Before the world discovered Saugus, the SHS Hockey Sachems brought home their second state title in four years
Milestone anniversaries are always fun to look back and reminisce about – a time that brought much joy to so many. For the Saugus sports fans, 2003 will never be forgotten. It was a year that put the town on the proverbial championship map far beyond its borders.
The Saugus American Little League Williamsport all-stars literally captured the imagination of the sports world that August with their journey to the United States championship game in Williamsport, Pa. But just five months earlier, the Saugus High School hockey team warmed up the local fans with its second Division 2 state title in four years. Former Sachem Lou Finocchiaro guided the program to the first state conquest in 1999, and one of his assistants was Jim Quinlan, another SHS hockey alumnus, who went on to lead the 2003 bunch to the top perch in the Commonwealth.
As Saugus hockey fans adjust to sharing the sport’s local legacy with Peabody, of all teams, this season, there was a time when names like Serino, Hartigan, Gannon and Scuzzarella became household names. There were three Serino brothers on that 2003 club – junior twins Matt and Craig and younger freshman brother Nick. They all won rings together, something that’s certainly a conversation starter probably to this day at family events.
Little League ace pitcher Mike Scuzzarella had the world by his feet – which certainly included many Williamsport groupies – in August, but in March his big brother Rob was in the spotlight as a sophomore forward on Quinlan’s banner-raising club. One of Mike’s teammates, Dave Ferreira, also has an older brother who was on that historic hockey squad. Mike Ferreira was a junior defenseman. Speaking of Quinlan, his son Eric was one of his captains as a senior stalwart defenseman.
There was definitely a family theme surrounding both championship teams, but in Saugus that’s nothing new. Throughout the decades, from grandfathers to grandchildren, families proudly wore the Red and White. Maybe that day will come back soon in hockey to, hopefully, add a new generation of Sachem memories to the archives.
In the meantime, it takes a team to hang banners, and these familial names had teammates that completed the 2003 hockey championship formula for success. First, there was senior goalie Neal Hart and his backups Dave DiLuigi, also a classmate, and sophomore Alex Klimarchuk. All winning hockey teams start in net, and this one was no exception. They also had the good fortune of being taught the nuances of the position from veteran goalie coach Jeff Mitchell. Jim Flanagan was Quinlan’s other varsity assistant behind the bench.
Quinlan’s roster also included senior defensemen Brian Hartigan and Anthony Arone, junior blue liners Rob Gannon, Craig Serino and Mike Harris and sophomore Kevin McBride, not to mention the aforementioned Eric Quinlan and Ferreira. The forwards were seniors Nathan Napolitano, Scott Naso and Mark MacTaggart, juniors Tom Flynn, Jeff Driscoll and Nick Fusco, sophomores Cole Barressi and Frank LoConte and freshman Jonathan McCabe, not to mention Matt and Nick Serino and Scuzzarella.
Who knew what was lying ahead for the summer months? But as that year unraveled, nobody in Saugus will ever forget those 12 months in 2003.
Since 1998, Joe McConnell was the sports editor for the erstwhile Saugus Advertiser, and now he’s covering sports for the Advocate newspapers.