There is nothing more exciting in high school sports than the MIAA State Tournament. And there is nothing more exciting in the MIAA State Hockey Tournament than sudden death overtime.
The Winthrop High School boys hockey experienced back-to-back overtime games in this yearâ€™s State Tournament.
Mike Holgersen scored the game-winning goal in OT for the Vikings in their thrilling, come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Belchertown in their tournament opener last Thursday at the Larsen Rink at the Mike Eruzione Center. Phil Boncore and Jack Hayes also netted goals to help Winthrop rally from a 2-0 deficit and tie the game at 2-2 before Holgersen became the instant hero with his game-winner.
Winthrop and Amesbury took it to the extra session in the Round of 16 game Sunday at Larsen Rink. Amesburyâ€™s Joe Duggan tied the game in the final two minutes of regulation before CAL Baker Division MVP Hunter Belisle scored the game-winner with 4:43 left in overtime.
â€œThe kids played great hockey, but we couldnâ€™t get that goal-separation, said head coach Dale Dunbar. â€œWe were unable to get that lead that we needed. It was uncharacteristic that we gave up a late goal [versus Amesbury]. We practice those situations all the time. It was kind of surprising to give up that type of goal. We just didnâ€™t get the bounce.â€
The Vikings enjoyed a superb season that produced an NEC championship and a 16-3-1 record that earned the No. 3 seed in the State Tournament.
â€œItâ€™s very unfortunate the way it ended, itâ€™s so abrupt, but we had a great year,â€ said Dunbar. â€œThis was the best group of kids Iâ€™ve ever coached. I loved being in the room with them every day. Theyâ€™re just tremendous.â€
Individually, for junior Petey Silverman, the 2022-23 season was one for the ages. Silverman had a breakout campaign during which he received well-deserved recognition as the undisputed league MVP and one of the stateâ€™s best high school hockey players.
There is much speculation about Silvermanâ€™s future plans, but with another season under the tutelage of Dale Dunbar – who has masterfully developed many talented players to compete at the next level â€“ Silverman, a truly electrifying presence on the ice, would be in a position to become the most decorated hockey player in the Winthrop programâ€™s history while joining his returning teammates players on a run at long-awaited state championship.
The tremendous crowds at Larsen Rink showed that Winthrop appreciates excellent hockey.