Tournament week: Watertown boys’ hockey wins opener

Gardiner, Comeau, and Farry score as Raiders advance; WHS girls’ basketball hosts Tewksbury tonight at 7 p.m.

Amin Touri, Raider Times staff

The stakes are always raised come tournament time, but the Watertown High hockey team rose to the occasion in the Raiders’ opening-round game, an impressive 3-1 win over Dracut on Tuesday night in Woburn.

“I thought we played well,” said Watertown head coach Mike Hayes. “We got pucks behind their defensemen and got in on a good forecheck. Our low play in the offensive zone was good, and a lot of shots on net was the result.”

Goals from junior Tyler Gardiner and senior Jeff Comeau gave the Raiders a 2-0 advantage, and Austin Farry’s highlight-reel solo effort sealed the victory for Watertown.

With the opening win out of the way, the Raiders (11-3-7), who are seeded seventh in Division 3 North, move on to face second-seeded Northeast Regional (16-4-0) on Friday, Feb. 27, at 4:30 p.m. in Billerica.

Watertown was clicking on all cylinders on both ends of the ice throughout the contest, behind another strong game from senior goaltender Anthony Busconi (18 saves), with the Raiders outshooting the Middies, 29-19.

“The problem was we only scored three goals on that high shot count,” Hayes said, “so we need to do a better job at putting the puck in the net, really focusing on the shot when we have it.”

It took just six minutes for the Raiders to get on the board, when junior Michael Giordano sent a pass to Gardiner in front and he didn’t hesitate in slotting the puck in the bottom corner to shift the momentum Watertown’s way.

Comeau doubled the Watertown advantage four minutes into the second period. Brendan Berkeley’s blue-line slapshot went wide of the net, ricocheted off the boards behind the net, and fell to Comeau, who was wide open to put the Raiders up, 2-0, going into the final period.

The first big Dracut chance came early in the third period, as a result of a great solo effort by Brian Smith. The Middie forward maneuvered his way past three Raiders and had only Busconi to beat, but the Watertown netminder was out quickly to make a great stop and preserve the two-goal lead.

Dracut senior Brian Goolishian would make things interesting, however, burying a shot past Busconi with eight minutes remaining to cut the WHS lead to 2-1.

Any nervousness on the Watertown end was quickly resolved in the form of Farry, who took the puck in his own end, dodged multiple defenders, and fired a wrist shot past Dracut goaltender Pat Carney, and fired the Raiders into the second round of the MIAA tournament.

“We need to focus on our game, and come to play every night,” says Hayes. “If we do that we will be competitive.”

–Feb. 26, 2015–