for the North sectional champs.

“We couldn’t have done it without him,” said Westfield senior forward Adam Collier about his goaltender. “I’ve personally watched him since freshman year and he stands on his head every game. I couldn’t ask for a better goalie.”

Liberto made 22 saves and Collier scored a pair of goals as the Western sectional champions made the most of the long drive to Boston and earned the program’s third Division 3 state title with a 4-1 victory on Sunday afternoon.

Veteran head coach C.B. Matthews, Jr., who has been at the helm for all three of the team’s state championships, was also full of praise for Westfield’s senior netminder.

He remarked, “He brought us here and he kept us in the game tonight. He made some enormous saves. We were running around a little bit and he kept us in the game.”

Liberto deflected praise to his teammates and commented that his primary focus is giving his team the chance to get the game’s first goal.

“I was just trying to stay focused and I always want to give my team the first goal,” explained Liberto. “I feel like that’s huge. So, I’m good from the start.”

Swampscott freshman goalie Tristan Bradley was also excellent in the first period, but the Big Blue was caught out on two odd-man rushes by Westfield. With 4:16 left in the period, Connor Sullivan finished a two-on-one from Chris Sullivan to make it 1-0. Inside the final minute, Collier scored his first to double the Bombers’ lead.

“We gave up a couple of two on one’s, which resulted in goals but I thought for the most part we had some great opportunities, but we weren’t able to put the puck in the net,” said Big Blue head coach Gino Faia.

Collier added his second and the team’s third midway through the second period. Sean Spohr, who also assisted on Collier’s first goal, and Brandon Miemiec got the assists. Matthews called the forward his team’s “unsung hero.”

“My line has been doing great,” noted Collier about his goalscoring success in the tournament. “We just try to get to the net, move the puck well, and get the puck on net. Luckily, it’s paid off.”

Westfield nearly let a third period lead slip in the semifinal against Wachusett, so there was still pressure on the Bombers despite the three-goal advantage. That pressure increased when Robert Serino scored a wraparound goal with 8:55 remaining to make it 3-1.

Swampscott pushed forward and continued to fire shots toward Liberto, but the Westfield defensemen held firm and blocked a number of efforts in the closing minutes. Corey Carmody nearly made it a one-goal game late in the third, but his shot slid through Liberto’s five-hole and all the way through the crease.

Anthony Cagliostro tacked on an empty net goal to ice the game for the Bombers in the game’s final minute.

“Normally third periods have been our best periods all season long and we told them that we’ve got to get the one,” said Faia. “We did score and got some energy, but we kind of ran out of time there.”

Collier admitted that the Medway game was on the players’ minds as the third period began on Sunday.

“We gave up four goals in the third period [against Wachusett on Thursday] and going into the third period here we knew that we couldn’t let down and the title was ours,” he commented.

Westfield celebrated the program’s third title and Matthews noted that, no matter how many championships the program wins, it never gets old.

“It’s a good feeling,” he reflected. “They’re all special. These young men will never forget them.”

Marblehead claims first-ever D3 hockey title

March, 20, 2011

BOSTON -- A flurry of goals in the second period from the Marblehead Magicians was the turning point of the Division 3 boys' hockey championship Sunday at the TD Garden, a 6-3 victory over the Westfield Bombers, for their first ever D-3 Title.

“Indescribable,” Marblehead senior Ryan Dempsey said, “Everybody was so happy, we’ve lost is such big games, so to win a game like this is indescribable, the best.”

The first five minutes of the game were played inside Westfield’s blue line. Marblehead forced five early saves out of Bombers goalie Nick Liberto (21 saves total). But it was Westfield who got on the scoreboard first at 5:12 on their first shot of the game. Nick Sibilia stole the puck just inside the Marblehead blue line and beat Magician’s goalie Tony Cuzner (8 saves) one on one.

Austin Haley evened the score at one all at 7:37, knocking in a rebound from point blank, seniors Chris McLeod and Tyler Gelineau assisting. Westfield took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission thanks to Conner Laraway who added a rebound goal of his own with exactly one minute remaining in the period. Bombers forward Matt Gagnon had sent junior Kyle Levere in on a breakaway with a tape to tape pass from inside his defensive end. Levere’s shot was saved but Laraway couldn’t miss.
In the second period Marblehead seized control of the game for good with a flurry of goals, two on the power play.

“We wanted to just go out and win the second period, and play as well as we could,” Marblehead head coach Bob Jackson of his first intermission team talk, “And we went out and scored four goals, so we were happy.”

Westfield’s Nate Barnes picked up the games first penalty 2:36 into the second and the Magicians made the man advantage count. Senior Ryan Dempsey made a highlight reel backhand pass from behind the goal to McLeod who one-timed the finish tying the game at tow a piece. Thirty two seconds later the Magicians took the lead for good, Ben Koopmen blasted home a slap shot from just inside the blue line after Gelineau won the faceoff.

Jake Kulevich scored twice in the second period, his first on a rebound (4:40) and his second a shot that trickled through the Liberto’s 5-hole at 9:09.
Gagnon cut Westfield’s deficit to just two goals after his shot from a tough angle found the back of the net. But Hunter Graves scored the final goal of the game just 58 seconds into the third sniping his shot into the top corner for a 6-3 final.

After the game Marblehead talked about the hard work of the upperclassmen. “We have nine guys that have been here for four years, and I can’t begin to tell you the dedication, commitment and enthusiasm they brought with them everyday” Marblehead head coach Bob Jackson said of his seniors.

“We had a nice little moment after the game,” Kulevich said of the locker room celebration, “ We brought it in [after the game] one last time, there’s a lot of guys leaving this team, the coaches were great, and the coaches broke it down.”