The WHS Boys Hockey team captured the Haverhill Tournament Gulprit Division Championship

Last Wednesday night, the Wilmington High School Boys Hockey team captured the Haverhill Tournament Gulprit Division Championship title with a 5-0 win over Winnacunnet, New Hampshire. (courtesy photo/Mark DiGiovanni).

HAVERHILL – For many years, the Wilmington High School Boys' Hockey team has participated in the annual Haverhill Christmas Tournament but since 2014, the 'Cats have won their four-team division title just one time, back in the 2019.

Entering this year's tournament with an 0-3 record, which included being outscored 16-5 thanks to D1 powerhouses Reading, Winchester and Arlington, the 'Cats desperately needed at least one win, but two to start climbing out of a hole.

The first order of business was completed with last Monday's 3-2 victory over North Andover in the first round. The two teams have played each other almost every year in this tournament and counting this contest, six of them have been either 3-2 or 2-1 games, including three straight championship titles for Wilmington in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

This latest win put the 'Cats into the championship game against Winnacunnet, New Hampshire. And after a slow start, the 'Cats came out with a 5-0 victory, to take the Gulprit Division title, and put the team's record to 2-3.

“We're glad to get the win and win the tournament,” said head coach Steve Scanlon. “We need to get some wins after going through Murderer's Row.”

Wilmington had to kill off a handful of penalties early on and with less than five minutes left in the first period, the teams were on a 4-on-4 situation. The 'Cats were working the puck around the offensive end with Nate Alberti and Mike Daniels before Matt Vinal came out of the right hand corner, circled in front of the net, and while all alone, he waited patiently before rifling a wrist shot to the top corner on what turned out to be the game winning tally.

Then just 48 seconds later, the 'Cats struck again as Tristan DiMeco collected a pass in the low slot and put a quick shot through the five-hole, making it 2-0. William Alworth and Nate Packer added the assists.

“We were doing good and then we derailed ourselves with a couple of penalties (in that first period) which always takes some momentum away,” said Scanlon. “Then we cleaned it up (which led to the two goals).”

Wilmington was called for another penalty just 1:35 into the second, and Alberti sent in Daniels for a great short-handed bid, but his shot went into gut of goalie Owen Helton. Before that penalty was over, the 'Cats were called for another, but were able to eventually kill off both.

Then with under nine minutes to go, Daniels picked up a loose puck at the right side of the net and poked it home with helpers going to Alberti and Brian Barry.

Wilmington was called for a penalty after the third goal and then 26 seconds later, while shorthanded, Packer made it 4-0 scoring on a nice backhand shot from the right side of the net with an assist going to defenseman Owen White.

Alberti scored the fifth and final goal on a hard shot to the opposite corner coming on a 2-on-2 break with assists going to Bobby Cyr and White, which came with 3:40 left.

“We got some spread out scoring tonight which is great to see, and the other night we got it too with three goals from three different lines,” said Scanlon.

Alberti finished with a goal and two assists, Packer and Daniels had a goal and an assist each and White had two assists. Vinal and DiMeco had single goals and Alworth, Barry and Cyr had single assists.

Wilmington held a 33-10 shot advantage and goalie Liam Crowley stopped the first eight shots before coming out with 3:15 to go for Justin Finnegan, who made two strong saves to combine for the shut out. Crowley was named the Gulprit Division Most Valuable Player.

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