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Mass. D1 North Final: St. Mary’s knocks off defending champ AC, 3-1

After being overlooked by the Division 1A Tournament Committee on Selection Saturday, St. Mary’s of Lynn could have let its disappointment ruin a terrific regular season and exited quietly from the post-season. There are several examples of this happening to teams before them.

Rather than lament their lot, the Catholic Central Large co-champion Spartans re-focused and went about the business of securing the next available prize, a Division One State Championship. Now only South champion Franklin stands between coach Mark Lee’s club and that goal.

“We are excited to be playing on the last day of the hockey season and look forward to this challenge,” Lee said.

ST. MARY's forward Tom Frati battles for puck with Arlington Catholic's Kevin Morrissey during first period of Monday night's MIAA D1 North final won by the Spartans, 3-1. (Jamie Callery photo)

ST. MARY’s forward Tom Frati battles for puck with Arlington Catholic’s Kevin Morrissey during first period of Monday night’s MIAA D1 North final won by the Spartans, 3-1. (Jamie Callery photo)

While No. 11 Arlington Catholic fired the opening salvo in Monday night’s North Sectional championship game at The Tsongas Center, the No. 4 Spartans won the battle, 3-1, capturing the program’s first D1 North crown while completing a three-game season sweep of their league rivals. St. Mary’s won both regular-season games, 2-0 and 4-1, 10 days apart in mid-January.

With the victory, the Spartans (21-5-0) are now guaranteed to finish no worse than tied for the most wins in Division One — only B.C. High can match them — and will seek their first State championship Sunday (TD Garden, TBD). Arlington Catholic, the defending Sectional champion, which had knocked off three straight Middlesex Liberty Division heavyweights (Woburn, Winchester and Reading) to reach the title game, finishes 11-9-4.

“St. Mary’s played extremely well; they were a step ahead all night. The better team won. We didn’t have the legs. We ran out of gas. I looked at the scoreboard in the first period and we were being outshot, 10-2, and I said ‘Holy smokes, we’re winning.’ We had one chance to score and we did,” said AC coach Dan Shine. “After graduating so many from last year, our identity became one of a team that was going to outwork everyone and let the chips fall. It took a heroic effort to get to the North final.”

DANTE MARIBITO of St. Mary's looks to corral puck while AC's Mike Balboni (14) and Jack Bertolami defend. St. Mary's won D1 North title with 3-1 win. (Jamie Callery photo)

DANTE MARIBITO of St. Mary’s looks to corral puck while AC’s Mike Balboni (14) and Jack Bertolami defend. St. Mary’s won D1 North title with 3-1 win. (Jamie Callery photo)

Still, the Cougars struck first, taking a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game when senior defensemen Kevin Morrissey snapped his 11th of the season past Spartans’ junior goalie Andrew LoRusso from the right faceoff circle at 3:45 of the first period, set up by senior Matt Solviletti. LoRusso wouldn’t yield another but AC junior Matt Anderson wouldn’t surrender anything for a good long while.

“You only go as far as your goaltender in post season and Andrew has really stepped up his game for us. He has been the backbone of this run along with an entire team giving everything they have to be successful,” Lee said.

The game turned after St. Mary’s killed a four-minute major boarding penalty midway through the second period.

“We never mustered anything. We moved the puck pretty well but never had a really good chance. Great kill by them,” Shine said of St. Mary’s.

After the kill, sophomore Ryan Turenne tied it with 5:04 left in the period, assisted by senior Tom Frati and junior Mike Desmond. That was followed by junior Dante Maribito’s goal with 1:37 left in the period that put the Spartans ahead for good. Senior captain Connor Foley’s power play goal at 5:21 of the third period, from Maribito and junior Andrew Kreamer, sealed it. Maribito and Foley continue to share the team lead with 21 goals apiece.

“Tom Frati has had a very good post season. He had both goals against Chelmsford [2-1 quarterfinal win]. Connor Foley is one of only four seniors and missed almost his entire junior year with a broken collarbone. He is one of the best captains I have coached in my 30 years. He leads not only by example but always in a positive way,” Lee said.

The Spartans’ defense has been superb throughout the post-season as they outscored Sectional opponents by an 11-4 aggregate margin. Kreamer, senior Brady McLaughlin (7-14-21) and junior Marc Zampanti (13 points) have been stout on the blue line.

St. Mary’s won three consecutive Division Three North Sectional titles from 1999-2001, then claimed the Divsion Two North crown in 2002. Of note: the school’s boys basketball team also claimed a title Monday night, winning EMass. Division 4.


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
Kevin Doyle
- 12 hours ago