Photo: Belmont High’s Peter Grace, with the C on his jersey, celebrates with his teammates the 4-0 victory over Chelmsford in the first round of the 2022-3 MIAA Div. 1 Hockey State Championships.
Not a bad way to close the doors to the ol’ Skip.
In the final scholastic game to be played in the venerable – but completely dilapidated – Skip Viglirolo Ice Skating Rink, the Belmont High Boys’ Ice Hockey squad sent the home fans of the near sell out crowd happy as the entire lineup of 10th-ranked Marauders did Yeoman’s work sweeping aside a strong Chelmsford squad in the first round of the Division 1 state championship on Thursday, March 2.
Belmont dominated all parts of the game, controlling the pace of play with a stout defense and free flowing offense keeping the Lions caged in their end for the 45 minutes, making for a long night for Chelmsford sophomore tender Mark Bierwirth (40 saves on 44 shots).
Player of the Match was senior defender and co-captain Peter Grace who scored the brace from distance and teamed with his long-time line-mate senior co-captain Joseph Gaziano to prove again they are one of the best D pairing in the state. The three defensive lines limited the Lions’ opportunity to challenge Belmont senior goalie Greg Federico who made 14 saves Thursday night.
“It was a solid game from the whole team,” said Belmont Head Coach Tim Foley.
The Marauders are off to Canton on Sunday, March 4, for a noon time face off in a Sweet 16 matchup with 7th-ranked Xaverian Brothers High School, a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight battle where the Marauders’ were eliminated in a 2-1 heart breaker.
Belmont took the game straight to Chelmsford scoring three and a half minutes in the first as junior defender Ryan Halloran shot got through a Shay Donahue screen. Chelmsford could not generate an offense to strike back as the Belmont put up a wall on the Lions blue line; on four consecutive break outs, Chelmsford clearing pass was intercepted at the line and sent back behind the net.
“All three lines played the system well of forechecking well, kept our structure and hemmed Chelmsford in their zone which is a good, hardworking team,” said Foley. “Our game plan was to wear them down and it worked.”
The first eight minutes of the second stanza witnessed a continuous march of Marauders into the penalty box with the Lions skating 5-3 for nearly three minutes. But the defense along with senior forward Cam Fici were rock solid on the penalty kill, ending the deficit even in shots on net at one.
Back at even strength, it was four-year starter Grace who doubled Belmont’s lead with a rocket from the left circle that clanged off the crossbar and in.
It wouldn’t be a Belmont game if there wasn’t a Fici goal, and the fan base was not disappointed as the Marauders’ sniper snapped the goal in from the left circle early in third. Unlike when Chelmsford held a two-man advantage, Belmont was like a cat with a cornered mouse; you knew how this was going to end: Grace walking in and burying the puck by Bierwirth to finish the scoring.