BOSTON– Goals from four different scorers and a solid defensive performance from the Lynnfield boys hockey team equated to a 4-1 Pioneers win over Watertown in the first round of the Boston Latin School Christmas Tournament Wednesday at Francis Murphy Rink.
Senior forwards Richie Casaletto, Jeff Floramo and Chris Fiorentino, and senior defenseman Jaret Simpson scored one goal apiece. Fiorentino, senior forward George DeRoche and junior forward Robert Tashjian each dished one assist. Senior goalie Aidan Kelley tallied 17 saves.
“We always tell our guys to stick to the system,” Lynnfield coach Jon Gardner said. “The system is five guys working together, up and down the ice, all three zones. The past few games we’ve been getting some guys who generally aren’t on the scoresheet contributing, so that’s huge. We had our third line score a couple goals.”
After a few minutes to even play in the first period, Lynnfield emerged as the more aggressive team. The early efforts paid dividends when Casaletto took Tashjian’s assist for the game’s first goal, giving the Pioneers a 1-0 lead with 9:50 remaining in the period. Fiorentino boosted Lynnfield’s lead to 2-0 on an unassisted shorthanded goal five minutes later. That’s where it stayed at the first intermission.
Watertown couldn’t get much going in the second period, as the Red Raiders struggled to send quality shots in Kelley’s direction. Kelley made a pair of saves within seconds of each other with 4:30 to play to keep Watertown off the board. Floramo cashed in on Fiorentino’s assist for Lynnfield’s third goal of the game with 2:19 left in the period.
Although the Pioneers led 3-0 at the second intermission, Gardner felt they missed out on a handful of opportunities to put the game out of Watertown’s reach.
“We seem to play a good puck possession game,” Gardner said. “Again, our familiar Achilles’ heel is finishing. You can’t be 2-0 halfway through that game. You have to be 3-0, 4-0 after one (period) and that thing has to be well in hand after the second period. Their goalie (Kevin Greene) played well in net but sometimes we like to bail people out and that was a little frustrating.”
A Pioneers penalty opened the door for the Red Raiders to climb back into the game in the third period. Sophomore forward Nick Dipace found the back of the net on a power play (with freshman forward Mason Andrade’s assist) and put Watertown on the board, down 3-1 with 9:47 on the clock.
“Our penalty kill was good right up until the last one where we kind of got a little lost on whose responsibility it was to get to the point,” Gardner said. “We try and limit it to no more than three penalties, one a period, in a game. We want to be lower than three, realistically. If you give up four penalties, you’re going to get punished. We still have to be more disciplined on those penalties.”
Simpson’s power play goal (on DeRoche’s assist) three minutes later sealed the scoring for the 4-1 Lynnfield win.
With the win, Lynnfield (3-1-1) advanced to Thursday afternoon’s (3) tournament championship game against host Boston Latin (1-2-1). The Wolfpack defeated Boston Latin Academy, 7-2, in their first-round game Wednesday.
“We’re really excited to be here,” Gardner said. “We had a tradition of being at Kasabuski but we just kind of wanted to change it up a bit. Being in South Boston’s pretty cool. We took our kids to Fort Independence before the game for a warmup and talked about that a little bit. It’s nice to be here. The tournament’s run real well.”