- Written by Dave Palana
- Published: 05 February 2014
The Duxbury boys hockey team didn’t earn any style points against the Whitman-Hanson Panthers at The Bog on Saturday, but they achieved their primary goal for the season with plenty of time to prepare for the MIAA tournament.
The Dragons shut out the Panthers 3-0 for their tenth win of the season, and clinched both their second consecutive Patriot League championship and a spot in the MIAA tournament in the process.
“[Winning the league] is a goal that we set every year,” head coach John Blake said. “These guys accomplished it early and at our home rink, which is nice.”Matt Saia gave the Dragons the lead less than two minutes into the game, but ice proved troublesome for Duxbury throughout the first period. The Dragons controlled play for the majority of the period, but had trouble connecting on their passes and possessing the puck with play confined largely to neutral zone as a result.
“The puck was bouncing every which way today,” Blake said. “The kids didn’t like the way the ice was, they said it was a little beat up. But we needed to simplify things. When the ice isn’t great, you don’t make the extra pass, you try to just get it to the net.”
Goalie Tucker Kelly had to stop a breakaway bid by Panther forward Cam Allen in the final 10 seconds of the first period, but didn’t have much to do after that as the Dragons held Whitman-Hanson without a shot for the first 9 minutes and 15 seconds of the second period. The Dragons peppered Panther goalie Mike Bonavita with 18 shots on the other end of the ice to no avail. Duxbury’s offensive barrage ground to a halt with five minutes left in the period when defenseman Shawn Errasti and forward Mike Doyle were sent to the box, giving the Panthers a five-on-three advantage for more than a minute.
The combination of Shayne and Trevor O’Brien, Tyler Powers, Max Goldner and Buddy Mrowka killed both penalties while holding the Panthers to a lone shot that was gloved down by Kelly. However Duxbury could not regain its momentum as Jack Griffin was sent to the penalty box for crosschecking minutes later.
“I thought we were a little bit undisciplined tonight,” Blake said. “We took some bad penalties, which was one of the reasons Whitman-Hanson was able to stay in that game.”
Duxbury finished the period with a strong shift that produced three shots in the final minute and carried their momentum with them into the third period. A quick pass from Mrowka inside his own blue line sprung a break on goal by Kevin Corcoran, and while Bonavita was able to make the initial save, Nick Marrocco pinged the rebound off the post and into the net with eight minutes to play. Five minutes later, Trevor O’Brien cleaned up another rebound to put the nail in the coffin for the Panthers, though both goals seemed superfluous with the Dragons holding Whitman-Hanson to only three shots in the final 15 minutes.
“I thought that, especially in the third period, that’s the way we need to play all the time,” Blake said. “We had a couple of clean passes and unselfish plays so the guys could move the puck. That’s what we’re looking for on a shift by shift by shift basis.”
With the league banner now in hand, the Dragons can shift their attention to preparing to make a deep run in the postseason. The team will have some strong indicators of their postseason readiness in the coming weeks including a dangerous Braintree Wamps team on the road this week as well as Arlington Catholic and Falmouth in the Cape Cod Classic over the February break.