By Cary Shuman
The East Boston High School ice hockey team has become the Cinderella story of the State Tournament with impressive wins over Newton South (3-2) and Lynn (3-0).
“I’d say we’re the underdog of this tournament,” commented Jets’ coach Bob Anthony before practice Monday at Porrazzo Rink.
Lynn, who is also known as the Jets, entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed and one of the favorites but Eastie goalie Thomas Guarino turned aside all 29 shots to help the Blue and Gold pull off the upset Sunday at O’Brien Rink in Woburn.
“He [Guarino] has come up huge in both games,” said Anthony. “He was stopping everything [vs. Lynn]. He was like a brick wall out there.”
Guarino, who was also credited with a save on a Lynn penalty shot, received excellent support from defensemen Matt Tauro, Anthony Nastari, and Billy Saunders. Tauro was immense while logging more than 40 minutes on the ice.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game but with my team in front of me, I knew it was going to be a team effort all the way,” said Guarino, who played in the Malden/East Boston Youth Hockey program. “I can’t take all the credit for it. My offense and my defense blocked a lot of shots. It was an all-around effort.”
Guarino, whose father, Ralph, played hockey at Savio, made a terrific save on a slapshot from the point in the second period. He used his glove to pocket the sizzler through some screens in front of the net.
“I can’t say enough about my defensemen. Tauro is out there the whole game. We only have three defensement but our offense helps out a lot in backchecking. We’re taking this tournament game by game and it’s great to get this far.”
Ken Lockhead had a goal and two assists in the big victory over Lynn. His twin brother, John Lockhead, scored an empty net goal to seal the game while Robert Gray scored the middle goal.
Ryan Tosco, Robert Gray and Ken Lockhead had the goals in the Jets’ win over Newton South in the tournament opener.
Anthony said the team has jelled after a 6-0 loss to Latin Academy in the City Championships.
“The kids are really working together and have completely turned it around,” said Anthony, who has been the Jets’ coach since the 2000 season. “We have 11 players and two are goalies and we’re going up against teams that have 22 skaters. Our players log a lot of ice time. Coach [Dom] DiMarzo instituted power skating this year and the players are in better condition.”
Robert Gray, Ken Lockhead, and John Lockhead have produced well on the first line. The second line of Ryan Tosco, Jacob Leavitt, and E.J. White has played consistent two-way hockey.
Anthony said a fast start was crucial versus Lynn. “Ken Lockhead’s goal off a nice feed from John was big for us and gave us an early lift.”
Ken Lockhead, John Lockhead, Robert Gray, Matt Tauro, and Ryan Tosco helped East Boston deny Lynn on a four-minute power play in the third period with Eastie protecting a 2-0 lead. Guarino also made key saves with the Jets shorthanded.
“Everyone predicted that Lynn was going to beat us,” said Anthony. “I think we can keep it going. I’m proud of this team.”
East Boston plays Wayland Thursday (6:10 p.m.) in the Division 3 North semifinals.