Div. I Boys' Hockey: Central pulls the semifinal upset
MANCHESTER — Manchester Central avenged one loss and earned a chance to vindicate another with a 4-1 win over top-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas on Thursday night in the Division I state hockey semifinals.
Noah Duplessis scored twice in the second period and added a late empty-net for Central and goalie Ian Beliveau shut down the Saints with 28 saves for the No. 4 seed Little Green (12-7-0), runners-up a year ago after a 3-2 loss to Manchester Memorial in the final.
"It just feels great to get another shot. Last year was a pretty big disappointment but we have a chance right now to redeem ourselves," Beliveau said. "It feels great."
Jake Clark added a goal and an assist for Central, which will play Londonderry (16-4-0) for the state title Saturday. The third-seeded Lancers advanced to the finals for the first time in school history with a 5-1 win over Pinkerton in the earlier semifinal.
Niall Foster scored the only goal for St. Thomas (16-3-1), which had 29 shots but only one got through.
"We didn't really get much puck luck tonight. It seemed like everything was bouncing or going into his chest or over the net. We just couldn't really buy a goal," St. Thomas coach Andrew Leach said. "It seemed like we just didn't hit our corners. Everything we did was either over the net or wide or in the guy's belly. For some reason tonight it just didn't go our way."
Beliveau was pulled early in a 9-3 loss to the Saints in January, but was sharp all 45 minutes on Thursday. After making 12 saves in the second period, Beliveau stopped four shots in the first minute of the third with the Saints trying to cut the gap on a power play.
"He's been our backbone all year. What do you say? One goal off a team like this," Central coach Brian Stone said.
Foster tied it at 1-all with a goal for St. Thomas 3:56 into the second, but the Little Green regained the lead just 16 seconds later on a goal by Duplessis. Duplessis scored again on a backhand from the slot that slipped under Zane Angelopoulos' pads with 2:21 left in the period.