If being within a loss of surrendering a Division I State championship wasn’t enough to motivate Coach John Blake’s team on Monday night in Braintree, then what can the Duxbury coach expect this weekend when his squad plays in the Cape Cod Classic against the likes of Austin Prep and several other Division I powers?

If being within a loss of surrendering a Division I State championship wasn’t enough to motivate Coach John Blake’s team on Monday night in Braintree, then what can the Duxbury coach expect this weekend when his squad plays in the Cape Cod Classic against the likes of Austin Prep and several other Division I powers?{sidebar id=4}

There is no room for error anymore for the Dragons, who have squandered many opportunities this season to reach the .500 mark and qualify for the Division I State Tournament in order to defend their title.

Playing an 8-8 Braintree team did anything but bring out the best in the Dragons, who went about their business with a laissez-faire attitude, as if they were playing a JV squad instead of playing for survival.

Not once in the first period did Duxbury come even remotely close to putting any pressure on Braintree goaltender Robby Campbell, who would later prove very vulnerable when he was severely tested.

At the other end of the ice, netminder Dan Sangster must have been wondering when his teammates would show up and help him out, as they left him unprotected on a number of occasions.

From the five-minute mark on, Sangster kept Duxbury’s play-off hopes alive, as he made several saves, many of which came after sloppy defensive play by the Dragons.{sidebar id=1}

It didn’t take long for Duxbury’s miscues to finally catch up with them, as Braintree tallied five minutes into the middle period for a 1-0 lead.

Duxbury would get back-to-back power-play opportunities midway through the period, but couldn’t capitalize, as they continued to have little luck in getting shots on goal.

Sangster would stop a breakaway by Braintree’s Joe Gaughan with 2:29 to go, and Duxbury countered 36 seconds later with a break-in by senior captain Brad Devereaux, who couldn’t put it past Campbell.

Devereaux would have another chance in the third period, and he didn’t miss this time, tying the game at 1-1 and giving the Dragons some needed momentum.

With the clock ticking down, sophomore Mike Woomer picked up a loose puck in center ice and weaved his way down the left side and over the blue line, cutting to the slot and firing a shot up and over Campbell’s shoulder for a 2-1 Duxbury lead with 2:15 left in the game.

It was now up to the Dragons to play smart and protect Sangster, but things didn’t go as planned.

Matt Hetherington took a bad penalty in the Duxbury end of the ice with 1:43 to go, and 43 seconds later the Wamps pulled their goalie with six skaters on the attack.

With three seconds left on the power-play, and 16 seconds left in the game, Braintree defenseman Shawn Kenney took a shot from the right point that found its way through a screen of players and past Sangster’s right to tie the game at 2-2.

So when things get down and you get handed a lemon, there is only one thing to do: make lemonade out of it.

Grabbing the face-off in center ice, Hetherington gathered the puck and raced down the right side, turning the defenseman and putting a shot on Campbell, who couldn’t contain the rebound and watched as Hetherington poked it past him for the game-winner with seven seconds remaining.

“There wasn’t much emotion, nor was there any sense of urgency out there early in the game,” said Blake. “It was very disappointing. They came out and played better in the second period, and got their feet moving in the third. To their credit they didn’t quit and they kept working at it and finally got a break. Our tournament started today. We have to go 3-0 which could be an insurmountable task, but we’ll go shift to shift and hope we play well down the Cape.”

Now sporting a 6-9-5 record, the Dragons are still on life-support for tournament play, as they need three consecutive wins starting this Saturday in the Cape Cod Classic in Falmouth when they open against Austin Prep at 3:00.