Grafton hockey team blasts Dedham, moves into D4 quarters


Grafton hockey team blasts Dedham, moves into D4 quarters
Grafton’s Brady Keeler (2) scored his 33rd goal of the season in the Gators’ 5-1 playoff win over Dedham. Photo/Bill Gilman

WORCESTER – Two goals in a span of 66 seconds late in the second period, broke open a tied game and lifted Grafton High School to a 5-1 win over Dedham High, in a Division 4 Sweet 16 matchup, Monday night at Buffone Rink.

The Gators are making their second straight trip to the D4 State Quarterfinals. Last year, they were eliminated on the road at Watertown. This year, as the No. 4 seed, Grafton (20-2-0) will play host to No. 5 Shawsheen Tech (18-3-1), Wednesday, 6 p.m., back at Buffone.

“I’m very proud of these guys. The effort was great,” said Grafton Coach Mike Binkoski. “The power rankings come out Tuesday and Friday throughout the year and we were sitting at 4. We knew that if we would win out, we’d have home games for the first round, second round and the quarterfinals. It’s big, being able to play in front of the home crowd, all the fans.”

Grafton showed off its prolific offensive depth, getting goals from five different players and points from eight. On the season, the Gators have five players with at least 14 goals and have four of the top 11 point scorers in Central Mass.

“We’ve got goal scorers that do their jobs. Brady Keeler, Keegan Gilmore, Brady Wilson, Zack Baker, they’re always puttin’ ‘em home,” said Ryanne Chibani, who had a goal and two assists.

Grafton got off to a sluggish start, skating hard but unable to finish plays in the offensive zone. Dedham took advantage and grabbed a 1-0 lead on a power play goal by Colin Ward, 6:25 into the game.

“We just had to settle in, figure out our game and settle in. We started putting the puck in the net and that was it,” said Keeler.

Grafton hockey team blasts Dedham, moves into D4 quarters
Armed with inflatable Gators, Grafton fans cheer a third-period goal in the Gators’ 5-1 playoff win over Dedham. Photo/Bill Gilman

The Gators got the equalizer late in the period, from Baker (15th), off a nice feed from Keeler.

It was Keeler who snapped a 1-1 tie with his Central Mass.-leading 33rd goal of the season, with 2:46 to play in the second period. Just over a minute later, Gilmore stole the puck in the Dedham zone and slipped it ahead to Wilson, who walked in alone, used a nifty double-deke and slipped it passed Marauder’s goalie Noel Adams, to make it 3-1.

No. 20 seed Dedham (9-13-0) had opportunities to cut into the Grafton lead, with a pair of power plays early in the third period. But the Marauders came up empty, thanks to solid play from goalie Mason DeCaire (23 saves) and a defense that kept the front of the net clogged all game and blocked 11 shots.

Gilmore provided some insurance with a highlight reel goal, his 17th of the season, with 5:24 left in the game. Gilmore took a lead pass from Chibani and made a brilliant rush down the right side. Gilmore cut through the slot, using his body to shield the puck from a Dedham defenseman, glided across the top of the crease and beat Adams (29 saves) to the blocker side.

Chibani closed the scoring with his third goal of the season with 2:24 remaining.