NORTH BILLERICA, Mass. -- The crowd was even and the student sections were equally loud, but only Winchester had Nolan Redler and Brendan Greene.
The junior duo combined five points to power Winchester past Waltham, 4-2, and into Monday’s Division 1 North final.
Redler had a pair of goals and an assist while Greene scored a goal and had a helper.
“They see the ice so well,” Winchester head coach Matt Spang said. “I’d be lying if I told you I was teaching that to them. They just see the ice so well and do a good job.”
Waltham (13-9-2) struck first when junior Justin Provencher shot across his body and tucked the puck into the top corner.
Winchester (16-5-3) responded less than three minutes later when Redler found Danny Marx on the power play to tie it heading into the break.
“It took us a little bit to get our legs, but once we did and we settled in I thought we played we played well,” Spang said. “I’ve got a young team, so it just takes them a little while to get settled in. We knew that coming in. We thought the first five minutes would be tough on us. We handled it, we got out of the first period 1-1, and then we just played from there.”
The Sachems controlled the second period and Redler and Greene each had their moments. Greene stuffed a rebound home less than three minutes into the period to put the Sachems ahead for good. Greene later found Redler with a perfect tape-to-tape pass that Redler easily guided into the goal.
Waltham pressed physically and — with a bigger team — was able to dole out some impressive hits.
However, the Hawks’ attack had trouble cracking netminder James Offner. The sophomore had 19 saves for the Sachems.
“Part of it is a credit to them, but part of it we have to play better puck possession,” Waltham head coach John Maguire said. “They took advantage of our mistakes.
“They have some skilled kids. It’s unfortunate that we made it even easier for those skilled kids in turning the puck over. It’s tournament hockey. [It] could have went either way for a little while.”
Redler added his second after an incredible one-man effort early in the third period to put Winchester up three. Waltham’s Sean Kelley scored three minutes later to cut the deficit, but that’s how the game would end.
In sports consistency is king. Playing with the same people, over time, will develop a sense of timing and awareness that’s almost instinctual.
That’s how it is for Redler and Greene.
“We’ve been playing together since we were eight years old,” Greene said. “We have such good chemistry.
“We’re always with each other in school, out of school, always hanging out. So it just shows on the ice. We always know where each other are. We love each other on and off the ice.”
Coming into the tournament, the duo had combined nearly 40 percent of Winchester’s points, and there’s still more hockey left in 2013 for Redler and Greene.
ALL MIDDLESEX AT TSONGAS
Monday’s North sectional final will pit the Sachems against league-rival Burlington. The teams met in Burlington on Jan. 19, when the Red Devils coming away with a 3-0 win.