Boston High School: Niko Cunha
March, 20, 2011
By James Walsh | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Tewksbury senior Mark Petti scored 53 seconds into overtime, giving the Redmen their first state championship since 1995, 2-1, over the South sectional champions Franklin Panthers.
The game, the stage, it was all little overwhelming.
“It was just unbelievable, the last game of high school playing at the Boston Garden, and to score the game winning goal was just unbelievable.” said Petti after the game.
“It was back and forth, up and down”, Tewksbury head coach Derek Doherty said, “Franklin is a great team and it made for a really good state tournament game.”
The Redmen thought they had taken the lead at 11:17 in the first period. Rob Pruyne’s shot appeared to go off the crossbar and over the goal line, but the referee’s were quick to wave it off.
“He came over to me and said ‘Coach I’m 100 percent sure that the puck didn’t go in the net, it hit the crossbar and didn’t go in.’” Doherty explained, “He was confident when he came over and said it to me. So if he was confident then I was fine with it.”
The Panthers and the Redmen looked to be heading into the locker room scoreless after the first period until a flukey goal at 14:59 scored by James Marchand giving Franklin a 1-0 lead after one period of play. Tom Carlow had the initial shot which was knocked away by Redmen goalie Niko Cunha (18 saves) but the puck deflected off the boards behind the net, and trickled out in front of goal where Marchand was waiting and finished.
“Everyone didn’t put their heads down” Cunha said of the goal, “I told myself that doesn’t happen a lot, it’s not going to happen again. I made sure I was tracking everything, trying to smuggle the rebounds and it worked.”
Cunha made 11 saves in the second period including one where Marchand stole the put a few feet in front of the Tewksbury goal and had a shot point blank. Moments later the Redmen tied the game when senior Frank Mazzei scored on a rebound from a Cam Rowe shot at 10:22.
After that, it was a goaltenders duel. Franklin goalie Billy Spillane (22 saves) and Cunah, both seniors, went back and forth making impressive saves. With 10 minutes remaining in regulation Cunha made a split save on a Nick Bertoni break away, while Spillane made a stop on a Tewksbury two on one opportunity just one minute later. With 4:04 remaining Cunha made another breakaway stop on Mark Teehan and the game seemed dentin for overtime.
In overtime, it only took 53 seconds for Petti to score the winner for Tewksbury. Mazzei had the initial shot which rolled out from Spillane’s pads and onto the doorstep for Petti to smash in.
“I just came here to do what I had to do to and do my job to win.” Petti said, “And it just worked out that I scored it (the game winner). I saw that puck and I saw the empty net, I just fired it right in and it was unbelievable.”
“It’s tough to lose. We had a couple of chances in the third period, a breakaway and a two one we didn’t capitalize.” Franklin head coach Chris Spillane said postgame, “on the flipside they also had a beautiful two on one from 21 to 4 [Ryan Doherty and Petti]. “We’ll be a stronger team next year, we’ll build and learn from this and we’ll improve.”
“Any goalie that only allows one goal in three periods is a great goalie. Cunha said, complementing his opposing goaltender, “I told him in the line ‘You played a hell of a game.’
"It could have gone either way, it took a bounce like that to win.”