GLOUCESTER — A kick, a quick stick, and a flick.

It took just nine seconds into overtime for Masconomet center Chris O’Grady to win a faceoff, kick the puck over to A.J. Sacco on his left, then watch as his sophomore teammate burned down the left wing, deked around a Gloucester defender and flung a shot on net that hit nothing but twine. That power play marker gave the Chieftains a 4-3 victory over previously unbeaten Gloucester Saturday night at the Talbot Rink.

“OG had a nice clean win and got it over to me, and I was able to come into the zone on my forehand with speed,” said Sacco, describing his team-leading 10th goal and 19th point. “Their defenseman was a little flat-footed, so I got by him and attacked the net. I didn’t see it go in ... I was lucky to burry it. That’s a good win for us.”

It was a shockingly fast ending to what had been an outstanding hockey game between the two best teams in the Northeastern Conference, one that was knotted up three times and had five goals scored over the final 14 minutes and 30 seconds of action.

“I thought it was a terrific game,” Gloucester head coach Derek Geary commented. “When you have high quality teams playing a high quality game, it comes down to who makes the last best play ... and they made the last best play.

It happened so quick I hardly even saw it ... which might be a testament to how well Sacco skates.”

In a contest featuring a pair of offensively gifted squads, the two goaltenders prevented this from turning into a firewagon hockey contest. Masconomet senior Nick Santangelo finished with 27 saves, almost half (13) of those coming in the second period. He robbed Gloucester senior captain and dynamic scorer Jack Costanzo on multiple occasions, “a few times which could’ve broken things open for us,” according to Geary.

“It’s dauting seeing (Gloucester snipers Jack) Costanzo and (Emerson) Marshall scoring all those goals coming in; they’re all over the internet,” said Santangelo. “But I play every shot the same way. I have to be aware of how they set up and all, but as far as how I approach the shot, it’s the same.”

“We have a ton of confidence in Nicky right now. He’s just playing awesome,” added Masconomet coach Andrew Jackson, his team now 6-1 overall and a perfect 4-0 in NEC play.

“I’m just really proud of our guys and how they reacted. We were down and came back, down again and came back again. We overcame penalties, two 5-on-3’s we had to kill ... the guys just did whatever they had to do to persevere and win it at the end.”

Santangelo’s counterpart, Fisherman sophomore Nick Tarantino, was even busier, making 30 saves, including 13 in the final stanza.

Gloucester (now 6-1) appeared to have delivered the decisive blow with 4:39 remaining when Marshall scored his second goal of the night, converting on the short side after gathering a Brett Cunningham rebound. But Masconomet responded with 2:30 to go as third liner Michael Bevilacqua bore down the slot and grabbed a Nick McMillan rebound off of Tarantino’s pads and shoveled it between the goalie’s legs to knot the score at 3-3.

Marshall was then penalized for roughing with 1:43 to play in regulation, giving the Chieftains just their third power play of the night (Gloucester had seven, scoring twice). They had several excellent chances to bury the winner before the horn sounded, but five saves from Tarantino kept things all square until Sacco turned on his jets in OT.

“I actually get excited when other teams are on the power play,” said Santangelo, who had 14 stops on the Fishermen’s seven man up opportunities. “It gives me a chance to make some big saves, get everyone hype and helps the momentum of our team if we kill it off.”

Marshall gave Gloucester a 1-0 lead 10-plus minutes into the second on a short side putback, but Masconomet got it back just 79 seconds later after Guarino put home a second-chance rebound.

“When another team scores and looks at our bench while celebrating, that fires me up,” said Guarino, whose dark brown mustache he began growing at the start of the season is starting to thicken up. “I wanted us to get one back right then and there. Fortunately, on our line’s next shift we were able to get a lot of guys to the front of the net, the puck squirted out to me and I put it in.”

“Richie was a bull tonight, just doing whatever we needed all over the ice,” said Jackson.

Junior right wing Joe Young gave the visitors a 2-1 edge just 39 seconds into the third period, with Guarino assisting, but Gloucester struck quickly as Costanzo (“he’s an elite player wo has always played his best in the most important games,” said Geary) snapped home a power play rip from the slot.

“The puck seems to stick with guys like Jack and A.J., just sort of stays right with them,” said Jackson. “Both of them showed why they’re elite players.”

Contact Phil Stacey


Masconomet 4, Gloucester 3 (OT)

at Talbot Rink, Gloucester

Masconomet 0 1 2 1 4

Gloucester 0 1 2 0 3

First period: No scoring.

Second period: G, Emerson Marshall (Colby Jewell), 9:38; M, Richie Guarino (Chris O’Grady, Josh Brann), 11:42.

Third period: M, Joe Young (Guarino), :39; G, Jack Costanzo (Marshall), ppg, 1:48; G, Marshall (Brett Cunningham), ppg, 10:21; M, Michael Bevilacqua (A.J. Sacco, Nick McMillan), 12:30.

Overtime: M, Sacco (O’Grady), ppg, :09.

Saves: M, Nick Santangelo 27; G, Nick Tarantino 30.

Records: M, 6-1; G, 6-1.

Contact Phil Stacey


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