Byline: Jay Gearan
FITCHBURG - It's the late-February waiting stage now - waiting for the Central Mass. Tournament pairings.
But the red-hot Gardner High hockey team would rather not wait. The Wildcats want to lace up their skates as soon as possible and skate into the postseason.
Ending its regular season with four straight victories and three straight shutouts, including yesterday's 3-0 victory over North Middlesex at the Wallace Civic Center, Gardner is eager for the next game's puck drop.
"There's no better way to finish the regular season than the way we did it," Gardner coach Jean-Guy Gagnon said.
The Wildcats (11-6-3) got goals from senior captain Bill McMahon and sophomores Damien Blodgett and Jordan Davis, plus a 12-save performance from goalie Mike Colcord.
The junior notched his sixth shutout of the season, and praised his team's defense saying, "They play so hard and get the job done. They're phenomenal."
Among the defensive standouts for the Wildcats were Tyrone Notice, Robbie Leger, Corey Grenier and Andrew Savard.
The Wildcats, 3-0 winners over Marlboro on Wednesday night, keyed by backup goalie Ed Hentnik's shutout, showed no signs of letdown against the 3-15-2 Patriots, who surprisingly tied Leominster the night before.
"Our defense is playing great, diving for the puck and blocking shots," Gagnon said. "I'm been coaching for 32 years, and I've never had seven shutouts in a 20-game season."
The first period was scoreless for more than 10 minutes until the Wildcats struck for a power-play goal.
McMahon, in the low slot, one-timed a perfect pass from Lukas Paine, who was fed by junior Eric O'Reilly.