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|Dragons shock Wellesley in shootout|
|Written by Mike Halloran|
|Tuesday, 08 March 2011 08:50|
I guess we can call them The Little Engine That Could. Coming within one goal of failing to make the MIAA Division I tournament, the Duxbury boysâ€™ hockey team wouldnâ€™t give up, tying Arlington Catholic in their final game of the Cape Cod Classic and ending their regular season with a 7-7-8 record.
There was only one team with a worse record in the Division I South Sectional Tournament, so not much was expected of a young Duxbury team when they were pitted against No. 4 Bridgewater-Raynham (14-5-1) in last Wednesdayâ€™s first-round play.
Having lost to the Trojans (2-1) during the regular season, Coach John Blakeâ€™s team knew what to expect and they were ready. Despite trailing 1-0 early on a goal by John Connolly, Duxbury would tie the game five minutes later on a Mitch Barrington blast. The teams remained tied entering the third period, but the Dragons were having plenty of trouble moving the puck out of their own end, as the Trojans continued to pressure goaltender Tim Matthews.
Finally Duxbury was able to get their offense in gear with the clock winding down.Â With five and a half minutes to go, senior captain Nick Buonvicino came down the left wing and went around the defender, firing his shot on goaltender Craig Pantano and watching it break through his pads for the game-winner with 5:23 remaining.
Despite being outshot, 24-22, the Dragons made their chances count and moved on to face No. 5-seeded Wellesley (13-5-2) on Saturday night in Brockton.
Any team that plays in the Bay State League is battle tested during the regular season and will make you work extra hard to earn your goals. No one worked harder in the first period than Matthews, who faced the Raiders on three power plays in the first seven minutes and was finally beaten on the third one when Peter Crane poked at a rebound that dribbled across the goal line for a 1-0 lead with 7:52 left in the first period.
The Raiders were dominating first-period play, as the penalties were killing any chance the Dragons had of getting their offense going.
Penalties continued to plague both teams, but Wellesley continued to control the action and make Matthews work. A scoring bid by Andrew Docktor at the 8:10 mark and a break-away by Sam Lawrence two minutes later were foiled by Matthews, but the buzzing of the Duxbury net continued and they made it pay at the 5:25 mark when Ryan Cassidy came out from behind the net and stuffed the puck inside the post for a 2-0 lead.
A two-goal deficit looked like a huge mountain to climb for the low-scoring Dragons, but there is a reason Bryan Barry is the teamâ€™s captain. Less than two minutes later, the senior dazzled the Wellesley defense and the crowd by circling out of the corner and around three defenders before lifting his shot into the top left corner to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Barryâ€™s play seemed to ignite his teammates, as Will Siefert had a serious scoring bid with 2:15 to go and then tied the game with 26 seconds left in the second period when he knocked home a rebound with assists going to Tim Harrison and Evan Jackson.
With renewed confidence, it was expected Duxbury would come out battling at the start of the final 15 minutes. Instead, the Raiders continued to pressure Matthews, forcing him to continue to stand on his head.
Finally the Dragons were able to penetrate deep into the Wellesley zone with Siefert getting the puck in the right corner. Extricating himself from the Raider defense, he went toward the net and fired on goaltender Zach Herbert-Burns. The puck squeezed between the netminder and the post to give Duxbury a 3-2 lead with 10:22 left in the game.
Midway through the period the Raiders knew they had their work cut out for them and were relentless on Matthews for a full minute, as the Dragons were unable to clear the zone, forcing their goaltender to make a save and tie up the puck for a whistle with 5:44 to go.
With a face-off to Matthews right, Wellesley won the draw as Docktor and Cassidy combined on the face-off for a shot on net. Brendan Baker was in perfect position and knocked home the rebound to tie the game at 3-3.
Although the Raiders dominated the first 10 minutes of the final period, it was Duxbury who had the best chance at winning it in the last five minutes when Jackson was in the slot and fired a shot headed for the top left corner before Herbert-Burns flashed out his glove for the save with 19 seconds to go.
The first overtime was highlighted by a pair of Matthews saves in the first 60 seconds, as the Dragons continued to have trouble getting the puck out of their own zone. When they finally made it over the Wellesley blue line the Raider defense made life difficult, blocking the Duxbury shots and rarely letting them get through on net.
When OT ended at 3-3, the outcome and advancement in the tournament now came down to a shootout with both teams getting five attempts to start.
Duxbury was up first and missed on their first two attempts, while Wellesley was stopped before Trent Kapinos delivered a 1-0 lead on a controversial score. The Dragons trailed 1-0 when Barry came to center ice for Duxburyâ€™s final attempt. As he wove toward the Wellesley net, the senior got in close and lifted his shot into the top left corner to keep the Dragons alive.
Matthews came up big once again, as he sent Cassidyâ€™s potential game-winner up and over the net. Now into their extra skaters, neither team could tickle the twine until sophomore Bobby Oâ€™Brien (skater No. 7) went in on net and fired his shot up and over Herbert-Burnsâ€™ left shoulder for a 2-1 lead.
The pressure was now on Baker to keep his team in the playoffs, but Matthews rose to the occasion once again and smothered the junior forwardâ€™s shot and Wellesleyâ€™s chances, as the Dragons exited the bench to mob Matthews.
â€œThey were doing different things with different lines and we werenâ€™t prepared for that,â€ said Blake. â€œI thought we were very shaky in the first period and the penalties were disrupting us. Once we scored those goals there became a flow to the game and we could roll out the lines the way we wanted to. The big problem in the first period was we were undisciplined and took some bad penalties.â€
As for the overtime and shootout it came down on the shoulders of Matthews.
â€œHe made five or six huge saves in the shootout alone and he has developed into one of the leaders of this team. The second half of the season the guys loved playing in front of him and heâ€™s one of the big reasons we are here.â€
The magical ride continues for the Dragons on Friday night, when they take on No. 1 seeded Springfield Cathedral in the Division I South Sectional semifinals. The time and site has yet to be determined.