Watertown and Wayland have been familiar foes in the Div. 3 North Section boys hockey tournament, and the teams face off again Monday night for the Section Title.
The game will be a rubber match, of sorts, with the teams splitting the last two tourney match ups.
In 2014, Wayland prevailed in overtime over the Raiders in the section semifinal. Last year, again in the section semis, Watertown got revenge by beating the Warriors 4-1 on the way to winning the Raiders’ first boys hockey state championship.
The teams will be at it again Monday at Woburn’s O’Brien Rink at 7 p.m.
Looking at the brackets, neither team was expected to make it this deep into the tournament. Wayland is the sixth seed, (13-6-4) and Watertown (12-11) came in as the 13th and last seed.
The Raiders have been lead by the all-senior first line of Tyler Gardiner, Tyler Poulin and Mike Giordano. Gardiner has the most postseason goals, with five, and Poulin and Giordano have three apiece. Senior Nick Martino has two of his own.
While Watertown has plenty of experience offensively, the defense and goalie did not have much coming into the year. Watertown Head Coach Mike Hayes said the team has matured over the season, and senior goalie Jason Hughes has been solid, including a shutout against Northeast Regional in the first round.
The key to the Raiders’ success, Hayes said, is the team unity. After comfortable wins in the first two rounds (3-0 over Northeast Regional and 8-1 over Weston), the Raiders won a heart stopper over Shawsheen Tech, 2-1 in a shootout, after the game ended 4-4 after double overtime.
“They are a family and they don’t want to lose,” Hayes said.
Wayland lost eight players from last year’s team, but the Warriors have won three tourney games. Hayes said the section final will present a tough test.
“We’ve got Wayland again,” Hayes said. “It will be a battle. They are a very good team – physical, skilled. The whole shebang.”
Wayland defeated Dracut 4-2 in the first round and then shutout Latin Academy 4-0 behind the goaltending of junior Andrew Ludwig.
The Warriors fell behind early their section semifinal with East Boston, 2-1, but pulled away to win comfortably, 7-4.
Wayland’s co-top tourney scorers are sophomore Joe Lyons (who had a hat trick against East Boston) and senior Joe Christakis, who have both scored four goals. Junior Christian Boschetto and sophomore Riley Bonner each have two postseason goals.
The winner of the North Section final has a date with South Section Champ Hanover (20-3-1) in the state semifinal in Bourne on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Follow the action from the Watertown-Wayland game on the Watertown News Twitter feed, @WatertownMANews.