BILLERICA, Mass. -- Wakefield boys’ hockey head coach Derek Edgerly couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but he knew he had something special with this year’s team. Granted, having just five seniors and 12 sophomores on a varsity team doesn’t often inspire visions of postseason glory, but he knew they had it.
“I knew these kids had it from day one,” Edgerly said. “I don’t know what it was about them.”
The Warriors proved their coach to be right, toppling top-seeded St. Mary’s of Lynn, 4-3, completing a surprising run to the Division 1 North championship Saturday night at Chelmsford Forum.
And it was one of its younger members that put Wakefield (14-6-4) over the top. Second-year forward Kyle Leone, who had two goals in the entirety of the regular season, had a career game with a hat trick, including the game-winning tally in the third period.
However, it was not done without another stellar performance between the pipes from junior Joe Cerulo. St. Mary’s outshot Wakefield, 38-20, for the game, but the Warriors netminder repeatedly frustrated the Spartans’ snipers with highlight reel stop after the next.
“I thought all our guys played well tonight,” St. Mary’s head coach Mark Lee said. “They were tenacious and, most of the game, they dominated.
“The story of the game was their goaltender, but I think we did everything we need to do to be successful to win today. They got it done when they had to and when we had to put the puck in the net, they didn’t let us.”
Wakefield was out of the gate first, scoring 3:12 in with Brett Buckley tipping in Kevin Doherty’s point shot in front. The Warriors were on the board again just 35 seconds later with Leone tallying his first of the night, putting back a rebound off of a John Sartell shot.
The Spartans (14-5-3) regained a degree of momentum, carrying play for the final half of the period and outshooting the Warriors, 12-9. St. Mary’s cut the lead to one on Christopher Surrette’s first of the game with 6:08 remaining in the first.
Surrette tied the game two minutes into the second, squeezing one through Cerulo’s arm, for his second goal of the game.
Wakefield came back to answer with 3:33 remaining in the period, with Leone netting his second of the game, again coming off a rebound. Alec Brown and Andrew Finocchio had the assists.
Once again, St. Mary’s responded when Julian Yourawski snuck one in from the behind the net on a wraparound with 1:24 to play in the second.
However, the night belonged to Leone and he put Wakefield on top for good 38 seconds into the third, with Spartans netminder Donald Hesse experiencing déjà vu all over again, on a rebound put back.
“I just saw it, hit it and it was in the net,” Leone said of the game-winner.
While the Warriors shocked the hockey world, they also may have surprised themselves.
“Coming into this season I knew we were a very young team, but I never thought we’d make it this far,” Cerulo said. “But I’m very proud of my team because it was a good overall team effort.”