At the outset of the Super 8 Tournament, many doubted the Xaverian hockey team, but two impressive wins for the Hawks over the past week against Austin Prep and Arlington have quickly silenced the naysayers. Coming into the March 11 contest against #3 seed Hingham, the team appeared to be underdogs once again, but when the players hit the ice, the Hawks proved to be a powerhouse.
With a hard-fought 3-1 victory, Xaverian notched their third consecutive Super 8 win (fourth including the play-in game), a record number in the program’s history since switching to the Super 8 format. They have advanced to the semifinals of the tournament. The Hawks are set to face off with #1 seed BC High next for a chance to head to the finals.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Coach Dave Spinale after the win. “I’ll say it a thousand times, these guys don’t want it to end. It’s a really close group. The senior class is amazing - a truly special class - and we knew they would be.”
For the first eight minutes of the game, the two teams traded shots in a back-and-forth affair, but Matt Talarico ’19 soon changed that. Shortly after helping to kill off a Hingham power play, the senior received a pass from Josh Barton ’19 and fired it into the net. Less than two minutes later, Matt Ryan ’20, seeing a loose puck in the slot, corralled it, spun it around, and sent a difficult shot into Hingham’s net for the score. The contingent of once-loud Harbormen fans appeared to be dumbfounded as the Hawks celebrated the goal and headed into the intermission up 2-0.
Both teams appeared evenly matched in the second period, with the goalies starring in this frame. With Hingham on a power play midway through the period, Hawks netminder, James Herring ’19, made two huge stops on a one-timer and a subsequent rebound, giving his team some important momentum as they killed off the penalty. Herring impressed all night, with his 34 saves keeping the Hawks in prime position to record a win. The Xaverian offense was also denied in the second on multiple occasions by Harbormen goaltender Aaron Richardson, who made plenty of big saves as well. When the horn sounded to end the period, the Hawks continued to cling to their 2-0 lead.
Things were looking very good for the Hawks, who were riding on their two first-period goals for most of the game, but they soon looked even better. With 3:08 remaining, Barton played the role of the closer once again, stealing the puck away from Hingham and rushing down the ice, scoring on a breakaway goal to put Xaverian up 3-0. Although the Harbormen answered back with an empty-net goal, the Hawks stayed in the driver’s seat and prevailed, collecting an excellent 3-1 win.
The Hawks toughest test of the year awaits them on March 13, with BC High eager to avenge their recent 3-2 loss to Pope Francis. The winner of this Semifinal matchup will advance to the Super 8 Finals at the TD Garden, where Pope Francis will be waiting. Barton knows that the game won’t be easy, but his team is up for the challenge. “We’re going to have to do the little things,” he said. “We’re going to have to win the battles, forecheck hard. We’re going to have to get grimy goals. They’re a good team. We’re going to have to play the best we possibly can.”
The team needs your cheers and spirit if they are going to advance, so come out to support the Hawks and show your Xaverian pride! We hope to see you and all of your friends at Framingham’s Loring Arena tonight, March 13, for the 7:00 p.m. puck drop. Let’s go Hawks!
Hawks Defeat Arlington in a 5-4 Third-Round Classic and Move on to the Next Round of the Super 8 Tournament
Coming off of a dominant 6-2 win against Austin Prep, the Xaverian hockey team headed into their March 9 matchup against Arlington High with confidence, but they knew that the game would be a challenge. The #4 seed Sky Ponders had been a force on the ice all season. In a contest jam-packed with emotion and energy, the Hawks prevailed, defeating Arlington in a 5-4 thriller.
“That’s a heck of a team over there, and we knew [getting a win] wouldn’t be easy,” Coach Dave Spinale said postgame. “But this is a really resilient group,” he remarked about his team. “They don’t quit, and we’ve shown that all year. At this time of the year, you control two things: your effort and your attitude. There’s a lot of leadership in the room and we didn’t want our season to end.”
After falling behind 1-0 early in the game, Xaverian struck back late in the first period, as a wrist shot from Eric Wainwright ’20 found the back of the net, with Matt Joyce ’19 and Matt Ryan ’20 notching the assist. The Hawks defense had a strong start to the game, along with the impressive play of goalie James Herring, who stopped almost everything in his way.
Heading into the second period, the Hawks capitalized on the momentum that they had gained late in the first. Just 55 seconds in, Ryan tallied a power play goal, assisted by Josh Barton ’19 and Ryan Pomposelli ’20. The teams battled back-and-forth for the next 11 minutes, with multiple players on each team going into and out of the penalty box, until Robbie Barletta ’21 broke the ice, shooting a pass from Ryan into the net. Minutes later, the Sky Ponders headed back to the power play, but that was no match for Barton. The Hawks captain received a pass from Andrew Barton ’21 and flew down the ice, rushing past plenty of traffic, and banged home an impressive shorthanded goal. To make matters even better, the puck passed into the net with .01 seconds left on the clock, and the buzzer-beater silenced the Arlington crowd.
Xaverian looked destined to win the game as the third period got underway, but Arlington was not ready to go down without a fight. The Sky Ponders scored a quick goal 29 seconds into the period, and continued to play a strong game. After two more goals minutes later, the game was tied. To regroup, the Hawks called a timeout late in the period, hoping that this could help them slow Arlington’s momentum and get a good game plan together. Coach Spinale’s decision to do this ended up being a stroke of genius, as the team looked strong and determined after the break. With 53 seconds remaining in game, Matt Talarico ’19 sent a pass over to Michael Pitocchelli ’19, who buried a wrist shot from the left circle into the net to give the Hawks the lead. Both the team and the Xaverian crowd exploded in excitement. “I was just trying to get a shot on net,” Pitocchelli said about the goal afterwards. “I have to shout out to Talarico, who fed me with that dime of a pass and that’s what got me going.”
However, the game was far from over. Arlington called a timeout of their own after the goal, and they too looked strong after the pause in action. The Sky Ponders threw multiple shots at Herring, but the Hawks goalie impressed, stopping all of the attempts he faced to end the game.
The team stormed onto the ice to celebrate, thrilled to have emerged victorious from the difficult challenge.
Xaverian Collects First Super 8 Play Win Since 2008
After dropping their first game to Pope Francis in the Super 8 Tournament, the Xaverian hockey team knew that they had to respond well against their next opponent in order to keep the season alive. On March 5, the team did just that, as they cruised to a 6-2 victory over Austin Prep at the Chelmsford Forum.
Coach Dave Spinale credited his forwards, who he called the “strength of our team,” for “pressuring [Austin Prep’s] defense hard” and continuing to attack the net all night. “Pressure, pressure, pressure to create turnovers,” he stressed. With one of the strongest offenses in the state, the Hawks did exactly what they had done all season en route to the impressive win.
Xaverian got off to a strong start early in the contest, as Michael Pitocchelli ’19 flew down the ice and put a pass from Andrew Barton ’21 into the net for a short-handed goal. Although Austin Prep answered back with a goal of their own a few moments later, the Hawks offense responded well, as Eric Wainwright ’20 deflected a Robbie Barletta ’21 shot into the net to tally a power play goal. Coach Spinale called the late-period score “huge” for the team, as it created momentum heading into the intermission.
The Hawks soared in the second period, outshooting Austin Prep 23-8 and adding a pair of goals. On a breakaway midway through the period, Ryan Pomposelli ’20 scored off of an assist from Josh Barton ’19 to extend the lead to 3-1. The assist was Barton’s 100th career point, an impressive accomplishment for the senior captain! Moments later, after another strike from Austin Prep, Barton continued to have the hot hand, as he quickly sniped a goal to put the Hawks ahead 4-2. During the third period, Matt Ryan ’20 and Barton put the icing on the cake with two more goals to give the Hawks a decisive 6-2 victory.
Highlighted by Barton’s two goals and 20 saves from goalie James Herring ’19, Xaverian’s win put the other teams in the Super 8 on alert. Let’s go Hawks!