Westfield failed to get through one coastal North Shore town for its third state title two years ago. On March 17, the Bombers took on that town’s next-door neighbor and this time prevailed. Two years after losing to Marblehead in the Massachusetts Division 3 boys hockey state championship, Westfield shut down the Cinderella story that was Swampscott in a 4-1 victory at the TD Garden.
The Bombers got two goals from senior forward Adam Collier and built a 3-0 lead after two periods en route to their third state title under head man C.B. Matthews Jr. Senior goalie Nick Liberto turned away 22 Big Blue shots for Westfield, which finished the season at 18-2-2. Swampscott, which before this season hadn’t won a postseason game since 1969, ended its best campaign in school history at 19-6. It knocked off St. Joseph’s Prep, Marblehead, Bedford and Medway en route to the TD Garden.
The Big Blue missed out on six power-play opportunities, collecting only four shots in those man-advantage situations. “We just rushed things with the puck,” Swampscott coach Gino Faia said of his team’s power plays. “And we weren’t able to put shots on net.” When Swampscott did shoot on net, Liberto was there to make the stop. Swampscott’s Robert Serino was the only one to beat him when the senior forward wrapped around the back of the net to Liberto’s left and stuffed it home past the goalie’s left skate to cut Westfield’s lead to 3-1 with 8:55 left in the last period. “Goaltending,” Matthews Jr. said when asked the key to the victory. “He got us here, and he kept us in the game.”
Faia said he was proud of his team for “showing character and battling until the end.” “We had a history-making season,” Faia added. “It was our first ever state final. The seniors have a lot to be proud of going out like this.” Westfield opened the scoring in the first period when sophomore forward Connor Sullivan took a cross-ice feed from Chris Sullivan and beat Swampscott goalie Tristan Bradley (21 saves) glove-side with 4:26 left. And with just 40 seconds left in the period, Collier took a similar feed from Sean Spohr and scored his first of the night for a 2-0 edge. Anthony Cagliostro had an empty-netter for Westfield in the third. “This is a good feeling,” Matthews Jr. said. “The third may be the best.”