WHS Hockey Team is Just 2 Wins Away from State Title
Winthrop High hockey coach Dale Dunbar saw so many good things happening on the ice in Tuesday night’s 6-0 semifinal victory over Saugus that he could have heaped praise straight through to the Division 2 North championship game against Wilmington Monday night at Tsongas Arena.
There was the continued stellar goaltending from senior Steven Waites who has not allowed a goal in victories over Tewksbury (4-0), Boston Latin (1-0), and Saugus.
Offensive firepower? Sensational senior Chris LeBlanc and sophomores Dan Eruzione and Chris Page each scored goals to highlight a dominating effort by the first line. The speedy Eruzione’s behind-the-back pass to a trailing Page for the fifth goal was the exclamation point.
Defensive superiority? Senior Mike Paulson set the tone with a devastating check at the blue line in the first period while defensemen Jimmy Barker (three assists), Adam Lundberg, and Steven Goddard helped stifle a potent Saugus team by stopping rushes and allowing few rebounds.
Splendid moments? Senior forward Matt Todisco stole the puck at center ice and completed his personal breakaway by shooting the puck past the Saugus goaltender to make it 4-0 early in the second period.
Senior Jake McKinnon launched the Vikings on the road to victory at the 4:30 mark when he pounced on a rebound of a Mike Paulson blast and directed the puck into the net. McKinnon was sent sprawling into the boards after his goal but returned to action later in the period.
Mitch Paulson finished off a nifty pass by LeBlanc to make it 2-0 just 90 seconds later. LeBlanc waited for the Saugus defender to commit before sliding a pass to Paulson, whose accurate shot eluded the Saugus netminder.
LeBlanc set up a trailing Eruzione for a goal early in the second period before Todisco made it 4-0 with his individual effort. There would no let-up in the final period as Page and LeBlanc hit paydirt for the 6-0 final.
The only question that remained was whether Waites and the Winthrop defense would make it three shutouts in a row in the postseason and the answer was a resounding yes.
Dunbar spoke about the stinginess of the Viking defense in the post-game interview.
“We pride ourselves on defense so we always try to make sure we’re doing the right things defensively,” said Dunbar. “We concentrate on that and offense comes from defense. We have not given up a goal yet. That’s pretty amazing.”
Dunbar was also pleased by how his team displayed high energy and tenacity in the first period.
“Our main emphasis was to start this game with enthusiasm, take the crowd out of it, score the first goal, and really set the tone – and I thought we accomplished all of our goals.”