STONEHAM — Rockport head hockey coach Derek Papalegis beefed up his team’s non-conference schedule this season with hopes that it would pay dividends come tournament time.
After the tenth seeded Vikings performance in their 4-1 win over No. 7 Wayland in the Division 3 North First Round at Stoneham Arena Thursday, it’s pretty safe to say that Rockport’s tough schedule has paid off in the long run.
Rockport (9-8-2) looked comfortable playing in a nip and tuck contest and its composure and execution down the stretch ended up being the difference. Senior captain Mike Tupper’s goal with just under 10 minutes to play in the third period broke a 1-1 tie and essentially spring boarded the Vikings into the sectional quarterfinals where they will square off with No. 2 Marblehead (17-5).
The game is scheduled for Saturday back at Stoneham Arena, time 7 p.m.
“We played a tough schedule for games like this during this time of year,” Papalegis said. “Every game in the tournament in so tough and we know that. We had been in those tough games before and we were able to grind out a win tonight.”
Senior goalie Colby Foster was outstanding in the win turning in one of his best if not his best performance of the year with 31 saves. Wayland got one puck past Foster in the first period and from there on in the senior net minder turned away every shot and scoring opportunity that came his way. With Rockport struggling early in the game Foster was there to make several key stops. In the third period Foster was also there in the clutch to thwart a desperate Wayland attack.
“Colby came to play tonight,” Papalegis said. “He is a big reason why we were able to hang around early and he was great in the third period too.”