MIDDLETON — In most games this winter, goaltender Jared McLaughlin has been the Essex Tech boys hockey team's saving grace.
Thanks to his teammates, he didn't need to be Monday afternoon.
The Hawks put 52 shots on the Nashoba Tech cage, cashing in on seven of those opportunities to win going away, 7-1, and officially qualify for the Division 3 North playoffs.
The line of senior captain Nick Ippolito (2 goals, 2 assists) with sophomores David Egan (2 goals, 2 assists) and Jonathan Daley (3 assists) all had big outings for the winners. Senior defensemen Nick Lennon and Evan Danjou also scored, as did senior winger Sam Jenkins (who added an assist).
"Jared's done so much for us this season that it was nice for us to pick him up," said head coach Mark Leonard, whose team (now 8-3-5) ran its unbeaten streak to a school record 10 games. "Jared played out of his mind the last two games (making a combined 58 saves in ties with Shawsheen and Hamilton-Wenham), but he wasn't too busy in this one.
"We've gotten into a nice groove and are figuring some things out (offensively)," he added. "We put a lot of pucks on net, we're moving the puck well and trying to eliminate mistakes every time out."
McLaughlin only had to make 10 saves to earn the victory.
Captain Jake Krajeski had an assist for the Hawks, as did sophomore Nick LoConte, senior Chris Grout, and juniors Matt Miller and Cam Cannizzaro. Essex Tech tallied once in the first period before turning on the red light three times in both the second and third frames.
This also marks Leonard's return to the postseason, having last done so with Peabody High in the 2015-16 season.
The Hawks wrap up the regular season by facing a pair of fellow playoff teams in Rockport and Watertown, as well as a squad fighting for its postseason lives in Northeast Regional in the Mulloy Tournament in Everett early next week.
"Just because we're in doesn't mean we want to let up. The goal is to keep getting more points," said Leonard. "We want to continue to play strong team defense, protect the puck and keep finding ways to score."