WOBURN — While the Burlington High boys hockey team is no stranger to the postseason, it’s been a while since the Red Devils have won a tournament game.
The last time Burlington won a tournament game was when current junior Ryan O’Halloran was in the stands at the TD Garden, watching his brother help the Devils defeat Marshfield for the MIAA Division 1 state title in 2013.
On Thursday O’Halloran scored twice in the third period to help Burlington end that drought, with a 4-1 victory over Newburyport in a Division 1 North first-round game at O’Brien Rink.
“It’s been a while,” O’Halloran said. “I’ve been in four games that we’ve lost in the last two years. To be the group that did this is pretty special.”
Said Burlington coach Bob Conceison, “We’ve been in the Super 8 two or three times since then. We’ve struggled so this is a big win for us. We struggled at the beginning of this year, but we turned it around and we’re playing well now. For this class to turn it around is really a sweet thing for them.”
Burlington (14-7-2) will play Andover, the Merrimack Valley Conference/Dual County League Division 1 champion, in the sectional quarterfinals at 7 p.m. on Sunday at the Chelmsford Forum.
O’Halloran scored when proved to be the winning goal 29 seconds into the third period when he knocked in a rebound from outside the crease.
“We tried to use our speed wide,” O’Halloran said. “We’ve always scored first-shift goals, whether it’s the first period, second or third.”
Mitchell Maida scored Burlington’s third goal at 3:59 of the third, putting in another rebound. John Condon and Anthony Andriolo assisted.
“That third goal was the back-breaker,” Conceison said. “It was because of the great forechecking the line we had out there did.”
O’Halloran added the final goal, scoring on an empty net from just inside the red line with nine seconds remaining. Maida and Colin Browne had the assists.
After a scoreless first period, Burlington took the lead 34 seconds into the second. Conor Quinlan one-timed a pass from the right corner. O’Halloran and Sean Savage assisted.
One minute and 13 seconds later, the Clippers tied the score when Ryan Archer found the net with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle.
Though each team placed 11 shots on net in the second period, Newburyport (10-11-1) had momentum for much of the period. The Clippers were on the power play twice, but Burlington killed each penalty.
Devils goalie Joe Trabucco (21 saves) made a diving save to prevent a goal on a point-blank shot from Jacob Grossi-Hogg with 41 seconds left in the second.
“The first period, both teams were kind of flat,” Conceison said. “We played better in the second period and better in the third. The way we played in the third period is the way we’re capable of playing.”