Mass. D-1 North Final: Reading prevails in sudden death shootout, 4-3

Kevin Doyle
Kevin Doyle
Kevin joined HNIB in 1990 and is a Senior Writer and Director of the Northern New England and Mass/R.I. High School Division camps. A veteran editor/writer of 40 years in the print and digital mediums, he has edited and produced original content and coordinated production for local and global publications and websites. He holds degrees from Merrimack College and Boston University and won multiple industry awards as Sports Editor of The Daily News of Newburyport and News Editor of The Amesbury News. He is the 2016 recipient of the North Shore Lifetime Commitment From the Community award presented by Moynihan Lumber and a 2017 Newburyport High School Wall of Fame inductee. He resides with his family in Portsmouth, NH. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @kdoyle40

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Was anyone really surprised two Middlesex League teams needed regulation, double overtime, and 11 rounds of the shootout to decide the MIAA Division One North Sectional championship Monday night?

 

Didn’t think so, since 18 regular-season league games ended in deadlocks.

 

READING's Sean Verrier passes puck as three Wilmington defenders converge on him in second period action.
READING’s Sean Verrier fires slap shot under the watchful eyes of several Wilmington defenders.

Reading senior Mike Thomson ended the Tsongas Arena drama after two and one-half hours when he lifted a backhander over the glove of Wilmington senior goalie Drew Foley in the 11th round of the shootout for a 4-3 win that sent the Rockets to Sunday’s Division One State Championship game against South champion Braintree at TD Garden (TBD).

 

The outcome ended the remarkable 13-game post-season winning streak of Wilmington and Foley (41 saves). The two-time defending Division Two State Champion Wildcats advanced to the North Sectional title game in their first Division One campaign.

 

READING's Matt Thomson fires home the Rockets' second goal in their 4-3 win over Wilmington that went to 11 rounds of a shootout before finally being decided.
READING’s Matt Thomson fires home the Rockets’ second goal in their 4-3 win over Wilmington that went to 11 rounds of a shootout before finally being decided.

After the teams skated to a 3-3 tie through two periods, Foley and opposite number Ian Lapham (29 saves) went into lockdown mode through the third period and two overtimes.

 

The Thomson brothers, Matt and Mike, gave Reading a quick 2-0 shootout lead but Foley stopped the next eight shots before Mike Thomson’s winner. For Wilimington, Cody McGowan (third shot) and Steve DeFuria (fifth shot) solved Lapham, who then stifled six Wildcats in a row.

 

Liberty Division champion Reading (16-8-2) grabbed an early 1-0 lead on defenseman Danny Schmidt’s wrister from the right point at 2:08 and went on to control pace and tempo through the first 10 minutes of play.

 

Wilmington, runner-up in the league’s Freedom Division, found its legs and asserted itself in the period’s latter stages, drawing even at 14:12 when Austin O’Neal pounced on an in-zone turnover and snapped a quick shot between Lapham’s pads.

WILMINGTON'S Austin O'Neil gets the Wildcats on the board after breaking in alone on Reading goalie Ian Lapham in first period
WILMINGTON’S Austin O’Neil gets the Wildcats on the board after breaking in alone on Reading goalie Ian Lapham in first period

 

More sloppy play in its own end cost Reading early in the second period and Luke Foley’s second-chance whack at the puck found the net for a 2-1 Wilmington lead at 1:38.

 

The Rockets tied it shortly thereafter on some brilliant work by the freshman Matt Thomson, who worked his way out of the left corner for a quick backhand, then gathered in his own rebound and snapped it past Foley’s stick side to make it 2-2.

 

One final exchange of goals occurred when the Wildcats’ Justin Collins whipped a wrist shot from the low right slot past Lapham on the power play at 9:44; and the Rockets’ Sean Verrier deflected defenseman Mike Siebold’s fluttering wrist shot from the point past Foley at 14:02.

 

Siebold was involved at both ends throughout the night, delivering a series of crunching open-ice hits and initiating offense whenever possible.

 

Wilmington finished the year at 15-4-7, including season-opening and season-ending losses to the Rockets.

 

 

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