New Winchester sports logo

READING — In the battle of the unbeatens last Friday afternoon, it was the Winchester boys hockey team that got the upper hand over Reading.

Winchester defeated the Rockets, 2-0, on New Year’s Eve day in their first Middlesex League Liberty Division battle of the season.

The Red & Black got the only goal they would need early in the third period, when sophomore Dan Collins buried a shot past Reading goalie Franklin Zessis to take a 1-0 lead.

Winchester handed Reading (3-1-0) its first loss of the season and sophomore Max Lowenberg earned the shutout with 26 saves. Winchester stays undefeated with the win and now stands at 4-0.

“I thought the team that wanted it more got the better result,” said Reading coach Mark Doherty. “That would be my take on what I saw. They (Winchester) wanted it more so give them credit, they kept us away from the net. We knew what they were trying to do all game and we still had too many breakdowns.”

“It was a great team win for us,” said Winchester coach Gino Khachadourian. “It is always a battle when we play Reading. But, our goalie Max (Lowenberg) played fantastic for us. This is only his second start and he controlled his rebounds, was calm in net and helped pull off a nice win for us.”

As for the Rockets, Doherty thinks this could be a good thing as his team knows what they need to work on going forward in this tough Middlesex League.

“Maybe it’s the best thing to happen to the kids early on,” said Doherty. “It shows you have to show up with an ‘A’ effort every night and don’t get out-worked. This league is too good to not show up every game.”

The first period was fast paced with each side getting opportunities to score.

With nine minutes to play in the first, Zessis came up huge with a diving save to keep Winchester off the board.

Minutes later Zessis stopped a few more, with Winchester getting the better scoring opportunities. Zessis played tremendous all game for the Rockets keeping his team in the game.

“He (Zessis) played outstanding for us,” said Doherty. “But we had too many breakdowns in front of him.”

Reading started the second period putting pressure on Winhcester but Lowenberg came up with a number of good saves to keep the Rockets off the scoreboard.

Early in the third, Reading got the first power play of the game. It had six shots on Lowenberg, but could not break through.

At 4:54 of the third period, Winchester scored the game’s first goal breaking the scoreless tie. Liam Doherty passed to Collins, who buried a shot top-shelf to put Winchester on top 1-0.

The Rockets had the perfect opportunity to tie the game when they got another power play mid-way through the third, but were unable to capitalize, getting only one shot on net.

With two minutes to go in the game, Reading pulled the goalie but Winchester took advantage as Max Tong scored an empty-netter giving the Red & Black the 2-0 win.

Next up, Reading (3-1) plays at Woburn (4-1) Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Winchester (4-0) takes on Belmont (8-0) at Viglirolo Rink Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” said Khachadourian. “This league is tough and it is a grind every game, but we are very happy with the start.”

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