By Matt Williams
---- — WOBURN — It’s impossible to say what might have happened if the Masconomet hockey team had survived for another four seconds in the first period last night and exited the opening stanza trailing by only a goal.
Tewksbury’s late goal parked momentum firmly in their corner for the remainder of the night, as the Redmen proved to be too strong, too fast and too relentless for the Chieftains in a 4-1 win in a Division 2 North quarterfinal at Woburn’s O’Brien Rink.
Nick Aleckna’s goal with 9:38 to play in regulation gave Masconomet (15-5-2) some life and cut their deficit to 3-1. The Chieftains cycling game picked up for stretches of the third, but Tewksbury didn’t let them control the offensive blue line and took away the front of the net.
Masco’s Ryan Duval broke in alone with about 4:00 to go, and had his bid to make it a one goal game saved by Tewksbury’s Kyle Paquette.
Then with 2:33 to play, Colin Quinn removed any doubt about his team advancing when he broke in alone and scored to make it 4-1.
The Redmen (16-3-2) advance to Monday’s semifinal against Marblehead at Chelmsford Forum. Tewksbury is chasing its first Division 2 North crown since 2011, while the Headers won the D3 state title in 2011 and were moved up to D2 this winter.
Masconomet wraps up its most successful season since 2007 with a Cape Ann League title and a 15-5-2 overall mark.
The goal that chanced everything came on a wrap around bid by Patrick Leonard in the waning moments of the first. The Tewksbury junior won a loose puck behind the Masco cage and swung to the front. Mitch Nekoroski made the initial save but Leonard used his reach to stuff it home.
Instead of heading to the room after a relatively even first down only a goal, Masco’s hill to climb doubled in size.
It was the second goal of the game for Leonard, who opened the scoring when he buried his own rebound with 11:13 left in the first. Leonard broke in on a 2-on-1 rush, shot at Nekoroski and then lifted his own rebound over the goalie’s shoulder with a backhand.
Tewksbury extended that lead to 3-0 on another 2-on-1 rush midway through the second. This one, which came as a Masco power play expired, saw Quinn feed Dario Riparo for the goal.
Nekoroski made 23 saves in all to keep his team in it. His counterpart at the other end, Paquette, robbed Joe Emma on a breakaway with a glove save in the second.
For the Chieftains, Tyler Costello had a strong game on the blue line, while the line of Aleckna, Emma and Jared Brann generated most of the offense. The top-line of Michael Castro, Joe Griffin and Jake Esposito also played well, but overall Tewskbury forced everything to the outside and controlled the flow of play.
Masco finished 0-for-3 on the power play while the Redmen were 0-for-4.
Tewksbury 4, Masconomet 1
at O’Brien Rink, Woburn
Masconomet: 0 0 1 — 1
Tewksbury: 2 1 1 — 4
First period: T, Patrick Leonard (Mark Gorman, Ross Budryk), 3:47; T, Leonard (un), 14:56.
Second Period: T, Dario Riparo (Colin Quinn), 8:59.
Third Period: M, Nick Aleckna (Jared Brann, Joe Emma), 5:22; T, Quinn (David Dempsey), 12:28.
Saves: M, Mitch Nekoroski 23; T, Adam Paquette 16.
Records: M, 15-5-2; T, 16-3-2.