It was supposed to be another easy victory for the East last night at Boston Garden, but it took a sensational late-game spurt by Mike Martin to carry undefeated Norwood to a 3-1 victory over surprising St. John’s of Shrewsbury for the Division 1 championship of the State Hockey Tournament.
Earlier in the day, Barnstable became the first Division II champion in history as it bombed Amherst, 11-2, as the combined attraction drew 9864.
“That team (St. John’s) hustled. They weren’t that bad,” insisted Norwood coach Don Wheeler who had to recharge his team after battling to the Eastern Massachusetts title the previous Monday night.
“We didn’t play well for two periods and then we came out and won it on guts in the third period.
“They tried to intimidate us. We took some pretty tough shots. But that was the worst thing they could have done. They made us mad and we went out and took the game.
“It was tough to come back for this game after the win over Arlington. It was hard to get the team up, while for St. John’s the game was the whole world.”
The Western Mass, champion gave the Norwood club, which finished with a 23-0 record, all it could handle. it took a sensational individual effort by All-Scholastic center Martin to pull it out.
Martin scored the winning goal and set up an insurance marker in the final three minutes after coming back from a shoulder injury in the opening seconds of the third period.
Norwood had jumped off to a 1-0 lead in the first period on a goal off the stick of third-liner Ed McQuaid.
St. John’s, a fourth-place finisher in the Central Mass. League during the regular season, evened the count late in the second period when the puck deflected up off goaltender Bill Pieri’s stick and Mark Farley was positioned perfectly in front to bait it in.
It was anybody’s game with time running out when John Bertrand went into the penalty box for cross-checking and the Norwood power play clicked. Ed King and Bill Clifford controlled the puck with a rebound finally coming out to Martin in the slot. He Quickly flicked a snapshot low to sophomore goaltender Jim Stuart’s stick side.
It was Martin again with less than two minutes remaining. This time he came up with the puck along the right boards and made a perfect centering pass to King breaking for the net. The big left winger fired a wrist shot into the St. John’s net from 15 feet out.
From the pages of the 1972 Tiot:
The 1971-1972 high school hockey season proved to be the most successful in Norwood’s history.
The pressure was on the Norwood Mustangs from the start. Great things were expected from the squad by their loyal supporters and the news media. Most of all, the team believed in itself and strived to succeed — with an eye on the State Schoolboy Tournament and a chance to play nemesis Arlington.
Coach Don Wheeler and his assistant, Jack O’Neil, instilled a hustling, never-give-up attitude into their talented skaters. This was most evident during the B.S.L. season as the Mustangs rose to the occasion many times against their foes to compile a tremendous 18-0-0 record.
Norwood’s record-breaking first wave of all-star seniors, Mike Martin, Billy Clifford, and Asst Capt. and B.S.L.-M.V.P. Ed King, punished opposing goalies with its power. As proof of the line’s effectiveness, King, Clifford, and Martin were the top three scorers in the league.
Yet the depth of this team really showed with second-line super-sophomores, Greg Walker and Dan Bayer, combining with experienced senior Bill Denehy to harass Norwood’s opponents with their fine play.
The strong defense of this club was led by Senior Captain and All-Star Pete Brown whose outstanding play during the past four varsity seasons has been instrumental in Norwood’s surge to the top. Hard-hitting varsity veteran Al Skene combined with spirited juniors Kevin Hurley and Bob Lawrie to provide Norwood with awesome defense.
Bill Pieri once again showed his prowess in the net as he came up with many a clutch save. He was ably backed up by Louie Parker, whose excellent play gave Norwood goaltending insurance. Other key players who contributed much to the team’s success were: Senior, Don Reddick; Juniors, Mark Balerna, Ed McQuaid, Paul O’Day, Mike Costello, and Fred Carbone; and Sophomores, Frank Baglione, Roger Battles, and Pete Thomas. Manager John Kerr and Assistant Manager Rick Flaherty kept the team supplied with all the necessities of a hockey team.
With machine-like precision the N.H.S. hockey team defeated Arlington 3-2 in the Eastern Mass, finals, culminating a season of exciting hockey. Our All-Tourney selections were Bill Clifford, Pete Brown, and Ed King. Norwood is certainly proud of the Wheelermen for their accomplishments this year.
We’re number one!!
Tue, Mar 21, 1972 – The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts)
By Kevin Walsh, Globe Staff
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