After erasing a two-goal third-period deficit in its Division 3 quarterfinal win, Marlboro was hardly going to be daunted when faced with a quick one-goal hole in Monday night’s semifinal matchup with Lynnfield at Tsongas Center.
In certainly helped that the top-seeded Panthers could rely on many of the same weapons who spearheaded their comeback win three nights earlier against Danvers. And one other player who stepped up when needed most.
Marcus Chrisafideis scored twice – giving him eight goals in three playoff games and 38 on the season – but it was Noah Lind’s goal 58 seconds into the third period that ended up being the difference as the Panthers held on to beat the #4 Pioneers, 3-2.
Marlboro will return to the Garden for the first time since winning the D3 state title in 2005, and will face either #2 Scituate or #3 Hanover.
Lynnfield, looking for its first state championship since 1996, got off to a strong start and jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 6:17 into the game. The Pioneers, who featured some potent weapons of their own, also went to the secondary scoring as Jarett Scoppettuolo skated down the right boards and fed the puck to the front of the net, where his brother Tyler Scoppettuolo charged in and knocked it past Panthers goalie Dan Esteves.
Marlboro started to create some chances, but it stayed a 1-0 game until 3:12 left in the second period, when the Panthers dynamic trio of Chrisafideis, Mark Evangelous and Jeremy Lacroix combined for the equalizer. Lacroix crossed into the zone and over to the right circle on a 2-on-1, drawing the defense enough to slide a pass to the doorstep, where Chrisafideis deftly tipped it past Lynnfield goalie Phineas Mitchener.
Just 1:54 later, the Panthers were in the lead. Lacroix had the puck in the right corner and appeared to be looking for a feed to the post that missed connecting. But it slid right into the high slot, where Chrisafideis was waiting to hammer it home off the right post.
Chrisafideis appeared poised for a natural hat trick when he broke free in the opening seconds of the third, only to be denied by Mitchener with a stick save. But Lynnfield’s good fortune disappeared seconds later as Lind came into the zone to the top of the left circle and, using a defender as a screen, wristed one far side to make it 3-1 with 14:02 to go.
It turned out to be a huge goal when Lynnfield top scorer Chase Carney carried the puck behind the net and then slipped it to the crease, where Will Steadman banged it past Esteves to cut the deficit in half with 11:47 to play.
The Pioneers had two power plays in the game’s final 4:32, and the likes of Carney, Steadman, Drew Damiani and Aidan Burke put it yeoman’s work looking for the tie. But Marlboro’s penalty kill was just as effective, and Lynnfield’s last-gasp efforts went for naught.