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|Boys' hockey season comes to an end|
|Sunday, 13 March 2011 19:02|
After making the tournament by tying the last game of the regular season, and then knocking off the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds to advance to the South Sectional semifinals, the Dragons went deeper into post-season play then many experts expected.
For their efforts, they earned the right to play No. 1 seed Springfield Cathedral (13-9-1), who had lost its Super 8 play-in battle to Woburn and therefore became the top seed in the Division 1 tournament. After a 4-0 shutout of Natick in the quarterfinals, the Panthers felt confident when they took on the No. 13 seeded Dragons at Gallo Arena in Bourne on Friday night.
If they were hoping to surprise the Panthers with a tight-checking defensive effort, the first thing they needed to do was keep up with them, and that proved to be difficult, as Cathedral whistled a shot off the post behind goaltender Tim Matthews in the first minute of play.
It was the first of many shots that buzzed the Duxbury net, with the winning goal coming less than four minutes into the game when junior forward Frank Crinella found himself alone in the slot where he fired a shot that beat Matthews from about 20 feet out for a 1-0 lead.
The Dragons were having serious problems penetrating the Panther defense, as their shot total crept slowly along as the period progressed.
At the 7:58 mark of the period, Duxbury had its first serious scoring bid when Evan Jackson fired a shot on goaltender Zac Rondeau after getting tied up on his first attempt out front. It was one of just a few (4) scoring chances the Dragons had in the first period and the rebound triggered a transition attack by Cathedral that resulted in a Matthews save through a screen of players in front.
The rest of the period was controlled by the Panthers, who out-shot the Dragons by a 9-4 margin, yet just maintained a slim 1-0 lead after 15 minutes.
It was much of the same in the second period, as Cathedralâ€™s Thomas Quinlan fired point-blank on Matthews less than a minute into the period. The pressure continued in the Duxbury defensive end, as the Panthers drew a penalty 17 seconds later. Cathedral moves the puck around on the power-play as well as any team in high school hockey. A pass went deep into the zone to senior forward Sean Kavanaugh, who was stationed to Matthewsâ€™ right. Dante Christofori came barreling in from Matthews left and took a pass across the crease from Kavanaugh and buried it past Matthews for a 2-0 lead.
The action stayed in the Duxbury end for most of the period, as Crinella walked out of the corner and was robbed by Matthews to keep the Dragons in the game. But 44 seconds later it was becoming a grind for Duxbury, when they trailed 3-0 on a beautiful top-shelf shot by senior forward Matt Peloquin, who was assisted by defenseman Griffin Foley at the 10:45 mark.
The Dragons would get consecutive power-plays midway through the period, but their offensive struggles continued while the Panthers almost scored shorthanded on the second one. Duxburyâ€™s futility would finally end with 2:04 left in the middle period, not by scoring a goal, but by registering their first shot on net of the period that would yield just two.
Trailing by three goals with 15 minutes to go was almost an impossible task to overcome, and it was made even more difficult when the Panthers put two more goals on the board in the middle of the period for an eventual 5-0 win.
â€œWe knew it was going to take as perfect a game as possible,â€ said Coach John Blake. â€œThey were more skilled than us and when you make a mistake itâ€™s going to end up in the back of the net. We didnâ€™t do great with our coverages out front and we know they always look to the slot as an option. We know about their power-play and it has to be one of the best in the state. They move the puck well and know where each other is all the time. They had a couple of power-play goals and when you make a mistake against someone like that you are going to be in trouble. We made too many tonight. Offensively, we just couldnâ€™t penetrate. We wanted to get more pucks on net, but we just couldnâ€™t.â€
The Dragons ended the season with a 9-8-8 record and the game marked the end of the high school hockey careers of seniors Stephan Krall, Nick Buonvicino, Kane Haffey, Bryan Barry, Pat Sweeney, Tim Matthews and James Magner.