The Revere High hockey team advanced to the semifinals of the Division 2 North State Hockey Tournament in both convincing and thrilling fashion with a pair of victories last week over Watertown and Lynnfield.
The Patriots, the third seed in the bracket with a 15-2-3 record, were set to meet Lincoln Sudbury (7th seeded at 13-4-3) last night (Tuesday) at Stoneham in the semifinal match as the Journal was going to press. That contest, originally scheduled for Monday, was postponed because of the snowstorm. The winner will go on to the sectional final Thursday at Chelmsford at 6:30 against the victor of the other semifinal battle between Newburyport (8th seed, a 4-1 winner over top seed Winthrop in the quarterfinals) and Tewksbury (the 5th seed and conqueror of North Reading and Wilmington).
“It’s been a great ride,” said veteran RHS head coach Jim Palumbo of his team’s Journey to the Tourney. “It’s been as exciting an experience as I’ve had in my hockey career.”
Regardless of the outcome of last night’s encounter however, Palumbo’s squad already has gone where no RHS hockey team has gone before in more than 30 years by advancing to the semis. Not only did this year’s edition of Patriot skaters set a new school regular season mark of 33 points, but they also cast aside a number of past jinxes with their successes in the tourney last week.
One of those jinxes was eviscerated Friday at Stoneham with the thrilling 3-2 triumph over Lynnfield that came via a dramatic shootout
Revere had fallen victim in the first round in the past two years to the team from just a few miles north on Route 1, including two years ago when the Pats were the top seed and Lynnfield was the 16th seed. But this time around, the Pats were not to be denied.
The contest featured everything one might expect in a state tourney game, with both the teams and their fans riding an emotional rollercoaster from the beginning to the end.
Chris Mastropietro, the Northeastern Conference’s Player of the Year whom Palumbo moved from his usual defense post to forward in the final few games of the season, scored both Revere goals in regulation and then lit the lamp in the shootout to provide the offensive firepower.
Chris got the Pats off and running early when he intercepted a Lynnfield clearing pass and swooped in for the goal only minutes into the contest. However, Lynnfield got that one back with a controversial tally at the buzzer to even matters at 1-1 after the first period.
Mastropietro made it 2-1 in the second frame, with assists going to linemates Jay Sasso and Sean Dean, and the Patriot defense made that margin stand up until just about four minutes left in regulation, when Lynnfield notched the equalizer.
No doubt Revere fans felt that the tourney hex was back in full force, especially against a Lynnfield squad that had been a Patriot antagonist in 2007 and 2008.
But the remainder of regulation, as well as the eight minute OT, saw both teams have great chances, only to be thwarted by equally great goaltending, setting the stage for the dramatic shootout in which both teams send five shooters, one on one against the other’s goalie.
Revere, as the higher seed and the home team, chose to shoot last. Lynnfield failed on its first three chances, as did Revere on its first two. However, Mastropietro beat the Lynnfield goalie on the third Revere shot, sending the Revere fans into delirium.
Revere’s all star netminder Nick DiMare then did his part, thwarting the final two Lynnfield attempts, to seal the triumph.
“It was an incredible game,” noted Palumbo afterwards. “The team played with a lot of heart and poise in a pressure situation.”
The big crowd at the Stoneham Rink, which rink officials said was the largest in memory, certainly got its money’s worth, particularly the triumphant Revere fans and their top Patriot fan, Harry LeGrow, who finally had smiles on their faces on the ride home on Rt. 1 South after so many years of tourney frustration.
Both the Pats and their fandom had an indication that the Lynnfield game might end up in a positive way after Palumbo’s crew dispatched with Watertown in the first round three nights earlier at Woburn, a venue that has proven haunting for Revere teams in the past. The Townies came in as the 14th seed with an unheralded 2-16-2 record. But Watertown’s record typically is deceiving because they play in a tough league and almost always have a sub-.500 record entering the tourney. Indeed, three years ago they advanced to the semifinals as the 16th seed after bouncing top seeded Triton.
But Revere wasted no time in exorcising the ghosts of tourneys past, lighting the lamp three times in the opening frame in a dominating period of hockey in which the Pats outshot their opponents by a 19-2 margin.
Two more goals in the second period and one in the third put an exclamation mark on the big win. The final line score showed Mastropietro with two goals and two assists, and Sasso, Dean, Nick Adreani, and Joe Corbett potting a goal apiece.
The 2008-2009 Patriots already have attained great heights. By this time next week, we’ll know if they have scaled any more mountains.