Watertown hockey wins first tourney game in three years!
No. 12-seeded Raiders beat Wayland, 4-1; advance to play Dracut/Tyngsboro on Saturday
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Playoff hockey is finally back in Watertown, and the Raiders wasted no time getting back to form.
Thanks to 3 points from senior Alex Egan, the Watertown Raiders beat the Wayland Warriors, 4-1, on Thursday night in the first round of the MIAA Division 3 North state hockey tournament.
It was a packed house and an electric atmosphere at John A. Ryan Arena in Watertown, where the 12th-seeded Raiders (9-8-4) used the home ice to their advantage, never allowing the fifth-seeded Warriors (9-9-3) to lead in the matchup.
Senior defenseman and captain Luke Murphy, who was a beast on the both ends of the ice for the Raiders, credits the offensive efforts of the forwards as a large factor in the win.
“I don’t know if they were saving it for the playoffs or what, but it worked,” Murphy joked.
Freshman forward Nathan Master started the game’s scoring, finding the puck on a pass delivered by Egan through a pile in front of the crease and depositing it in the back of the net to put the Raiders up at 12:11 of the first period.
Two minutes and twenty-four seconds into the second period, sophomore forward and assistant captain Nicholas DiPace capitalized on a hard rebound off the end boards to score what would be the deciding goal, making it 2-0.
Wayland got one back as it scored a 4-on-4 goal at 12:04 of the second period. The Warriors had a 2 on 1 and sophomore Michael Boschetto found the back of the net from the right slot.
In the third, Wayland dominated possession as it peppered shots on junior goalie and assistant captain Kevin Greene. However, Greene stayed strong and came up with eight saves in the third period alone.
Watertown brought some of this zone pressure on themselves as they picked up three penalties on the game and two in the final period. The penalty kill had to come up strong for the Raiders, and it did, led by Murphy. He delivered huge hits on the Warriors all night to the delight of the Watertown fan section.
Murphy’s toughness was best illustrated during a Wayland power play early on in the period. A pass through the crease gave a Warrior forward an open net with Greene out of position. But a diving Murphy slid in on his stomach and blocked the puck to protect the lead and the game, denying the would-be tying goal.
Murphy was quick to deflect praise to his goaltender.
“[Greene] saves pucks all night long, the least I can do is block one or two here and there for him,” he said.
In the closing minutes of third period, the Raiders finally put the Warriors away. A Murphy hit in the defensive zone gave Watertown possession and Egan pushed the puck up the left side. He drew the defender toward him, and slid a pass over to senior captain Brett Sutherland, who launched a one-timer into the top of the net at 13:37 to put the Raiders up, 3-1.
“I was hoping the defender would dive so I could slide it over to [Sutherland], but he never did,” said Egan. “So I just passed it to him and hoped for the best and it ended up working well.”
Less than a minute later, Egan would add a goal of his own for this third point of the night, an empty-netter with 39.5 seconds remaining to make the score 4-1.
Moments after, the Raiders rushed onto the ice to embrace their goalkeeper when the final buzzer sounded, giving them their first playoff victory since 2016.
The Raiders next face-off against fourth-seeded Dracut/Tyngsboro (11-7-3) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Chelmsford Forum in Billerica, and Egan has just one request of the Watertown fans:
“Pack that rink.”
–Feb. 28, 2019–
Nathan Follett is a longtime member of the Raider Times staff. Beginning in September 2018, he is serving as Sports Editor.