The Saugus High School hockey team proved more than worthy of its Div. 4 playoff berth last Thursday when it nearly knocked off ninth-seeded Assabet Valley in their Round of 32 contest at Navin Rink in Marlborough. The 24th-seeded Sachems held a 4-3 lead late in the second period before the host Aztecs tied it up in the waning seconds of the middle stanza. Both teams tallied in the third to force the game to overtime deadlocked at five. The game would remain even until the Aztecs scored to end it late in the second 3-on-3 overtime session to escape with a 6-5 victory.
The loss ended Saugus’s season at 7-13-1 overall. Despite dropping four of their last five regular-season games, the Sachems steadily improved while going up against some tough, higher-division competition. That was evident in last Thursday’s playoff at Assabet, as the Aztecs had 15 wins entering the Round of 32 and have since advanced to the Round of 8.
Saugus had two players with two-goal efforts against Assabet. Jason Caron and Jason Monahan each tallied twice. Massey Ventre contributed a goal and assisted on another, and Chris Regnetta took over the role of playmaker by dishing out four assists.
Goalie Matt Smith took the loss in net but made some fine saves to keep his team in it. The Sachems came back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits, and forced the overtime when Monahan scored with 5:27 left in regulation to tie it at 5-5. Assabet’s Nolan Tomczyk scored the game-winner just under three minutes into the second OT.
Saugus Head Coach Jeff Natalucci told the press after the game that he is proud of his team’s playoff performance. “We battled back a few times out there,” he said. “But in the end [the Aztecs] were just able to make one more play than us.”
Saugus’s seven wins came against Lynn (twice), Swampscott (twice), Pentucket, Everett/Revere and Somerville. The Sachems finished with a 2-7-1 record in Northeastern Conference play.
Departing seniors are Ventre, Caron, Monahan, Regnetta, Ryan Ragucci, Matt Robbins and Jason Freehling.