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Pioneers hockey team clinches postseason berth for third straight year

Senior Day set for Saturday at noon at Peabody vs. Westwood

By Joe Mitchell

 

The Lynnfield High School boys’ hockey team (10-4-2 overall, 5-3-2 in the Cape Ann League) has clinched a berth in the Division 2 North state tournament for the third year in a row after defeating Triton last Thursday, Feb. 8, 3-2.

The Pioneers then lost an emotional game to Masco last Saturday by the exact same score, 3-2, in the wake of the sudden passing of former Chieftains player Brandon Lafata. He was one of their senior stars last year, and Lynnfield coach Jon Gardner remembers him scoring two goals against his club just one year ago. “[Lafata] was such a dynamic player,” recalled Gardner.

The Lynnfield sextet then tied rival North Reading in an offensive shootout on Monday, 5-5. In the previous two games between these two clubs, a total of three goals were scored altogether. The Pioneers connected on two power play chances, but North Reading had four opportunities with the man advantage, and they could only net two, as well.

“After we clinched a state tournament berth last Thursday, we’re just trying to accumulate as many more wins as possible for a higher seed,” said Gardner. “We have four regular season games left, and we’re trying to use these as learning lessons.”

Lynnfield will first play host to Westwood in a non-league game at Peabody on Saturday beginning at noon. It’s also the annual Senior Day, when the seniors on the roster are formally recognized for their contributions to the program the last four years. The locals will then have a makeup game against Pentucket on Tuesday, once again at home at noon. They will be in Gloucester to take on the Fishermen on Wednesday night, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m., before wrapping up the regular season at Medfield on Friday at 3 p.m.

Cooper Marengi paced the attack against Triton with two goals. Jaret Simpson notched the other tally. George Deroche and Joey Mack were responsible for the helpers on all three goals, and the last two were on the power play. The Vikings actually outshot the locals, 24-18, but Aidan Kelly once again stood his ground to keep his teammates close or ahead on the scoreboard.

Kyle Nekoski and Robbie Brandano were credited with the Lynnfield markers against Masco. Will Garofoli and Myles McKay came through with the assists on Kyle’s lamplighter. Deroche set up the late score that trimmed the deficit back to one. The shots were practically even in this game, with Lynnfield holding a slight advantage, 23-21.

Kelly did his part again to keep things close on the scoreboard. “He couldn’t be faulted on any of those Masco goals. He simply had no chance to stop them,” Gardner said.

Joey Mack was the star of the show against North Reading with a hat trick. Tyler Murphy and Deroche accounted for the other tallies. Deroche led the team in assists with four.

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