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March 19, 2013

Swampscott hockey notebook: Big Blue showed poise under pressure during remarkable run

BOSTON — Prior to this March, the Swampscott High hockey program had a grand total of six playoff wins — ever.

The Big Blue nearly doubled that within a 15-day span.

In one of the great stories of the 2012-13 North Shore school sports season, the Big Blue ripped off four straight posteason victories and reached the Division 3 state championship game for the first time in their history. And while they fell short in the final, falling to Westfield, 4-1, Sunday at the TD Garden in Boston, the remarkable run they went on won’t be forgotten by those who watched it unfold.

Following the team’s 10-1 tournament-opening win over St. Joseph’s — Swamspcott’s first playoff win since 1969 — it was put to the test in each of its next three contests. A 4-1 win over favored Marblehead in the Division 3 North semifinals was highlighted by a natural hat trick off the stick of Corey Carmody ... all coming with under 2:01 to play. The first of those goals snapped a 1-1 tie, and he added a pair of empty netters for pull off the stunning upset.

In the Division 3 North final, the Big Blue fell behind by a goal (2-1) to a gritty Bedford squad with under two-and-a-half minutes to play when defenseman Chris Carman tied the score. Then, with just 6.2 seconds left in regulation, junior center Nunzio Morretti gave his team its first-ever hockey title when his goal enabled Swampscott to lift the Division 3 North title.

It was Comeback No. 3 in three games for coach Gino Faia’s team in the state semifinals (i.e., Eastern Mass final) against a favored Medway club. Trailing entering the third period, Swampscott scored three goals before winning the contest with an overtime strike by freshman Noah Maercklein.

The end result was not what Swamspcott had hoped ... but the journey they took to get there will never, ever be forgotten.

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