MALDEN, Mass. -- Speed beat out physicality at the Valley Forum Saturday night, as the home ice No. 1 Malden Catholic Lancers defeated the No. 4 Hingham Harbormen, 5-1, in a potential Super 8 preview matchup.
In the process, the Lancers snapped Hingham's 13-game unbeaten streak. The Harbormen went 12-0-1, following their Dec. 21 loss to No. 2 St. Mary's of Lynn.
The teams exchanged first period goals, with MC (12-1-3) striking first on a shot by forward Ara Nazarian. The freshman’s goal came on assists from Tyler Sifferlen and Brian Cameron.
Hingham (13-3-1) answered back three minutes later when Harbormen forward Matt Brazel was spun around by contact to face a loose puck in the Lancer zone. Brazel charged from the blue line to net the only point of the night for Hingham.
The Lancers controlled the tempo and puck early and often, keeping goalie John Grenier busy in net.
“They’re a physical team,” Lancers assistant captain Ryan Fitzgerald said. “They tried to get us off of our game, which is speed, but we just kept at it, kept grinding.”
The grind never stopped. The Lancers’ wily play frustrated the aggressive Harbormen, with MC players regularly ducking under checks and winning loose pucks.
After a pad save, Fitzgerald caught Grenier leaning out of the crease and put the rebound in for the second Lancer goal. The score came on assists from Brendan White and Lancer captain Brendan Collier.
Malden grabbed a man advantage minutes later, leading to a goal from junior forward Mike Iovanna to wrap up the second period.
The Lancers kept up their slick skating in the third, but threw in some rough-housing of their own.
“Our grittier side came out at the end,” Fitzgerald said. “You saw on the last shift there were hits being thrown everywhere.”
In the last five minutes of play, the Lancers got the puck by the Hingham defense and Grenier twice more, again off of the sticks of Fitzgerald and Nazarian.
The surgical approach of the aptly named Lancers was summed up by head coach John McLean: “The key word is ‘discipline.’ If you go in our
locker room, it’s the first word on the board.”
“There’s no reason to take any retaliatory penalties,” he added. “You take the hit and make the play. We’re a pretty good hockey team, but we’re not good with four guys, we’re good with five."
“I think we had a good effort, good intensity,” Hingham head coach Tony Messina said. “But against a team like that, you give them one opening, they’re gonna take it.”
“They can score three goals in a shift, so 5-1, we don’t like the score, but it seems like it was closer.”
Coming off a 12-0-1 streak before Saturday’s action. Hingham could very well get a second crack at the Lancers.
“They’re a very good team. I think we’ll see them again in the Super 8,” McLean said.
The Lancers’ will again take home ice in their next matchup against Wakefield on Monday at 7:10 p.m. Hingham will take on Winchester on the road at 6 p.m., Monday.