Published February 8, 2019
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—In a week of tests, the Melrose High boy’s hockey team has earned an A plus.
On Wednesday, Jan 30 Melrose upset #11 ranked Winchester, a team touted heavily as a Middlesex League Super 8 favorite, in a 4-0 shutout at Kasabuski Arena in Saugus. Melrose improves to 10-1-5 on the season and remains on initial Super 8 Watch Lists.
They are also just a few wins away from taking the league for the first time since 1976. At press time Melrose is 7-1-3 in the ML Freedom, just one game ahead of Burlington, whom they will face on Feb. 16.
Against the Sachems, Melrose took an early lead that they never surrendered thanks to a first quarter goal by Joe Lucien, followed by another by Cam Marks. Jake McNeely took the game away from Winchester by making it 3-0 in the third before Charlie Haggerty sealed the deal on a 4-0 final score.
Melrose goalie Mark Dewling earned the shutout at the net.
“This was a great test for us,” said Melrose coach Vin Mirasolo. “Winchester is one of the best teams in the Middlesex League, maybe even the state, so for us to be able to leave with a win is fantastic. I’m happy that we are playing the right kind of hockey at the right time. We’re responding to challenges.”
Despite the shutout, the game often felt closer. “By no means was it uncontested,” says the coach. “The whole 45 minutes was a grind for us. It was an explosive game. We had our work cut out.”
As icing on the cake, Melrose prevailed over league rival Wilmington (4-9) on Saturday, Feb. 2 in a 4-1 victory. Brenden Fennell had two goals in the game, including one in the first along with Andy Calvert’s score that made it a 2-1 game after one (Wilmington goal scored by Christian Robage). In the second, Melrose’s Charlie Haggerty made it a 3-1 game and Brenden Fennell scored an empty netter to make it 4-1 final.
“Wilmington is a good team who played hard,” said Mirasolo. “They had a lot at stake, trying to qualify for a post season, so they threw a lot at us. And Ristuccia is always a tough arena to play in. But we responded to the test and played excellent hockey.”
Melrose suffered their first loss of the year on with a 2-0 defeat to Reading on January 26. It ended their undefeated season but it wasn’t a big setback given the level of Melrose’s play. Said Mirasolo, “I was proud of how we played. We were down 1-0 and the last goal was an empty netter. Reading is a team is who playing great hockey now. There is never a night off in the Middlesex League.”
By this time next week Melrose may have clinched the Middlesex Freedom League. If they do it, it will be the first time in over forty year years. Mirasolo contends that it won’t be easy. “Burlington is hot right now, and we have to get past them. No Middlesex team is easy. But our goal is to the win the league.”
Middlesex Freedom League Standings
Melrose 7-1-3 10-1-5
Burlington 7-2-2 8-6-2
Stoneham 6-4-0 9-5-0
Wilmington 2-9-0 4-9-0
Wakefield 1-9-1 3-9-2