Editor’s note: This is the latest installment in a Sunday series that will run during the COVID-19 pandemic, in which our sports department takes a look back at some memorable sports moments and personalities that we have covered over the years.
In most championship contests, there’s a certain tension when things get underway.
A feeling-out period, so to speak.
For the North Middlesex Regional hockey team in the state 3A title game back in 2014, that opening uncertainty was brief.
The Patriots scored twice in the opening minute against Western Mass. champion Wahconah, storming out to a 5-0 lead after one period and never looking back at the MassMutual Center in Springfield en route to a 12-0 title game victory.
Truth be told, the game on March 13, 2014 was less of a contest and more of an extended coronation.
With three goals in first 2:11, the Patriots put an emphatic stamp on their season, finishing a spectacular 19-3-2 on the season. Danny McNamara was outstanding in the victory, scoring four times and assisting on another goal to cap his career at North Middlesex.
Netminders Ryan Twomey and Marc Frederick split time between the pipes, turning aside all eight shots they combined to face.
Ryan McCarthy’s marker just 19 seconds into the game proved to be all the offense North Middlesex needed in order to claim its 11th straight victory and the state title.
“We accomplished our goals, for sure, this year,” North Middlesex head coach Mike McCarthy said following the victory. “There’s not much more we could do or say. They just played their hearts out down the stretch and were determined to win this thing and bring it back to North Middlesex.”
In all, 13 Patriots notched a point, with seven tallying multiple points as the team ended a 13-game winning streak for Wahconah. McCarthy and Dylan Conner each scored twice, while Brian Walter checked in with a goal and an assist. Josh Miller dished out three helpers.
“That was huge,” McNamara said of the offensive explosion. “We didn’t expect it. We didn’t know how they were, but we came out swinging and established our forecheck and set the tone for the rest of the game.”
With a stranglehold on the game early on, every player got ice time and not one of them gave an inch to the Warriors. By the final horn, North Middlesex held a 38-8 edge in shots on goal.
“This feels good,” McNamara said. “All us seniors worked for four years and it’s good to finally get it. We worked hard for it all season. We put in the effort in the summer, so we worked hard for it.”
The top seed in the Central Mass. 3A tournament, North Middlesex topped Northbridge and Nashoba Regional in the sectional tournament before sneaking past Lunenburg/Ayer Shirley, 3-2, in the Cmass. final.