By Cary Shuman
Competing on the biggest stage for the biggest trophy in the sport, the St. Mary’s High School boys hockey team captured the Division 1 state title in impressive fashion.
Senior captains Michael Zampanti and Dante Maribito each scored two goals while senior goaltender Andrew LoRusso led another clutch defensive effort to propel St. Mary’s to a 4-2 victory over Framingham Sunday at the TD Garden.
It was the first state hockey title for the program and head coach Mark Lee, who is in his 31st season. The St. Mary’s team bus, players and coaches, received the honor of a Lynn Police and Fire escort upon its return to the city.
“First and foremost, it’s all about the kids,” said Lee. “We went for a state title three times. We lost the first two. The third time’s a charm, I guess. But I didn’t score one goal or make one save. These players went out and did it. So all the credit to them.”
After a scoreless first period in which Andrew LoRusso and Framingham goalie Alex Moore traded big saves, St. Mary’s (18-7-2) broke the deadlock in the opening minute of the second period.
Michael Zampanti took control of the puck behind the Framingham net, slid the puck past a Framingham player and skated to the net and deposited a wraparound goal for a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Colin Reddy, who had scored the winning goal in the North final versus Andover, assisted on the play.
Maribito then showed the crowd why he was one of the best players in Massachusetts again this season. Maribito turned on the jets and then stick-handled and skated past the Framingham defense for an electrifying goal and a 2-0 lead.
Zampanti delivered his second goal with 46 seconds left in the second period before Maribito made it 4-0 at the 3:18 mark of the final period.
St. Mary’s defensemen Marc Zampanti, Andrew Kramer, Kyle Ouellette,and Nicholas Scalli helped continue a streak of shot blocking and puck clearing excellence that began in an overtime win over Reading and continued through five consecutive postseason victories. Junior forward Anthony Bono produced another outstanding two-way performance.
Maribito, who had an extraordinary four-year career and will attend Phillips Andover Academy, said afterwards, “It’s the best feeling ever. I’ve been here for four years and we’ve all been chasing this one goal. To have my last game be a state championship win is unbelievable – I really don’t know how to describe it.”
Zampanti, who celebrated the victory on the ice with his twin brother, Marc, said he was happy to score the all-important first goal.
“Getting that first goal boosted the whole team up and gave us confidence,” said Zampanti.
LoRusso said Zampanti’s goal “was huge and made my life a lot easier.”
“My defense was keeping shots outside and lifting sticks and overall I couldn’t have done this without the team in front of me and especially the coaches as well.”
Mark Lee tried to sum up the magnitude of the accomplishment after the game.
“We’ve come close a lot of times and today to finish it off with this group is really special,” said Lee. “For a team to repeat as North champions two years in a row is a feat in and of itself. And to finish the job today is just a great feeling.”