The Duxbury High School boys’ hockey team missed an opportunity to reach the .500 mark for the first time this season when it battled back from a 3-1 deficit to tie Hanover, 3-3, in Patriot League action.
Designated as the home team in Saturday night’s contest at the Rockland Arena, the Dragons came out somewhat lethargic in the opening 15 minutes of play and watched as Hanover controlled first-period action by outshooting Duxbury by an 11-5 margin.
Hanover was rewarded for its efforts by grabbing a 1-0 lead at the 8:04 mark, but it appeared the Dragons tied it up three minutes later when they put one past Hanover goalie Elija Marciello, only to have it whistled off with a quick call by the officials who felt he had possession despite it dropping out of his glove.
Duxbury survived the Hanover onslaught and made up for its embarrassing first-period effort by dominating second period play and outshooting the Indians by a 16-3 margin.
One of those shots tied the game in the first minute of action, as junior forward James Marcello knocked home a rebound out front with assists to sophomore forwards Mike Doyle and Nick Marrocco.
The game stayed tied for most of the period, as Hanover got its first power-play with 4:48 left in the middle stanza.
Despite the Indians’ man-advantage, it was the Dragons who had the best scoring opportunities, as senior captain Will Siefert stole the puck in the Hanover end, but was stoned by Marciello on two occasions.
Duxbury was a man short once again a minute after killing off the penalty and they paid dearly, as Hanover scored on one of its three second period shots to take a 2-1 lead into the final 15 minutes.
The third period was less than 30 seconds old when Siefert found himself all alone in front of Marciello once again, aiming for the top corner and watching the Hanover netminder pluck his shot out of the air and preserve his one-goal margin.
It looked like it wasn’t going to be Duxbury’s night, as the Dragons’ shot advantage was proving fruitless and Hanover caught the defense napping with 9:27 remaining, as Hanover came into the zone untouched and fired on goalie Connor Charland, who made the initial save, but was left defenseless and couldn’t recover in time for the rebound.
It was now an uphill battle for the Dragons, as they needed to overcome a 3-1 deficit with less than nine minutes to play.
With 6:20 showing on the clock senior forward Fenton McCall made the task that much easier, as he took a set-up from senior captain Ken Jacobson and picked the far corner to beat Marciello and narrow the gap to 3-2.
Duxbury now had Hanover back on its heels and looked like it was ready to tie the score when Siefert blasted a shot off the goal post that echoed throughout the arena.
Hanover Coach Jon Abban could see the pressure mounting and called a timeout with 2:57 to go, hoping to slow down Duxbury’s momentum and walk away with an upset win.
Dragon Coach John Blake had other ideas as play resumed, but his team needed to get the puck deep into the Hanover end before Blake could pull Charland. Hanover cooperated by icing the puck, drawing a faceoff in the Indians’ end with a minute to go.
Out came Charland and the draw went back to Jacobson who fired on net, forcing Marciello to leave a rebound that Marrocco was quick to jump on and bury with seconds remaining on the clock.
“We’ve been telling these kids they have to come in here and play for a full 45 minutes,” said Blake. “We told them it was going to be a dog fight because we have a bullseye on our back and it’s our first year back in the league. We didn’t play well in the first period, but came back and dominated in the second. We took a bad penalty and got a bad bounce. It was one of those nights where we didn’t think we were going to get any kind of good bounce, and then we got one with a minute to go.”
On Wednesday night the Dragons will have a chance to hit the .500 mark when they take on Scituate at the Hobomock Arena at 7:50 p.m. The Sailors beat the Dragons, 3-2, earlier in the season and also sent junior forward Tucker Hannon to the sidelines with a concussion on a hit that would have banned any NHL player for five games.