February 9, 2023 – Story and photos by Joshua Ross
We don’t know where last night’s 3-1 win over Catholic Memorial ranks in head coach Tony Messina’s 600 victories, but it’s definitely in the “top five” for senior captain Chase McKenna.
The match-up between two of the top three teams in the state lived up to the hype. The Knights came into Pilgrim with a 13-1-0 record and ranked second in Division 1. The Harbormen were coming off back-to-back weekend games including a hard-fought double OT winner on Sunday vs Reading in the Ed Burns Coffee Pot semi-finals game. Hingham is now 8-0-2 since suffering their only loss of the season on January 2 vs Duxbury and are on a six game winning streak.
“They’re up to the task,” Messina said of his team after the game. “They were ready to go and anytime we play anyone in this building we think we can win it for sure. They have a lot of confidence right now. It’s great.”
That confidence gives Messina the ability to do what most top teams don’t usually do in big games, roll four lines on the ice throughout most of the game. A huge advantage late in contests, especially high speed, maximum effort games like last night. It also doesn’t hurt to have a shut down defense and a goaltender who is stopping almost everything shot at him.
“We’re fortunate,” added Messina. “We blocked a lot of shots. Our goalie played well. There’s a lot things you have to do well to beat a good team like that.”
The Harbormen opened the scoring with under two minutes to go in the first period when senior Joe Hennessey fired a shot from the top of the left circle that found the back of the net. It took less than a minute for Catholic Memorial to respond and tie it at one. With the third goal in three minutes of play, junior Travis Rugg put Hingham back on top for good within the first minute of the second period. Senior captain Ace Concannon added an empty netter with under a minute to play to secure the win.
As locked in and focused as senior goaltender Luke McLellan was during the game, it was hard not to notice the atmosphere in the building.
“Got a little taste of that at the beginning of the year with St. John’s Prep, but haven’t had a big home game since then,” explains McLellan. “It was a big win for us. I kind of let it out at the end there when I heard the kids banging on the glass. The first goal was kind of deflating. It kind of took the energy out of me, out of the building, but the second period, the goal at the start really helped it and I got back into a rhythm after the first goal.”
In addition to playing a very tough, independent league schedule, the Harbormen are also in the finals of the three weeks long Ed Burns Coffee Pot Tournament on Sunday against Arlington. This is a tournament of the top public school programs in the state. This means they somehow fit extra games into their already tight schedule, which results them playing four games in eight days this week. A daunting schedule they seem to relish.
“Those weekend wins were huge for us,” says McKenna. “That was a momentum shift of our season right there. Back to back games. Road wins. That definitely helped the momentum and the team bonding leading into this one.”
The Harbormen look to continue the momentum on Saturday at home vs St. John’s High School before a rematch with Arlington on Sunday in Watertown.