March 3, 2022 is a day that will forever remembered by the Essex Tech boys hockey program.
With just 1:45 left in overtime, Logan Casey tipped a shot from Armani Booth past Bedford goalie Tim Mead to give the Hawks a 1-0 win in the round of 32 of the Division 3 MIAA tournament.
The playoff win was the first in program history and sends the No. 17 Hawks (15-3-3) to the round of 16 where they will face top-seeded Marlborough Monday night at Navin Rink (7:00pm) will be waiting.
Bedford was seeded 16th and its season ends at 11-7-3.
“We dominated overtime, had a lot of chances and there was one point where I started to think it might not happen for us,” said Essex head coach Mark Leonard. “They stuck with it. That’s a tough team, on the road…we made history. It’s the first time the school’s ever won a state tournament game for hockey.
“We’re really proud.”
This one was all about the goaltenders as Essex Tech’s Kyle Mahan (33 saves) and Mead (31 saves) both stood on their head at times to keep the game scoreless.
The first period was fairly even with a slight edge to Essex Tech, but Mead was able to hold the fort. The second period was a flat out clinic by Bedford, outshooting the Hawks 17-6 in the frame, but Mahan stood tall. There were some frantic moments in the frame as Bedford swarmed the net and the puck managed to trickle behind Mahan twice, but somehow he and his defensemen were able to keep it out both times.
“I think the first and third were pretty even, that second period they really took it to us,” added Leonard. “Kyle was tremendous in that second period when we needed him.”
“You can’t get too far ahead of yourself,” Mahan said of his mentality in such a tight game. “Keep focused on the next shot, stay in the present tense and just focus on your breathing.”
Essex took a holding call with 9:30 left in the game but Bedford couldn’t capitalize. With 4:28 remaining, Mead made two huge saves, the first on a 2-on-1 rush. The teams eventually headed to an eight minute, four-on-four overtime period where Casey was able to make history.
“It’s amazing,” said Casey. “I saw the shot from Armani Booth, it hit off my stick, went into the net and everything else from there is just a blur.”
Getting the first one out of the way is nice, but now the Hawks want more.
“Right back to it, practice everything,” added Casey. “We’ve just got to go back to work on our weaknesses and learn from this game.”