John McGuirk, Special to ESPNBoston.com
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Landon Hasenfuss says he had never played competitive hockey 3-on-3 style before. During Saturday night’s seventh annual boys Aleppo Shriners MSHCA High School All-Star Classic, the senior was about to experience his first, and it will undoubtedly be one he will never forget.
With the game tied after regulation, overtime rules stated that a five minute 3-on-3 would ensue. The center took his shift on the ice and promptly sent a backhanded shot past Medway goaltender Mike Purnell at 2:03, lifting the South squad to a 4-3 victory over the North inside Loring Arena.
“I was able to break out of the zone and (Frank Cosolito) hit me with a great pass and I spun around the defense, went to the net, and it went in,” said Hasenfuss, who was instrumental in helping lead Hanover to a Division 3 title a week ago. “It was my first 3-on-3 so there was a lot of space out there. I didn’t know the shot went in until I heard the other kids begin to celebrate. I thought it had hit the post so it felt great after I knew it went in.”
In a highly-entertaining contest between some of the most talented seniors state wide, neither team was able to sustain more than a one goal lead throughout. South got on the board first after an odd-man rush set up Michael Pyne’s score. The Bridgewater-Raynham forward, skating in alongside Coyle-Cassidy’s Robbie Holyoke, beat Burlington netminder Nick Howard glove side at 2:22 to take a 1-0 lead.
Things stayed that way until Waltham’s Peter Simeone tied matters just 1:06 into the middle frame. But South went back on top midway through the period. Framingham standout Tyler Anes blazed down the left side before sniping a shot over the catching glove of St. John’s Prep goalie Kyle Martin for a 2-1 advantage.
But the North unit would storm back in the third. Nick Botticelli — who scored the game-winning goal in Malden Catholic’s Super 8 overtime victory over St. John’s Prep last Sunday — continued his relentless offensive attack. Standing inside the right circle, the center ripped a shot that Hingham goaltender Matt Personeni initially stopped. However, the puck squirted through his pads and slid across the goal line to knot things 2-2 at 8:23.
Moments later, Reading’s Liam O’Neill had a golden opportunity to send North in front had it not been for a brilliant save by Personeni _ one of several he made during his time in net. Three minutes following Botticelli’s tally, South answered. Kevin Corcoran, of Duxbury, unleashed a shot from the right dot which evaded Purnell’s catching glove. With under two minutes remaining, North had no choice but to pull out all stops in its quest to deadlock things. It would pay off when Lowell Catholic’s Dylan Poirier struck the back of the net with a laser beam at 13:12 to even this tilt 3-3 and force the extra period.
In overtime, North (26 shots) controlled the early tempo but could not get anything by Personeni.
“I just tried to keep my angles good and I wanted to stay aggressive,” Personeni said. “In 3 on 3 hockey there is a lot of area to move the puck around. You just have to be ready all of the time. This was a good game for a great cause.”
With South holding down the fort, it would set the stage for Hasenfuss’ marker to close this one out.
“This was a lot of fun and I think all of these kids had a blast tonight,” said South and Sacred Heart head coach John MacDonald, his team finishing with 34 shots. “Obviously it helps when you win but this was for a great cause. I know (the Shriners) raised a lot of money tonight and all of these players represented the Shriners quite well. This was an awesome experience for me. As a coach, all you do is open the door and let them go. You put them out there and they just play. All of them are such great kids.”
McLaughlin nets game winner
With time ticking down in the third period and the game tied, North head coach Brian Fontas was starting to plan ahead. Fontas, the head coach at Acton-Boxborough, was contemplating which girls he would link up for a probable 3-on-3 overtime.
But with only 45 seconds left in regulation, Fontas didn’t have to think about it anymore. That’s because center Michaela McLaughlin, pouncing on a rebound in front of the South net, fired a shot past Haverhill’s Michaela Kane, giving the North stars a hard-fought 2-1 triumph in the fourth annual girls Aleppo Shriners MSHCA High School All-Star Classic.
The score was set up after A-B’s Megan Barrett slammed a shot which deflected off of Kane. McLaughlin, an Arlington Catholic standout, alertly moved towards the loose puck before sending it through traffic and into the net.
“I saw the rebound and there was a lot of clutter around the net,” said McLaughlin, whose AC squad fell to Austin Prep in last weekend’s Division 1 state championship. “I just threw it on net and (Kane) didn’t see it. It felt good to get a goal and a relief. It was really exciting to represent my high school one last time. This was a good, competitive hockey game and a lot of these girls have extremely good talent.
“Over the years I have played against many of them so it was nice to finally play alongside with them for a change. This was a great way to end my high school career. I’m going to miss everyone at Arlington Catholic. The team was like my family and it was great to be apart of. That is what I will miss the most.”
A scoreless first period evolved into South grabbing the lead early in the second. At 3:23, Archbishop Williams’ Emma Crocker roofed a shot over A-B goaltender Cali Boblundo. For the majority of the the first two frames, South held the upper hand offensively, putting up 17 of its overall 25 shots on net. But the goaltending, solid on both sides, kept it a one score game after 30 minutes.
“They took it to us during those first two periods,” Fontas said. “We weren’t moving the puck that well out of the defensive zone.”
The offensive tide began to shift in North’s favor during the final period. Having managed just five shots in the second, North started to open things up. Their efforts would be rewarded at 2:07 after Methuen’s Kathleen LeFebre lined a shot from the left circle past Kane, squaring things at 1-1.
“A couple of defensive lapses is all it takes in a game like this,” South head coach and Hingham assistant John Findley said. “Every girl is good and every girl is smart with the puck. All of these girls just get it in terms of where to be on the ice, rotation and gap control. They just figure things out.”
After LeFebre’s tally, things would remain that way until the final minute until McLaughlin’s heroics. South finished with 25 shots while North had 11.
“In the end of the second period and during the third we started to play more aggressively,” added Fontas. “We moved the puck quicker and started to stretch things out. Early on, the girls were getting a feel for each other and that takes a while. It was a fun game and it was nice to pull it out. We were on the bench in that last minute thinking who we wanted to go with 3 on 3 but before we knew it, the puck went into the back of the net and we didn’t have to think about it anymore. Michaela is a great kid and I thought she played very well today. It was very deserving for her.”
One final go-around
Saturday marked the final time Botticelli and Malden Catholic teammate Pat Harrington would play together on the ice as both saw their respective high school careers come to a close. Without question, each has left an indelible mark within the Lancers program, and both will forever be part of the legacy both have helped to create. Botticelli has played varsity since his freshman season, and has been apart of three Super 8 championships. Harrington, a defenseman, came on board as a sophomore and has won two titles.
Said Harrington, “Realizing I just played my last high school game, it is starting of catch up to me a bit and it is emotional. I loved playing the game in high school but I think it is time to move on to bigger and better things and see what I can do out there. Hopefully everything works out for me. This past season was pretty unbelievable because no one thought we would win another championship.”