BOSTON – Midway through the season, Shrewsbury coach Steve Turnblom moved sophomore Matt Dillon from the blue line to first-line forward.
That move has paid off all season long for the Colonials and Sunday was no different as Dillon scored a goal and registered five assists in Shrewsbury’s 7-1 win over Hanover in the Div. 3 state title game.
“A big game like that, having seven goals up on the board it means a lot to put up points like that but at the same time you have to worry about the team accomplishment more than that,” Dillon said.
After the game, Turnblom had nothing put praise for his sophomore forward.
“He’s just an incredibly talented kid who moves the puck, great talent and great vision,” Turnblom said. “He’s been doing it all year long and leads the Central Mass in scoring.”
Dillon is just one example of many who have bought into the pass-first offense that Turnblom runs. Hanover had no answer for the Colonials crisp and fluid passing game, showcased by their huge advantage in shots on net. Shrewsbury opened up by outshooting the Indians 18-5 in the opening period and 35-14 in the game.
“We make them pass, you don’t come back from the first half of the year if you don’t pass the puck,” Turnblom said. “Setting everyone up, that’s key getting, assists and playing the game property. If you want to play past high school that’s how you have to play.”
Despite the heavy barrage of shots in the opening stanza, it was Hanover the opened up the scoring. At 5:26 of the period, Landon Hasenfuss rifled a shot on net on a 2-on-1 rush that was stopped by William Shipman. But Matt McDougall was there for the rebound, which hardly squeaked past the goal line before it was cleared out by a defender.
“Nothing worse than when you are dominating at the other end, getting a lot of shots and chances and they get a breakout and score at the other end,” Turnblom said.
For the remaining 40 minutes of regulation however, it was all Shrewsbury.
Five minutes after the opening tally, the Colonials lightning-quick offense struck twice. The first came from Dan Quinlivan who was fed a beautiful backhanded pass through the crease form Dillon for the easy goal. Fifty-four seconds later, Cole Vincequere picked the top-right corner from the right point to give Shrewsbury an all-of-a-sudden 2-1 lead.
But the back-breaker came with what looked like no time left on the clock.
Shrewsbury broke out with a 2-on-1 rush with Dillon feeding Jack Quinlivan for the goal with no time left on the clock.
After a conference with the goal judge, the goal was allowed and one second was put back on the clock as Shrewsbury skated to the locker room with a 3-1.
“What happened is they are a hell of a hockey team, they could be a Division 1 team,” said Hanover coach Jonny Abban. “We came out slow. To get this far in the tournament you need to bring your ‘A’ game every shift and we took some shifts off and we paid for it.”
The rout is on: The Colonials wasted no time in the second period, as just 31 seconds into the period, Dave Belbin picked the top-left corner from the left dot.
All the bounces went Shrewsbury’s for the rest of the game. Five minuats later it was Dillon’s turn to score a goal when his shot got from below the dot got a fortuitous bounce, deflecting off a Hanover skate and in.
Jack Quinlivan and Matt Ward added two more goals as the Colonials coasted the remainder of the game to capture the Div. 3 title.
“It’s awesome,” said Turnblom. “To see these kids that I’ve had since they were freshman and to get a shot to come here and win it was huge I’m very happy for them.”
Something has to give: Entering Sunday’s title game, the two teams were on a combined 18 game win streak. Shrewsbury was dismantling any team that stood in their way while the Indians coasted through the Div. 3 South.
But when the two teams took the ice, it was apparent that Shrewsbury was the faster team.
In the beginning of the year, coach knew a lot of hype was around this team but we hadn’t done anything yet and had the whole season to go,” senior defensemen Cole Vincequere said. “To really make a difference we had to bring home a medal.”