By Jean DePlacido
---- — PEABODY — A slow start to the season could have doomed their postseason chances. But after putting together a modest two-game winning streak, the Masconomet hockey team is hoping that momentum will carry over for the rest of the regular season — and hopefully earning them a playoff berth.
The Chieftains defeated Lynnfield, 5-2, Saturday at the McVann-O’Keefe Rink, opening up a close game with three third period scores.
Now at 6-8-1 on the season, Masconomet needs seven out of possible 10 points in their final five games to earn that postseason invitation.
“Making the tournament is within our reach,” said head coach Andrew Jackson. “We have a lot of guys that are new this year, and it took a while for them to adjust to the speed and physicality. Now we’re starting to play together.”
The Pioneers took an early lead on a power play goal by Andrew Crampe, who beat Chieftains goalie Matt Cardillo with 2:55 gone in the opening period. But Masco answered with the next four in a row to put the game away.
Alec DiGiorgio knotted it up late in the first period, capitalizing on a Lynnfield turnover in its own end and walking in alone. He deked goalie Joe Bassi before depositing the puck into the corner of the net.
The Chieftains added a huge goal to go ahead, 2-1, with just 11 seconds remaining in the first period when Trevor Surrette buried a one-timer from the left side of the crease.
“Any time you get one in the last minute, it gives you a big lift,” said Jackson.
“One of the things we were trying to do was take fewer penalties, because lately we’ve been getting way too many. We only had four (Saturday), which I’m happy about.”
Cardillo was the story in the middle period when Lynnfield came out flying. The senior captain stopped all 14 shots he faced in that scoreless period, including a glove save to rob Nick Loconte. He later denied Crampe, who got off two quick point blank shots with just under five minutes remaining in the period.
“At that point the game could have gone either way,” said Jackson. “Matty is so tough and has earned wins for us this year. There’s no question he kept us in it until our guys picked him up in the third period.”
Surrette notched his second of the game after a big mistake by Lynnfield early in the final period. Bassi came out to play the puck and left it behind the net for a defenseman, but none of his teammates collected it. Surrette swooped in to get it, swung around and quickly tucked it into the corner of the net before Bassi could react. Tyler Costello added an insurance goal on the power play.
“This was our worst performance of the year,” said Lynnfield (1-12-1) rookie head coach John Gardner. “We gave them five gift wrapped, charity goals. That’s inexcusable on our part.”
Junior Joe Emma scored the first goal of his varsity career on a breakaway late in the game to put the game safely in the win column. Emma, who hustled all game, saw it pay off when Mike Jesi sent him in alone. He froze Bassi before slipping a low shot into the corner.
“Emma flies around out there all the time,” said Jackson. “He’s always working hard on every shift, and it’s great to see him finally get one.”