As it turned out, Hingham had Arlington Catholic right where it wanted. OK, not really but the Harbormen have been deadly in the third period throughout post-season and were once again Sunday night, scoring twice for a 3-2 come-from-behind win victory in the MIAA Division 1 State title game at TD Garden.
The game-winner came from freshman Marshall Terres with 1:21 to play and OT looming. Stationed in the low slot, Terres chopped defenseman Steve Jacobs’ shot from the left point straight down and the puck skittered crazily past the glove of AC goalie Dylan Morris.
Hingham goalie Matt Personeni (29 saves) had given the Harbormen the chance to win it with 3:57 to play, pushing hard to his left to snag what looked to be a sure Bernie McGovern goal off Ryan Smith’s dish from the left circle. McGovern looked back in disbelief, then skated to the bench, hands on head.
Senior Dan Shea had pulled the Harbormen even with 12 minutes to play, slipping a rebound off the rear wall past Morris (20 saves). Mike Saleski’s original shot from the left point glanced off Morris’s blocker and kicked directly to Shea.
Of the game-winner, Terres said: “I saw him out there and knew I had to get to the front of the net. As a freshman, this is pretty amazing.”
“Truthfully, I would’ve taken the manager scoring at that point,” said Hingham coach Tony Messina, whose club outscored opponents, 10-0, in the third period during the tournament. “To see him do that as a freshman and to see that smile on is face was really great.”
Personeni described his game-changing save thusly: “I just kept my eye on the puck and tracked the guy.”
The State title is the fifth for the Harbormen, who finished 16-8-3 and on a 9-0-2 season-ending tear. North Sectional champion Arlington Catholic wound up 16-8-2. The Cougars controlled some extended stretches of the action and owned a 31-23 edge in shots but couldn’t pierce Personeni.
“We fought through adversity all year. I told them that between the second and third periods. We were 7-8-2 and knew we were a good team but just couldn’t get it figured out, couldn’t get over that hump. But, we got great contributions from all three lines and Matt did a great job tonight,” Messina said.
Personeni and junior Andrew Ehler split time for much of the season but Personeni built some late momentum and Messina stuck with him.
Hingham forged ahead just 1:33 into the game. After defenseman Marc O’Rourke kept the puck in at the blue line, Matt Demelis carried deep on the right side on the backhand. His pass was blocked but the puck popped high in the air and off the top of the net. Billy McNally, at the left post, swatted it past Morris for his fifth post-season goal.
AC mounted an immediate response. Set up by Paul Frisoli and defenseman Mike Balboni, senior Ryan Tierney snapped a shot from the left slot past Personeni’s stick with 12:30 left in the period.
AC carried play through the middle of the period but Hingham’s physicality shifted momentum late and Morris had to make a couple of rapid fire saves on Jack Forbes’ initial shot and follow-up to keep the Cougars even.
Offense was at a premium through the first half of the second period until Personeni flashed the glove to snag Smith’s low bid on the breakaway to keep it tied with 7:33 left in the period.
AC took the lead thanks to a fortuitous bounce. Andrew Somerville’s cross from the left corner intended for Smith hit the skate of a Hingham defender. The puck caromed directly back to Somerville and with Personeni sliding left to cover the far post, Somerville had an easy deposit for a 2-1 lead with 5:28 left in the period.
After Shea tied it early in the third, AC’s Smith (at 3:45) and Matt Solviletti (at 8:01) found iron. Then Personeni stoned McGovern. And Terres stepped up.
“It was like a heavyweight fight. Both teams battled hard for 45 minutes. I could not have asked for more from our team. We had the effort but no puck luck,” said AC coach Dan Shine adding he was proud of the way in which his team handled the disappointment.