Though it may not have been the title they had hoped to be competing for on the first weekend in March, Avon Old Farms took home the Boys Prep Large School championship, beating Albany Academy, 8-1, in the title game held at St. Anselm College.
The Winged Beavers held a slight 2-1 advantage into the final minute of the second period, but got a huge goal from Tyler Madden with just 18 seconds left in the frame and then unloaded a five-goal barrage in the third period.
In its three post-season wins, Avon Old Farms scored 23 goals, also beating Proctor 8-5 and Brunswick 7-3.
“We were upset to barely miss out on the Elite 8 Tournament so we felt we had something to prove, which we did in the last three games,” said veteran Avon Old Farms coach John Gardner. “We managed to create offense from a pretty good defense this post-season.”
In the final, it also didn’t hurt to get up early. Just 1:43 into the game, Avon’s Nick Wildgoose scored from a tough angle, assisted by Matt Kirwan.
The Winged Beavers expanded the margin to 2-0 in the first minute of the second period on a goal by senior John Giatrelis. Trevor Zegras and Madden had assists on the play.
Albany Academy (22-10-5) hung tough and applied a good deal of pressure in the second period, finally breaking through on an unassisted goal from junior Jericho Petkovich to make it a 2-1 game.
But then Madden came up with the game’s big goal.
“The key moment in the championship game was scoring a late second period goal from Madden after we had to defend most of the second period due to Albany’s hard play and several penalties,” Gardner said. “We scored a shorthanded goal six minutes into the third period and then put the game away.”
That shorthanded goal, by Kirwan, came at the 5:54 juncture and made it a 4-1 game.
It was all Avon after that, as Wildgoose and Giatrelis both added their second goals of the game, and Nick Keroack and Mac Wiseman also dented the twine.
These two teams also played on opening day back in early December and it was Albany Academy that had the upper hand that day, winning 8-3.
“As to the early season loss to Albany, we had a young team and it was our first game,” Gardner said. “They were older, stronger and took it to us. I knew our team would progress over the course of the season. I always thought that if we played them again in the middle or latter part of the season, the result would be much different. Not to say that the Albany team did not get better, but I though we were a talented but young team and thus were unpredictable early in the season and throughout much of the season.
We were capable of beating anyone but lost a few games to teams we should not have lost to.”