Norwell began its quest for the MIAA Boys Division 4 state title back in December with a win over Sandwich and that is exactly how their incredible journey came to a close.
The Clippers’ nearly perfect season ended in the best way they could imagine. At 3:31 of overtime senior Timmy Ward netted the overtime winner in a thrilling 4-3 win over Sandwich.
It looked like Norwell was in full control after jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, but Sandwich never quit and proved why they were in the final for the second consecutive year.
Norwell fought all season long and itled them to this moment where for the first time in program history, they can call themselves state champions.
“It is almost not real,” said Norwell head coach Jim Casagrande. “There was a real momentum swing in this game and they came right back every time. The kids re-grouped in the locker room. Timmy (Ward) didn’t score up to that point and when I saw him going I was like ‘here we go’ and he put it home. It is really a special feeling for these kids. It has been 15 years here and 22 coaching high school hockey and this is a special group of kids.”
Norwell came out with some early pressure, but Sandwich goalie Mitchell Norkevicius looked good early on. After dominating most of the first period, the Clippers broke through at 9:08 when Quinn Simmons fired one home from right in front.
The score remained 1-0 heading into the second when Norwell doubled their lead. Sandwich couldn’t clear the puck out front and it bounced right to Nolan Petrucelli who buried a shot to put the Clippers up 2-0.
That all changed in a hurry as Sandwich came storming back. At 5:29 of the second senior captain Colin McIver broke through the defense and did a nice back-handed move around Norwell goalie Sean Donovan to put Sandwich on the board.
Later on in the period, the Blue Knights struck again to tie the game at two. Devin Mahoney slid a nice pass across to junior Jack Connolly, who sniped one home to make it a whole new game at 2-2.
At 14:19 of the second, Austin Shea buried one coming in from the left wing side to put the Clippers back on top 3-2 heading into the final period of play.
“We really had to take it one shift at a time,” said Casagrande. “I have been really emotional thinking about the kids skating here all week. But, it was almost too busy of a game to think about anything.”
Sandwich did everything they could to tie the game and at 7:50 of the third, junior Avery Richardson was the hero, firing one home from the slot on a power play.
That sent the game into OT, which both teams are very familiar with. Sandwich knocked out Norwell in the semis last season in double OT and Sandwich needed OT to win the state title last season against Watertown.
At 3:31 of overtime Ward, who had been pointless up until then, was due for a big moment and he went coast to coast, starting behind his own goal, and ending by sliding one past Norkevisius to give the Clippers their first ever state championship.
“Timmy (Ward), Austin (Shea), Quinn (Simmons), Nolan (Petrucelli) and Kevin (Leary) on defense have all been so good all season,” said Casagrande. “But, the key to this game was my third line. They pinned down Sandwich’s first line and logged us some minutes.”
Casagrande will have to let the moment settle in but for now he is just so proud of what this program has accomplished and can’t wait to see what comes next.
“It is amazing to finally win,” said Casagrande. “Being on the bench and seeing all the kids that set the table is incredible. We have had an incredible program because we have had kids stay and they stay because of teams like this.”