Harbormen Record Second Shutout of Playoffs, Move onto Elite Eight

Sophomore Conal Mulkerrin opened the scoring in the second period in Hingham’s 3-0 win over Braintree on Monday night

March 5, 2024 – Story and photos by Joshua Ross

The Harbormen shutout their opponent for the second straight playoff game in front of a sell out crowd at the Canton Ice House last night as they defeated Braintree 3-0 in the boys MIAA D1 Sweet Sixteen round.  

This was the third time this season that these two teams met with Hingham coming out on top all three time.  The first meeting technically goes down in the books as a tie, but since it was in a tournament, Hingham won in a shootout.  

From the first puck drop, you could see that both teams were ready for this game.  Braintree seemed to be the more physical team, but Hingham’s speed and puck movement caused problems for the Womps throughout the whole game.  Even with the first period ending scoreless, it was only a matter of time before the Harbormen broke through the opposing goalie, who single-handedly kept Braintree in the game in the first frame. 

Hingham fans go crazy as sophomore Cam McKenna extends Hingham’s lead to 2-0 in the second period of Monday night’s game.

That first goal did eventually come in the second from sophomore Conal Mulkerrin.  A short time later, fellow sophomore Cam McKenna added his third of the playoffs.  Right before the end of the second, senior captain Paul Dzavik added the third goal and put the game out of reach for the Womps.  

“It obviously big to score first,” head coach Tony Messina said after the game. “We talked about it if they got the first goal we were going to say positive and stay with our game plan. Somehow it takes us a little bit longer than most teams to score a goal, but I’m just happy we got the first one and got a little momentum and obviously got the second and third.”

Hingham outshot Braintree 30-6 for the game.   The defense was suffocating only allowing one shot on net in the third. Sophomore goaltender Mike Karo made some timely saves keeping the Womps off the board maintaining his playoff goals allowed at 0.00.  

Senior captain eludes a Braintree defender just missing on a shot early in the game on Monday night.

With early playoff losses the past few years, this win puts them into the Elite Eight against top ranked St. John’s Prep and further into the tournament than they have gone in a while. 

“Last year was a little bit of a disappointment,” Messina went on to say. “This year we really had no goals, but we’ve been building all year long.  The inexperienced guys and the younger guys have been getting better and better and the older guys have been toting the freight, so its been working well.”

Dzavik agrees with his coach that slow starts have a been an issue this year, but the team turns in on once the first one goes in.

“Conal getting that first one really just gave us that extra boost of confidence and energy and we were just able to go out there and get two more.”

Senior Mason Lemieux ties up a Braintree player along the boards late in the third period in Hingham’s 3-0 win.

For the second game in a row, it has been the young, experienced players scoring first for the Harbormen.  McKenna and Mulkerrin are finishing up their second year on the team and have settled in to their roles and not really being phased by the spotlights of the playoffs.  

“They been playing their roles super, super well this year,” Dzavik added. “The fact that they able to keep doing this in playoff hockey as sophomores is very, very impressive.”

The Harbormen will head up to Stoneham on Thursday night for a battle against Prep, a team they have played and beaten already this season.  But that was early in the season and not in the playoffs. 

Sophomore defenseman Sean Carroll fires a shot from just inside the blue line early in the first period.

“Going against Prep it is going to be tough one,” Messina said. “They’re a fast team. We beat them in our second game of the season this year. That just means they’re going to be coming at us much harder than they normally would, so we’ll be ready.”

His message will mostly like be the same on Thursday as it was last night – “Play urgent. Play desperate. Have no regrets when the game’s over.”


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