Burlington beat Andover 3-1 on Wednesday night in the first round of the Division 1 North Hockey Tournament, using a proven blueprint for success, play great defense in your own end and rely on your top line to do the scoring.
That top line of Brett Romkey, Joe Berardi and Brian Hood notched two of the Red Devils three goals as the team punched their ticket to the next round.
Burlington came out and controlled the game early on, playing with most of the early action taking place in Andover’s zone, outshooting them 8-1 midway through the first period. Andover controlled most of the second half of the period testing sophomore goalie Derek DeCastro in his first state tournament game but he was up to the challenge casting aside all of their shots.
Finally at 14:14 of the opening period, Burlington got on the scoreboard when Romkey put a puck past Andover goalie Kyle Berthiume. Romkey positioned himself right in front of the Berthiume and got a feed from Berardi, who was behind the net and put it in. Hood also picked up an assist on the goal. DeCastro made sure that lead held as he stopped an Andover breakaway with 10 seconds remaining to give Burlington all the momentum after the first 15 minutes.
Burlington didn’t waste much time adding to the lead in the second when Hood found the back of the net, just 3:38 into the period. He displayed great patience on the goal, waiting for Berthiume to make the first move before he backhanded it past him to give Burlington a 2-0 lead. Berardi’s assist might have been better then the goal as he took a big hit to deliver a perfect past.
After the goal, Burlington kept shooting themselves in the foot committing three penalties forcing themselves to spend most of the duration of the second period on the penalty kill. They did a good job killing the first two, highlighted by a huge hit from defensemen RJ Caruso, which got the large Burlington student section into the game, but Andover finally scored on the team’s third power play opportunity.
They put a lot of traffic in front of the net screening Decastro, and Jim Burns deflected a shot that bounced past him. Matt Swett and David Beluche would pickup assists on the goal as Andover went into the final intermission down by just a goal.
Burlington came out in the third period applying tremendous defensive pressure and didn’t allow Andover any quality scoring opportunities. At the 11:43 mark they added an insurmountable insurance goal when Kyle Crowley scored through Berthiume’s five hole. After winning a faceoff in their own zone Trevor Cimino displayed some nice skating and stick-handling down the ice delivering a nice pass to Crowley who finished it.
DeCastro stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced to get the win while Berthiume cast aside 21 of 24 to get the loss. Andover will finish the season with a record of 9-10-3, good for third place in Division 1 of the Merrimack Valley/Dual County League.
Burlington now advances to the quarter finals to play top seed St. Mary’s of Lynn on Saturday afternoon at 1 pm at the Ned O’Brien rink in Woburn. St. Mary’s had a bye in the first round after falling to Central Catholic 3-1 in the play-in game for the Super 8. Last year it was Burlington who held the top seed only to fall to St. Mary’s 5-1 in the semi-finals. This game has been a year in the making for Burlington players and fans who are relishing a shot at payback on Saturday.