Maybe they aren’t as good as they think they are, or maybe their opponents are bringing their “A” game every time they play the Dragons. No matter the reason, the Dragons once again faced a formidable opponent and had their work cut out for them last Wednesday night in Duxbury when they edged Billerica, 5-4.
It wasn’t exactly one of Duxbury’s better efforts, as they struggled offensively once again with one of the stronger opponents on the docket.
“Billerica came to play tonight. Hats off to them. They did a great job,” said Duxbury Coach Chris Sweet. “They played with a lot of intensity and a lot of heart. I thought our guys played hard, but I thought they may have been looking ahead too.”
Looking ahead to games with powerhouse Jamesville DeWitt in Syracuse and BC High may have been on their minds, but it didn’t prevent the Dragons from going ahead 2-0 in the first quarter on goals by Paul Hellar and Chris Williams.
Hellar took a nice feed from Seamus Connelly and beat netminder Daniel Smith from 10 yards out with a bouncing shot, while Williams made a highlight film move running down the middle and sliding between two defenders before firing a shot low to the left that eluded Smith.
It looked as if Duxbury would take a 3-0 lead with three minutes left in the quarter, but Connelly’s shot hit the post dead on and went outside the box where Billerica took over and moved up field.
The Dragons would play the rest of the quarter a man down and survived the disadvantage as play moved to the second quarter.
Unable to find its offense for the first 17 minutes, the Indians finally struck gold with seven minutes left in the half when Andrew Cunningham went to his right and fired a shot that beat Henry Buonagurio to cut the margin to 2-1.
Duxbury’s recent penchant for hitting posts continued midway through the second quarter when Andrew Buron rattled his shot off the post, and frustration mounted 10 seconds later when Billerica went man-up on a Dragon penalty.
It took just 21 seconds for the Indians to capitalize when Daniel Trainor came through the crease and jumped up to deposit his shot over Buonagurio’s shoulder to tie the game at 2-2.
The Dragons knew they were in a serious game and picked up the pace, beating Smith two minutes later on an Adam Fitzgerald goal to make it 3-2 at halftime.
With the outcome of the game still up in the air, both teams continued their sloppy play, resulting in a man-up situation for Billerica with 7:07 left in the quarter. It didn’t take the Indians long to take advantage, as Peter Walters took a pass from Cam Slatton and beat Buonagurio from 10 yards out to tie the game at 3-3.
The action became even more ferocious as the clock ticked away, with the visitors realizing an upset was clearly possible, and the Dragons seeing that the Indians weren’t ready to crawl up and go away.
The Dragons seemed to be taking most of the penalty calls all night and with 3:23 left in the third quarter they were hit for a one-minute cross-checking penalty. Barely 20 seconds elapsed when the whistle blew again for another Duxbury penalty and things were looking bleak for the Dragons.
Playing two men down the Dragons would need all the prayers they could get. What they got instead was nearly the equivalent, as Buonagurio made three spectacular saves in a 50-second span with Trainor’s point-blank shot with 1:51 to go being the turning point.
Momentum swung to the Dragons entering the final 12 minutes and they capitalized immediately, as Williams fed Hellar off the face-off to make it 4-3.
The intensity picked up on both sides, as both coaches called strategic timeouts midway through the quarter. With 3:11 left to play Hellar picked up a loose ball after a Smith save and launched a shot through traffic that beat Smith for what proved to be the winning goal.
Nursing a two-goal margin with 1:53 to go, Duxbury took an unnecessary penalty giving the Indians hope for a comeback. It only took 25 seconds for Peters to score his second of the game, as he came out of the corner to Buonagurio’s right and fired into the top far corner to get within winning range.
Henry Narlee continued his outstanding evening of winning face-offs and the Dragons got possession to run out the clock for the victory.
“We have to realize we are not as good as we think we are and everyone else thinks,” said Sweet. “We have to work hard for our wins and we’re starting to realize that. We’ve got a way to go before we become the team everyone thinks we can be.”