Highlanders rally to tie Medford
By Mike Stoller
Somerville and Medford duked it out in a highly entertaining Greater Boston League hockey tilt Saturday, in a game that proved to be a microcosm of the greater battle for the league title.
With Saturday’s solid 3-3 tie with visiting Medford, the Highlanders also stayed tied with the Mustangs for first place with seven points in the league standings. Both teams stand at 3-0-1.
Overall, Somerville improved its record to 6-3-3 and needs only five points in eight games to qualify for the state tournament.
The Highlanders rallied from a 3-1 deficit with two goals in the third period to earn the tie.
In some way, the comeback was almost as big as a win for the Highlanders, whose current seniors have played to only tough defeats against the Mustangs in past years.
“This game was big for our seniors, who have never beat Medford,” Somerville head coach Chuck Allen said. “We played a great second period. We outplayed them, but came out losing. We had our chances, but sometimes you don’t get the bounces. But we kept our composure and came out in the third period and gave a great effort and were rewarded with a tie.”
With four minutes left in the game, on the power play, Troy Martini converted on a play set up by C.J. Albanese and Dan Camara.
Then, after pulling the goalie, Somerville struck again with just 40 ticks left. Matt Vogel breezed a beautiful slap shot into the top corner glove side, after taking a terrific pass from Camara from along the boards.
The Highlanders also rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the first period, when Albanese tallied on feed from Shayne Lafee.
“It was a tight forechecking game, and emotions were up,” Allen said. “It’s a big rivalry.”
Sergey Markelov earned the win in goal, stopping 15 shots.
The overall effort keeps the Highlanders strongly in the hunt for the league crown, which has slipped by them on the ice for more than two decades. Somerville has one game left against Medford on the road Feb. 6.
“We have to keep playing this way,” Allen said. “We’re playing disciplined, and the whole game was a good game for us. It was a hard grinding, clean game. And tying the game was big for us.”
Also, in last week’s game against Everett, Camara led the Highlanders with a hat trick and two assists. Sophomore Anthony “Turtle” Vallesio and Albanese each had a pair of goals, and Lafee also scored. Martini chipped in with two assists.
“We won, but I don’t change my style [in that] as a coach you’re never satisfied. You always have things to work on,” Allen said. “I’m happy with the result. And we got some kids into play who haven’t played that much, so that was good for team morale.”
Markelov played the first two periods in goal, and junior Tim Megnia took over in the final frame. Each allowed only one goal.
“We didn’t look past this game to Medford, which is big,” Allen said. “We responded, and I was happy about that. Today’s another day.”
The Highlanders will host Cambridge Rindge and Latin tonight.