The Watertown boys hockey team got its offense in gear in the second period of the MIAA Div. 3 North Section quarterfinal and swept past Weston 8-1 Monday night.
The Raiders (11-11) wore the road uniforms, but looked at home on the familiar ice of John A. Ryan Arena in Watertown.
The teams skated to a scoreless first period, but Watertown head coach Mike Hayes said he made some adjustments.
“We were beating their D about halfway and taking shots instead of driving to the net,” Hayes said. “We wanted to come out in the second and take them wide and take it to the net. We weren’t doing that in the first. It paid off.”
In a 1:42 span early in the second period the Raiders struck for three goals. Senior Tyler Poulin scored first 54 seconds into the second, with assists from senior Tyler Gardiner and senior Barry Dunn.
Gardiner got the next two goals, first at 1:59 into the second with an assist from senior Mike Giordano, and he second at 2:38 into the second from freshman Luke Murphy.
Senior Nick Martino tallied a goal from Gardiner 6:02 into the second. Watertown also killed off a 5-on-3 penalty in the second period.
The Raiders kept scoring in the third period, extending their lead to 7-0 before Weston could get on the board.
Gardiner wrapped up his hat trick 2:39 into the third from Giordano and sophomore Tim Connors. Giordano then collected two goals just 34 second apart, the first from Poulin and the second unassisted.
Hayes said the offense looked good but he said his team’s defense was the key.
“As many goals as we scored, I thought the defense was even more impressive. That’s what I was most impressed with,” Hayes said. “We killed off a 5-on-3 (penalty) and a 5-on-4. Blocked a lot of shots in the zone. To play team defense like we played, that’s a good sign. And Goalie Jason Hughes played great today.”
Weston (11-7-4), needed to pull the goalie and add an extra attacker to get on the board. Senior Mark DeBenedidis scored 8:31 into the third, on an assist from senior Bryce Grundy.
Poulin collected his second goal 9:09 into the third with an assist from Gardiner (who finished with 3 assists and 6 points).
Watertown finished the regular season two games under .500, but played in the challenging Middlesex League. The team is beginning to look like the team that won the Div. 3 State Championship a year ago. This took some time, Hayes said, because the team lost its starting goalie and all the starting defense from last year.
“I thought we had enough to compete and to figure it out. We had some freshman step up. The kid, Luke Murphy – playing D as a freshman – he’s done a great job and freed up a forward to move up,” Hayes said. “These guys are a family, they believe in themselves. They are beginning to gel. They buy in and play D.”
Watertown faces off against Shawsheen Tech on Thursday, March 10 at 8:10 p.m. at the Chelmsford Forum in the North Section semifinal. Shawsheen (10-7-4) upset the North’s top seed Lowell Catholic 6-5 in overtime, after beating Swampscott 5-4.