Canton boys’ hockey wastes no time in locking up return trip to TD Garden, Division 2 state final

It was even, but not for the first four minutes. Just 58 seconds into the third, Canton took a 1-0 lead with a goal from Brennan Pecararo, assisted by AJ Thomas and Eddie Gillis.

At 2:22 a.m. it was 2-0 through a goal by Sean Connolly, assisted by Eamon Kelly. Less than a minute later it was 3-0 after another Connolly goal, this time with Brendan Tourgee and Pecararo assisting. The blitz continued when Gillis scored a goal without an assist. Only 4:21 into the game and Canton led 4:0. The period ended with Canton having a 15-7 shooting advantage.

Canton didn’t let up in the second period either, going 5-0 down on Thomas’ goal just 1:23 into the period. It went 6-0 after Pecararo’s second goal, with assists for Brian Middleton and Pat Drury. With that goal, Gloucester goalie Nick Tarantino drew in favor of Riley De Haan.

But give Gloucester (19-5) credit, the Fishermen cut the lead to 6-2 with goals from Joe Orlando (assisted by Emerson Marshall and Brett Cunningham) and Cunningham (assisted by Jack Costanzo and Marshall).

Canton beat Gloucester 12-11 in the second period and took a 6-2 lead in the final 15 minutes.

The last quarter was scoreless until Costanzo scored a power play goal with 55 seconds remaining. But at this point, Canton fans were making plans for a trip to the garden. The Bulldogs played there in 2019 but missed 2020 when the state finals were canceled due to COVID.

Bulldogs newcomer Colin Davis had 22 saves on the net.

State of Division 3

Hanover 1, location 0 — Two years to the day, March 15, 2020, Hanover was scheduled to play Longmeadow in the Division 3 State Championship Game at TD Garden.

Then COVID struck. The game was abandoned and co-champions were declared.

The sophomores on this team were determined to earn their chance to skate on the Bruins’ home ice, and with the 2021 postseason canceled they were left with one last chance.

On Tuesday night at the Gallo Ice Arena in Bourne, these seniors put that mission into action with a win over Patriot League Fisher Division rivals Scituate in the Division 3 semifinals.

“It feels great,” senior Robbie Hanna said. “We still have work to do.”

In a decade-long rivalry, Tuesday marked the first playoff meeting between the third-ranked Hawks (17-7-1) and second-ranked Sailors (18-8) since 1999, when they faced each other in the Division 3 South quarterfinals. After splitting two regular-season games this year, Tuesday night’s rubber match proved how even they were, with Scituate goaltender Cole Coyne (28 saves) keeping his team at bay despite Hanover’s puck dominance until the last second. The Hawks ended up with a 29-15 shot lead.

“It was a great fight,” said Hanover coach Jonny Abban. “I couldn’t be happier. It’s a long loop. These kids stuck with it and believed in it. I’m happy for you. I’m really.”

In the end, the difference was Hanna’s goal in the 95th second of the second period. Hanna took a pass from senior Jack Watson and unleashed a laser just inside the blue line.

“I saw the whole left side open,” said Hanna. “I just threw it in the net and it went in.”

Hanover, who lost the Division 3 title game to Shrewsbury in 2018, will battle top-seeded Marlborough (21-1-1) for their fifth state championship (1997, 2001, 2007, 2020) on Sunday.

“We cut our work out for ourselves,” Abban said. “You have to come and compete. It’s another level now. You are playing for a state title.”

State of Division 4

Sandwich 3, Norwell 2 — Sandwich coach Jordan Mohre had no doubt. Neither does the Blue Knights bench.

Even sophomore Jack Connolly felt something magical was about to happen when he collected a pass in the neutral zone and sped up the ice in the second overtime of the Division 4 semifinals at the Gallo Ice Arena with 27 seconds remaining as a breakaway.

One on one with Norwell’s newcomer goalie Quinn Devin, Connolly went up right for a walkoff goal and the excitement of top seed Norwell. Sandwich advances to Sunday’s state championship game against No. 2 Watertown at TD Garden.

“Once he got the puck between the red line and the blue line, we knew he was going in,” said Mohre, whose fourth-seeded Blue Knights (17-4-3) are promoted to their first state title game in 14 years. “Everyone on our bench was ready to celebrate. Jack has ice water in his veins and bullets in his glove.”

Connolly, who scored the first goal of the game with his right skate, praised the team’s stamina as they endured more than 60 minutes of hockey.

“We’re a very well-trained team,” he said. “It really paid off in that moment.”

Mohre agreed: “Most conditioned team in the country. We talk about that all year long. I’m hard on these guys. We don’t skate for punishment, we skate for third thirds and overtime and double overtime. We skate when we’re tired and think we’re out.”

After Connolly Sandwich accidentally gave Sandwich a 1-0 lead after a pass from junior Colin McIver in the first period, Norwell (21-2-0) went on to score the next two goals. Joe Daly tied it up with a rebound midway through the second third, then Kevin Leary put the Clippers ahead when he went from just inside the blue line early in the third five holes.

Sandwich responded less than three minutes later when McIver drilled one home from the point. Blue Knights goaltender Mitchell Norkevicius finished the game with 32 saves, including nine between the two overtimes. Devin stopped six shots in the second overtime alone and finished the game with 23 saves.

Correspondent Brendan Kurie reported from Bourne.

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