Hanover has some unfinished business. And it’s going to just the right place to take care of it.
The Indians earned a trip to the MIAA Division 3 state championship at the TD Garden Sunday, March 20 (1 p.m.), site of the place they lost to Shrewsbury, 7-1, just two years ago.
Hanover (21-3-1) beat Wayland, 5-1, in a state semifinal Wednesday night at Gallo Arena. They meet Algonquin in the state final in Boston Sunday. Algonquin (16-3-5) beat Westfield Thursday night, 5-2.
“A big difference in the EMass final was our depth,” Hanover coach Jonathan Abban said. “We skate three lines and six defensemen and having Noah Clapp in net helps, too. It was a great team effort.”
Landon Hasenfuss had two goals and two assists against Wayland. Brett Parker also added two goals and two assists, and Dan Mcdougall had a great goal. Clapp did his job in the net.
Wayland finished 14-7-4, beating Dracut, Latin Academy, East Boston and defending champion Watertown for its North title.
“Hanover did a great job of overwhelming us with speed and wearing us down physically, especially on the forecheck and in transition,” Wayland coach Rian Murray said. “Many teams have tried to take this approach with us since we only skate 12. If I were a coach on the other side, that what would be my gameplan against us as well.”
Murray said his defense was the difference in the tourney. It was able to counter the physical approach from foes with speed, offsetting good forechecks with quicker puck-retrieval and smart outlets.
“That was not the case against Hanover,” Murray said. “The speed and tenacity of their forwards and their relentless forecheck forced us into uncharacteristic mistakes and their ability to finish checks really took a toll on us. Additionally, their best players played their best.”
Wayland goalie Andrew Ludwig was strong all tournament long and had a playoff GAA of 1.95.
“He was fantastic against Watertown in the Division 3 North final and was a big reason we made it to the state-semifinals,” Murray said.
Senior forward Joe Christakis and junior defenseman Christian Boschetto were “men on a mission” during this playoff run and “their will to win and compete-level were contagious and trickled down to everyone else on the team.” Christakis had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in five playoff games and was the most consistent offensive performer, Murray said.
In addition to being tasked with shutting down the opposing team’s best player in every game, Boschetto also contributed offensively with five points (2-3). The line of Jake Brady-Bobby Jones-Joe Lyons combined for seven goals and 10 assists in the five games.
After only scoring three goals during the entire regular season, sophomore forward Riley Bonner scored three in five playoff games, including the OT winner against Watertown.
“While running only two lines was a disadvantage at the beginning of the season, it became an advantage in the postseason,” Murray said. “In close games, most teams start running two lines more. We had been running only two lines the whole year and were able keep our energy up when other teams were getting tired. That made us real dangerous in third periods. If we weren’t the best conditioned team in the state this year, we were close to it.”
As for Hanover, it’s down to one. The Indians are making their sixth trip to a state championship. They’ve already won three, including one in Division 2 (2-0 over Andover in 1997).
What’s the message to his team about getting it done Sunday at the Garden?
“Our message to the kids is keep it simple and work hard, Abban said. “The kids have bought into this all year and it’s been working so far. We are excited to go back to the Garden and hopefully come out on top. These kids have done all the rights things off the ice and also on the ice. I’m very happy for them but we still have some unfinished business.”