There is a common paradox that asks, “What happens when the irresistible force meets the immovable object?”
To put it in hockey terms, what will happen when a potent line led by the top goal-scorer in the state faces off against a battle-tested team that has been nearly impossible to crack in the postseason?
The answer might come when top seed Marlboro meets #3 Hanover for all the marbles in the MIAA Division 3 boys hockey championship Sunday (11 a.m.) at TD Garden.
The teams nearly collided in the season-opening Jim Gormley Cup, but Marlboro (21-1-1) lost to D4 finalist Sandwich in a shootout after battling back for a 3-3 tie in regulation and overtime. Hanover then beat Sandwich, 3-2 in the title game.
“Obviously you set goals for the start of the year, and I think probably on every team’s list is you want to set the goal really high,” Marlboro coach Mike O’Brien said. “Until you get to the final eight, that’s when maybe you look at things and say to yourselves, maybe we’ve got a chance.”
With this matchup finally a reality, in this case the “irresistible force” comes in the form of a dynamic Panthers trio led by senior Marcus Chrisafideis (37-26-63). He sat out because of injury in the team’s only loss this season against Nashoba (the CMADA Class A championship game during February vacation), as well as the D3 tournament opener against Ludlow, but resumed his scoring role quickly upon returning. Chrisafideis scored four times against Essex Tech and had two more in the second period of the state semifinal against Lynnfield, quickly flipping the script in an eventual 3-2 Marlboro win.
Senior captain Mark Evangelous (17-28-45) added a key hat trick in a quarterfinal comeback victory over Danvers, including the game-winner in overtime. Senior Jeremy Lacroix (26-20-46) is another top scorer, and senior Noah Lind (3-10-13) had the game-winner in the opening minute of the third period against Lynnfield. Senior Braden Deckers (11-7-18) and junior Sam Miele (9-12-21) provide good support for the top line. Marlboro’s 124 goals are fourth among all boys teams in the state.
Defensively, O’Brien looks to senior captains Collin Tunnera (4-13-17) and Anthony Fantasia (2-7-9), as well as sophomore Luc Masse (2-11-13). Junior Dan Esteves (2.20 GAA) has emerged in goal, although junior Matt Lacroix (2.07 GAA) also has seen regular time.
Marlboro last won a state title in 2005, but Hanover (17-7-1) has much more recent experience. The Hawks were declared co-champions in 2020 when the state finals were canceled, but last played at TD Garden in 2018, falling to Shrewsbury. Hanover does have D3 state championships from 1997, 2001 and 2016, as well as a D2 title in 2007.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Hanover coach Jonny Abban said following the state semifinal win. “You have to come and compete. It’s a different level now. You’re playing for a state title.”
To add another, the Hawks will be relying on their “immovable object” on the back end. In this case, it’s a total commitment to defense in front of junior goalie Liam Monahan, as Hanover has allowed just one goal in its four tournament victories. Monahan (1.59 GAA) has three of his four shutouts in the postseason, including a 1-0 victory over rival Scituate in the semifinals.
Senior Zack Lee (2-16-18) has led the defensive effort in front of Monahan, along with seniors Thao Lanagan (4-7-11), Nate Curtis (3-2-5), Jack Watson (2-6-8) and Nolan Faherty (2-5-7).
While not as potent as Marlboro’s big guns, Hanover has a top scoring trio of its own led by senior Robbie Hanna (18-27-45). He had the lone goal in the win over Scituate, and is joined up front by fellow senior Max DaSilva (12-25-37) and impressive freshman Mikey Munroe (17-18-35). Seniors Quinn Brown (8-4-12) and Charlie Cataldo (5-7-12) also have had solid seasons.
After scoring 13 combined goals in their first two tournament wins, the Hawks have been held to just three in the last two, but still pulled out a pair of tough wins over Medway and then Scituate to make it to the final day.