The Swampscott High boys hockey team will play in the North Division 3 final at Stoneham today at 4:30 p.m. The third-seeded Big Blue will square off against Bedford after the Buccaneers upset top-seeded Lowell (2-0) in a shootout before ousting fourth-seeded Shawsheen (3-1) in the semifinals.
Bedford is the nine seed at 11-8-3 but Swampscott head coach Gino Faia says his guys are treating the Buccaneers like they are the top team in the tournament.
“The only thing I know is last year they (Bedford) had the number one seed and lost in the North Finals to Wayland, which was the team that beat us. And they’ve only lost two defensemen, so they have pretty much everyone back,” noted Faia. “They’ve got a good goalie and a couple good goal-scorers. We’re going to approach it like we are playing the number one seed.”
Abe Grainger plays between the pipes for the Buccaneers and he is having a phenomenal postseason. He made 33 saves in regulation and overtime in the upset over Lowell and followed it up with another one-goal game against Shawsheen.
Hot goaltenders end seasons frequently and so far Grainger’s been a big reason why the Bucs have sent two strong teams packing. The Big Blue will have to stick to their game plan and play with patience against Grainger. After all, Swampscott has faced some tough goalies throughout this season.
“You just have to get pucks to the net and make him (Grainger) work. And you have to stay patient,” said Faia. “We played some pretty good goalies throughout the year and found that when we stayed patient and didn’t press, we were able to finally crack through. We’re hoping to do the same thing (today).”
In order for Swampscott to stay patient, the Big Blue need to get the job done on defense. If Bedford can net an early goal or two it could force Swampscott to do exactly what Faia doesn’t want, which is to press on offense.