STONEHAM -- On paper, it seemed as though the No. 7 seed Dracut Middies were at a disadvantage against the No. 2 seed Northeast Regional Knights in Sunday's MIAA Division 3 boys hockey quarterfinal.

The Knights had the better regular season record, the higher seed, and a first-round bye. But once the puck dropped, the Middies left no doubt who was the better team in a 4-1 victory at Stoneham Arena.

The Middies controlled the puck in the Knights' zone for much of the game, but the Knights got on the board first at 4:23 of the first period. Steve Czarnota fired a shot that was stopped initially by Dracut goalie Patrick Carney, but the puck slithered between his legs, allowing Czarnota to speed towards the crease and put it in the net before Carney could react.

That would be as good as it got for the Knights, as the Middies tied the game five minutes later when John Raikos screened Knights goalie Anthony Giuliano, took a pass from Brian Smith, and forced into the net. They would take the lead for good at 11:23 when Reed Bourgeois flicked a shot just over the extended right leg of Giuliano.

"We've been down three before and come back," Dracut head coach Mike Marshall said. "Going down doesn't shake them up at all. They have pretty good composure."

The Knights had a chance to tie the game two minutes later in a similar fashion to their earlier goal, but the officials whistled the play dead before they saw the puck trickling out from underneath Carney.


Advertisement

The Middies continued to dictate the pace of the game in the second period, outshooting the Knights, 16-2. Only one shot went in for the Middies, however, and that was at 8:26 when Ricky Beckwith weaved past two defenders and put the puck between Giuliano's legs to make it 3-1.

The Middies put the game away in the third period on an impressive end-to-end play. Payne Bourgeois lofted the puck from his own end into the Knights' zone, where his brother Reed fired a shot that deflected off Giuliano and right to the feet of Jack Brown, who cleaned up the rebound to make the score 4-1.

"We played solid," Marshall said. "We had good forechecking and good backchecking. Our forecheck kept the puck down low, and we kept rotating and sending the puck out to the points."

The only area where the Middies didn't outplay the Knights was on the power play. The Middies went 0-for-9 on the man advantage (including five power plays in the second period alone), while the Knights went 1-for-3.

"We just changed our power play a week ago," Marshall said. "That's not been a strong suit of ours all year long, so we changed it up and now we're getting shots on net."

Carney made 15 saves for the Middies, while Giuliano made 39 saves for the Knights (15-7-1).

Ten different players registered a point for the Middies (12-7-2), who will face MV/DCL rival and No. 3 seed Newton South in the semifinals Thursday at the Chelmsford Forum (8:10 p.m.). The Middies and the Lions split their regular season meetings, with each team winning at home.

The Lions defeated Lowell Catholic, 6-1, in another quarterfinal game.

"We know them well, and they know us well," Marshall said of the impending matchup. "There's going to be no secrets, and it'll be a great game."