After it was stymied by the Central Catholic boys’ hockey team in the first two periods of play, host Waltham finally struck a blow with 8:19 remaining to tally the only goal of a 1-0 upset victory over the top-ranked and undefeated Raiders on Wednesday night.
Sophomore forward Connor Blanchard scored the winning goal, pouncing on a loose puck and blowing past a Central defenseman who had fallen down on the ice. With a clear path down the right side of the ice, Blanchard broke in on Central goaltender Matt Pasquale (22 saves) for a shot that sailed just above the netminder’s glove. It rattled off the bottom of the crossbar and deflected into the cage to help the Hawks (12-3-2) score their biggest win of the season by handing the best team in the state its first loss (16-1).
“I saw the opening, just skated as fast as I could, amazing feeling,” Blanchard said, beaming. “I knew I had something right away, I just went in and shot it.
“I really have no words to describe it, I’m still in shock about it.”
Waltham’s senior netminder, Kyle Penton, stood tall in the face of Central’s dynamic offense, with 31 saves in the upset victory while backstopping his team on four successful penalty kills during which he turned away nine shots.
On Central’s best chance of the day, Penton gloved down a blistering wrist shot from the slot on a split save late in the second period.
“We had to have an outstanding night in net from our goalie and Kyle Penton was tremendous,” said Waltham coach John Maguire. “Especially in the first period, we could’ve been down three or four, they’re that good and he’s that good. To come out of there 0-0 gave us a chance . . . it was a great team win.”
In the final half of the third period, the Raiders went to work on their final two power plays of the game, which overlapped a 9-second 5-on-3. The Hawks withstood six shots by Central in that time frame before the Raiders turned up the heat by pulling their netminder for an extra skater in the final minute. Despite having the numbers advantage, Penton stood strong and helped Waltham hold on for the upset.
“I didn’t think they were going to score, I knew we could hold them off,” Penton said of the frenzied final 30 seconds. “I saw the empty net, and we got it out [of the zone] so I knew we were going to win.”
Franklin 1, Canton 0 — Freshman Natalie Stott turned in a heroic performance in net for the Panthers (11-3-3), making 38 saves to shut out the No. 10 Bulldogs (10-2-3).
Cardinal Spellman 77, Bishop Fenwick 46 — Senior point guard A.J. Jaramillo poured in 29 points for the Cardinals.
Mystic Valley 66, Whittier 59 — Junior guard Joshua Briceus (18 points, 10 rebounds), junior forward Ben Soto (17 points, 8 rebounds), and sophomore guard Alfie Tsang (13 points, 6 rebounds) led the Eagles (12-5).
Whitman-Hanson 45, Plymouth North 34 — Juniors Kathryn Dunn and Erin Leahy combined for 22 points and 18 rebounds in the win for the Panthers (12-5).
Westford 50, Billerica 42 — Emily Bramanti scored 14 points to pace the No. 4 Grey Ghosts (13-3).
North Middlesex 52, Westborough 40 — Hadley Beauregard had 15 points and seven assists to become the all-time leading female scorer in school history as the Patriots (9-8) topped the visiting Rangers (5-11, 2-5). Beauregard has scored 1,145 points in her career, which surpassed the previous mark of 1,142, set by Jen Carson (Class of 2000).
Winthrop High did not renew the contract of varsity football coach Sean Driscoll, 50, a 1986 alum who spent the past 20 seasons on the Viking sideline, the first nine as an assistant, going 60-72 overall. Driscoll was informed last week he would not be retained after a 2-9 season.Correspondent Nate Weitzer also contributed to this story..