Anderson’s game-winner keeps playoff hopes alive

Published in the February 17, 2017 edition

MELROSE RED Raider hockey playoff hopes remain alive after a 2-1 victory over Wakefield, a win that benefited from a game-winning goal by junior Darwin Anderson (pictured). (Donna Larsson photo)

MELROSE RED Raider hockey playoff hopes remain alive after a 2-1 victory over Wakefield, a win that benefited from a game-winning goal by junior Darwin Anderson (pictured). (Donna Larsson photo)


MELROSE—Faced with a must-win situation, the Melrose Red Raider hockey team picked up a key league win on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Kasabuski arena in Saugus. After a 1-1 stalemate, Melrose junior Darwin Anderson’s goal lifted the Red Raiders to a 2-1 victory to keep playoff hopes alive for the Raiders (6-8-1), who are looking to lock up five more points needed in three games to secure a spot in post season.

After the game, coach Vin Mirasolo saluted the team’s effort. “The last two games have been our best efforts of the season. We’re playing our best hockey now. We had a tough schedule in the mid season, but our effort has been exceptional now. We’re trying to make a push for playoffs now and this was a good reflection.”

But Saturday’s occasion against Wakefield marked two significant events: Senior Night, which honored the team’s graduating upperclassmen, Jack Aylward, Matt Bowers, Shane Correale, Connor Crovo, Matt Ingals, Matt MacKenzie and Cal MacDonald; as mell as a milestone for Melrose coach Vin Mirasolo’s – his 250th career win as coach.

Mirasolo, a player and grad of Bowdoin College 1991, was at the helm of Lynnfield High for 15 seasons where he sported a win/loss record of 204-100-45 for the Pioneers, and in five years at Melrose has gone 46-42-19, including three straight playoff spots and thirteen-win seasons from 2012-2015.

After the game, Mirasolo was more focused on the Red Raider’s playoff push than his 250 win milestone. “Right now it’s about getting wins. I’ve seen great work from the whole team. They’re playing with a team mentality, and we’ve had great contributions from players whose names you don’t see in the boxscores. And I want them to know it.”

Matt Bowers, in particular, has been rock solid for Melrose as goalie. “Matt has been exceptional at the net for us,” says his coach. “He played tremendous on Saturday.”

That was evident in his 19 out of 20 saved shots taken by Wakefield, who scored first when the night began. Wakefield sophomore Thomas Harrington found the net beyond the reach of Bowers, who had 20 saves for the night. The Raiders almost tied it up with shots from Darwin Anderson and Shea Champagne but both were denied by Warrior goalie Tyler Pugsley.

After finishing the period down 1-0, Melrose came out charged in the second and dominated puck time including nice attempts at the net by Melrose’s Shane Correale and Liam Crovo. But it was Red Raider Shea Champagne who found the net for Melrose at 5:34 to tie it up 1-1, thanks to a nice feed from Cam Marks.

Only twenty seconds later Darwin Anderson scored the game winner, a right corner shot, with assists by Connor Crovo and Shea Champagne. Melrose continued an onslaught of shots on goal from Anderson, Connor Crovo, Shea Champagne, Jack Aylward and Cal McDonald but were held off by Wakefield’s Pugsley. As the third period drained, Bowers held the Warriors scoreless and enjoyed the 2-1 win.

The win comes on the heels of a 2-1 loss to Burlington on Feb. 8, in what Mirasolo describes as one of Melrose’s best efforts of the season, thanks in part to the work of Colin Kiernan in the net.

It’s a true fight to the finish for Melrose, who will look to beat Stoneham on Feb. 18 to make an entrance to the Div. 1 North playoffs. A victory will clinch second place in the Freedom League and an automatic bid. Conversely, Melrose can win at least two games and secure one tie to earn the five more points needed for a post season run.

Melrose will travel to the Stoneham Arena on Feb. 18 at 4:00 p.m. Stay tuned.

Remaining schedule  

Wed. Feb 15 vs. Chelmsford, 6 (Kasabuski)

Sat., Feb 18 @ Stoneham, 4

Wed., Feb 22 @ Matignon, 2:30  (Kasabuski)