LOWELL — There was a time, albeit briefly, when it looked like the Danvers High hockey team might be able to give defending Division 2 state champion Wilmington a run in last night’s North final at the Tsongas Center.
The optimism came when Falcons left winger A.J. Couto scored early in the second period — and it lasted exactly 50 seconds, which was how long it took the Wildcats to answer and completely take over the game.
The end result was a 7-2 triumph that gave Wilmington its second straight Division 2 North title and subsequently ended the season for Danvers (13-7-4), which made its deepest postseason run since 2005.
“That goal killed us,” said Danvers senior captain Joe Strangie, who assisted on Couto’s tally that made it 2-1 at 3:09 of the second period. But on the next shift, Wilmington’s Brendan McDonough scored the second of his three goals to make it 3-1.
“We had some momentum, but Wilmington is such a great team. The way they play, the suck the momentum right out of you.”
The Wildcats (20-3-2) will skate in the Division 2 final Sunday at TD Garden and are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back D-2 titles since Saugus did it in 2003-04.
Wilmington was fast, skilled and hard working. Their top line of McDonough (3 goals, assist), Cam Owens (4 assists) and Jake Rogers (goal) made the Falcons pay by creating odd-man rushes all night.
“They were firing on all cylinders the whole game,” said Danvers head coach Kevin Brown. “You can never account for speed, and speed was a big part of their game. They had a good feeling for where their linemates were supposed to be, and made some passes that were too much for us.”
Luke Foley put Wilmington on the board just 1:23 into the first and for a time, Danvers settled down after that. The Falcons found their shape in the defensive zone and looked to be acclimating to the Wildcats’ pace. But McDonough stole the puck at the blue line, shed a defender and scored to make it 2-0 late in the period.