The 2018 MIAA Boys Division 2 state final (Sunday, 3:15pm, TD Garden) will be a battle of two teams both looking for their first state championship.
After reaching the D2 North final a year ago, and falling 2-0 to eventual state champion Lowell Catholic, much was expected this winter for Stoneham, with the nucleus of its team returning. The Spartans did not disappoint, grabbing the #2 seed in the North with an impressive 14-4-2 regular season record that includes wins over D1 teams like Arlington, Burlington and Reading.
The Panthers weren’t as heralded to start the season. They were the #13 seed in the D2 South sectional last year, and fell in the first round to Westwood 5-1. But they have been steady all season, finishing second in the Patriot League Fisher Division, behind D3 state finalist Hanover. Plymouth South has really come together in the post-season and is playing its best hockey at this time.
Both teams will be led by veteran casts.
Junior Nick Feliciano has been a sparkplug all season up front for coach Paul Sacco’s Stoneham club; he had the game-winner in the 2-1 win over Boston Latin in the D2 North Final. He will be joined by a group of experienced seniors that includes co-captain Jake Burridge, Nick DelTrecco, Bobby Delling and Joe Carroll.
On the blue line, senior A.J. Sousa is very involved both defensively and offensively for the Spartans. Senior co-captain Cam Sacco and senior Nick Allen are two more poised veterans. And in goal, senior Peter Barry has had a solid year for Stoneham.
The Spartans have dedicated their season in the memory of former defenseman James Luti. The sophomore blue liner tragically passed away during the pre-season and has given the club inspiration.
“These guys have been playing for James all season,” said Stoneham coach Paul Sacco. “I think they have tried to put aside their personal goals and have focused on the team as a group. It has been quite a journey to see these young men compete together for the past four years. We have kids that care for one another and will sacrifice for one another and it has shown this season.”
The Panthers also have plenty of players on the offensive side that the Spartans defense must be wary of. Seniors Sean Colbert, Danny Lincoln and Ryan Cummings have scored many key goals this season. Junior Alex Hayward and sophomore Collin Costello have been involve in a big way as well.
Plymouth South has a pair of solid seniors taking care of business on the blue line in Peter Fantoni and Jake Worrick. And, senior goaltender Cam McPhee has had a tremendous season in goal for the Panthers.
To reach Sunday’s final, Plymouth South defeated Quincy (3-1), Medway (2-1), Canton (5-3) and Medfield (6-3).
Stoneham’s march to the state final including wins over Tewksbury (6-2), Pentucket (5-0) and Wilmington (4-1) in addition to the D2 North Final win over Boston Latin.
“Plymouth South is a great team,” Sacco said. “To have competed in the South (sectional) and come out on top is a huge accomplishment. We just need to be ready to play.”