The Winthrop High hockey team claimed the championship of the Northeastern Conference North Division with a 2-0 victory at Beverly Saturday.
Coach Dale Dunbar and his squad thus compiled a near perfect 13-1-1 league record, edging out second place Revere (whom the Vikings defeated in both of their meetings this season) which had a 12-2-1 mark.
Nick Clewer scored what would prove to be the game and NEC title winning goal, assisted by Ricky Boudrow, at 13:54 of the first period. Boudrow added an insurance marker at 4:29 of the second frame, assisted by Dan Shannon and Mark Hamilton.
A victory over Beverly was needed to clinch an outright NEC crown because of a 2-1 loss to Peabody a few nights earlier at Larsen Rink that marred the Vikings’ undefeated record.
The visiting Tanners took a 2-0 lead into the final period and barely held on against a Viking onslaught in which the puck hardly seemed to get out of the Peabody end.
When Alex Hamilton lit the lamp just over the halfway mark of the final frame to slice the Peabody lead to 2-1, the packed house at Larsen sensed that a Viking comeback was in the offing.
Indeed, the Winthrop skaters kept the pressure on to the very end, hitting the post in the final minute, pulling the goalie for a sixth skater,and doing everything but putting the puck into the net. However, the Tanners held on and improved their record at the time to 12-2, which meant that a Winthrop loss in its final game with Beverly, coupled with a Peabody win over Revere in its final game, would have given the Tanners the outright title.
However, Peabody lost to Revere (which also was in the hunt for a share of the NEC title if Winthrop had lost) and Winthrop beat Beverly, thus crowning the Vikings as the undisputed North champs, as well as achieving the best record of all of the teams in the league in both the South and North divisions.
Winthrop followed up that triumph with a 2-0 win over Medford of the Greater Boston League on Monday. Shannon and Kenny Hodgkins, from Boudrow, scored the Viking goals.
Pat Feeley earned the shutout, making for a run of seven consecutive periods of shutout goaltending
Winthrop now will wrap up its regular season with the Viking Pride Foundation Tournament this week. The Vikings were set to meet Plymouth North today (Wednesday) at 1 p.m, and then will play in the consolation/finals against the winner/loser of the Melrose/Somerville contest. Those games will be played at 5 and 7 p.m. on Friday.
If Dunbar and Co. should win both of their final games, they should be assured of the top seed in the Division 2 North bracket of the state tourney. The seedings and pairings should be announced this Sunday.
Dunbar also announced this week that three Vikings, goaltender Feeley, defenseman Boudrow, and forward George Costa have been named to the NEC All-Star team. Feeley, who sports the best goals against average in the NEC (and the Viking defense has the best goals against average in Division 2), came within one vote of being named the MVP of the NEC (Revere defenseman Chris Mastropietro won the MVP Award for the second straight year).