Decades from now, the Division 1 state semifinal between Arlington and Xaverian will be one of those games that everyone says they were at.
Officially, Loring Arena can hold about 2,700 people. There was every bit of that on hand to create an electric atmosphere when the No. 6 Spy Ponders and No. 2 Hawks took to the ice with a spot in the D1 state championship game on Sunday at the TD Garden on the line.
Leading by three with 5:46 remaining, it looked as if Xaverian would easily cruise to the title game, but Arlington had other ideas.
The Spy Ponders got three goals in a 1:34 span to stun the Hawks and force overtime. From there, the teams continued to battle into a second overtime. Finally, with 4:42 left in the second extra session, Jack Silva finished off a pass from Braden O’Hara on a 2-on-1 rush just in front of the Xaverian student section, setting off a wild celebration and sending his team to Boston with a 5-4 win.
See Jack Silva’s game-winning goal:
“It was nuts,” said Silva. “Obviously, we thought we were going to win it and then they scored three quick ones. It was crazy, but the boys fought and (O’Hara) gave me the puck, I just buried it in the net and finished the game.”
With 5:46 to go, Max Lockwood put home a rebound after one of seemingly 50 unbelievable saves by Arlington goalie Jake Davies (40 saves) on the night, making it a 4-1 game. Arlington pulled Davies with 3:35 to go and got a gritty goal in front from Drew Fecteau with 2:57 left to cut it to 4-2.
Davies was pulled again with 2:08 left and Arlington pulled within one when Jack Sadowski scored, letting a shot go that somehow got under the pads of Brendan Flanagan (31 saves) to really make things interesting.
Stunningly, with 1:13 remaining, Fecteau scored again, this time tipping a shot off the stick off Ryan Gilbert and sending the Arlington fan base into absolute bedlam.
After a frenetic 4-on-4 overtime period for eight minutes the teams headed to the second frame. The 3-on-3 set up created a bit more space and some up-and-down the ice chances. Silva ended up making a huge play on the back check, getting the puck off of Gilbert’s stick. O’Hara collected it and quickly started the 2-on-1 rush, waited for Davies to come out a bit and then dished it over to Silva who buried it into the open side.
“We’ve got a mature group as everybody knows, a lot of seniors,” said Xaverian head coach David Spinale. “They’ve been with us for a while. The goals (Arlington) got, no discredit to them they’re a well-coached team, very good team that did what they were supposed to do and we let them crawl back in it.
“We knew we were still going to be able to keep coming back and still get our chances…the (team) wasn’t upset, they weren’t pointing fingers. They stuck together and I’m just really proud of how they lifted each other up.”
The Hawks only needed 15 seconds to blow the roof of Loring as Cole Leblanc scored on the first shot of the game. With 11:07 left in the first Xaverian made it 2-0 on a power play goal from Joe DiMartino. Arlington cut it to 2-1 after one thanks to a power play goal from Sadowski.
The second period was somewhat chippy. Xaverian was able to kill off two Spy Ponders’ power plays early and almost made it 3-1 with 5:06 to go, but Davies made a fantastic right-pad save on a 2-on-1. The Hawks did end up making it 3-1 moments later though, as DiMartino collected a puck behind the net, wheeled out around the left post and let a bit of a surprise shot go that beat Davies high, setting up the insane third period.
“Everyone’s getting emotional and chippy and I’m like ‘guys, we can’t do that, we want to play Sunday,” said Spinale of the message in between the second and third. “Exhale, settle everybody down. Let’s just play hockey, keep away from the nonsense, no one’s here to see that, just stick to the game plan. Play hard, play fast, play physical, but the extra curriculars got to stop.
“We settled down a little bit, but then we went in a little bit of a shell and they got a bounce here or there.”
After Catholic Conference rival St. John’s Prep advanced in double overtime against BC High, it sets up an epic Eagles-Hawks clash with everything on the line Sunday at the Garden.
“I’m glad it’s an all-Catholic final to be perfectly honest,” Spinale said with a smile. “It should be interesting and St. John’s Prep is going to be a really tough matchup because they play so hard and heavy, but we’re excited and really looking forward to getting to play Sunday.”
“It’s a huge game between the Catholic Conference,” added Silva upon hearing SJP won their game. “Obviously, it means a lot to both teams, it’ll be a good game.”