MIAA Boys Division 4 State Final: #1 Norwell Seeks First-Ever State Title; #2 Sandwich Looks For Repeat Crown

Alexis Demopoulos
Alexis Demopoulos
Alexis is a 2017 graduate from UMass Lowell who currently works covering hockey for Hockey Night in Boston as well as the Worcester Railers JHC & is a sports reporter for the Daily Times Chronicle in Woburn.

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Division 4 is the only division where the top two seeds will square-off and this game promises not to disappoint. #1 Norwell and #2 Sandwich have been at the top of the division all season long and will meet in an epic showdown for the MIAA D4 title on Sunday at the TD Garden (3 PM).

For Sandwich, the defending D4 state champions, they are no stranger to big games, having won the state title last year in a double OT thriller over Watertown.

But, for Norwell it is a different story as this is the first time ever playing at the Garden in their program’s history. Sandwich knocked off the Clippers in double OT in last year’s semi-finals before winning in all.

Norwell (24-1-0) has put on an absolute show this season and have remained unstoppable, not letting anything get in the way of the final this time around. The Clippers have scored 135 goals this winter, averaging more than five goals a game in the post-season.

Their only blemish came back in late December with a 4-2 loss to Duxbury. Since then the Clippers have rattled off 18 straight wins and have one more very important one to get.

Sandwich and Norwell met way back in the first game of the regular season and Norwell was able to get some revenge on the Blue Knights with a 4-1 win. But, a lot has changed since then as Sandwich has grown stronger and has proved they are also a top contending team.

 “I’m not sure the first game will be anything like this one,” said Norwell coach Jim Casagrande. “I think both teams are a lot different from that game. I’m sure it will come down to a play or two.”

The post-season started off a little shaky for the Clippers as they were tied 3-3 with Gardner after two periods before pulling away for a 7-3 victory. Since then they have been on a roll. They beat Norton 5-2, shutout Martha’s Vineyard 5-0 in the quarterfinal and most recently beat a really strong Grafton team 5-1 in the semifinals to punch their ticket to the Garden.

Timmy Ward

The Clippers boast a prolific offense led by seniors Timmy Ward (73 pts) and Austin Shea, who cracked the 100-career point plateau earlier this year. Senior Kevin Leary has been key all over the ice this season along with juniors Quinn Simmons and Nolan Petrucelli and sophomore Matt Cerrutti.

Juniors Aedan Coyle and Charles Booras are key blue-liners and senior Sean Donovan will be in between the pipes for the Clippers.

“For us to win it is going to take 45 minutes of our best hockey,” said Casagrande.  “If we lose focus for even a short period of time, it will be hard to win the game.”

Sandwich (19-4-1) has proved once again to be a force this season and are hungry for back-to-back state titles, a feat that is not easy to do.

The Blue Knights suffered just four regular season losses but went into the postseason on a high note winning nine straight and ten out of 11. So far in the postseason, they have only allowed two goals in four games and senior goalie Mitchell Norkevicius has a lot to do with that. He has been a force in net all season and has only got stronger come tournament time.

The defending champs started off this year’s post-season run with a 7-1 win over St. Bernard’s and followed that up with a 3-0 win against Dover-Sherborn/Weston and a 4-1 win over league foe Dennis-Yarmouth to reach the semis. Sandwich went head to head with another league foe in Nantucket and thanks to a hat trick by senior captain Colin McIver and a shutout by Norkevicius, the Blue Knights found themselves back at the Garden.

McIver (22-28-50) has been a huge driving force for Sandwich this season and reached the 100-point club in the team’s last game. With juniors Chris Cardillo (33-18-51) and last year’s overtime hero Jack Connelly (10-17-27) the Blue Knights have no shortage of offense. Look for James Mawhinney, Harry Delman and Avery Richardson up front as well.

On the blue line, seniors Harley Ellis and Silas Ohman are key along with juniors Shane Corcoran and Dylan McCabe, who are all solid in front of Norkevicius. 

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