SHREWSBURY – The Shrewsbury boys hockey team secured a major win over Wachusett last Saturday, defeating their area rivals on home ice at NorthStar Ice Sports in Westborough.
Watching his team’s regular season schedule now wind down, a 4-1 win at this stage in the year represented good news for head coach Terry Virtue.
“It was good,” he said in postgame comments. “I think it was a hard fought game. Both teams played well and played hard.”
Shrewsbury opened the scoring less than two minutes into the game when Tyler Rondinelli punched in a goal for the Colonials.
Carter Richardson and Alex Martin then tag-teamed for a pair of goals in the second period to give Shrewsbury a 3-0 lead heading into the game’s final frame.
Though the Mountaineers picked off a goal around the 9:30 mark, Shrewsbury answered, this time with a shorthanded, empty-net goal by Anthony Nuzzolilo to rebuild a three-goal Colonials lead.
“I wish we had a little better third period,” Virtue said, acknowledging that Wachusett goal. “But they came out hungry.”
Virtue specifically praised his goaltender James Millette, who stopped 21 of the 22 shots that Wachusett skaters sent his way.
“It was a good game,” Virtue said. “Their goalie played well, our goalie played great for us.”
“It was more like a 3-3 game if our goalie didn’t play as well as he did,” Virtue continued.
Things heated up late in this contest, with officials at one point sending a pair of Shrewsbury and Wachusett skaters to the penalty box for matching roughing penalties after a scuffle near center-ice.
After the game, Virtue noted a need for composure in situations like those.
“It’s something we talk about on a daily basis about making sure we’re playing hard but smart, keeping our sticks on the ice and stuff like that,” he said. “That’s how it is.”
With this win over Wachusett in the rear-view mirror, Shrewsbury is now in the midst of a final push through its regular season schedule.
The MIAA decides playoff seeding using a power ranking system. Teams can qualify for the postseason by either winning 50% or more of their games or earning a ranking among the top 32 teams in their division.
Shrewsbury sat just outside of the playoff picture when the state’s last round of rankings circulated last week.
This victory over Wachusett was a step forward, though, giving Virtue reason for optimism.
“We’re right there,” he said. “Hopefully we can get a few more wins and get there.”
Shrewsbury is due to play Westford Academy on Wednesday. It will then take on Mansfield on Saturday, Feb. 12.