KINGSTON, Mass. - One year. Two games. Two shootouts. Two different outcomes.
On Tuesday afternoon, it was the Duxbury High School hockey team (3-1-1) who came out on top over the Natick Redhawks (2-0-2), by a final score of 2-1. The Dragons did so in the first round of the Island Creek Oyster Cup at The Bog in Kingston.
The shootout began with 11 missed shots -- six from Redhawks and five from the Dragons. The Dragons only had five men on their shootout list and, since their top forwards were unable to put one past Redhawks junior goaltender Mason Bailey, the team opted for a defensive player -- senior captain Hunter Smith -- to give it his best shot.
“It was a pretty great feeling to get the game-winner, especially after last year,” Smith said. “I went with the move I felt most confident with and I’m just glad they picked me.”
“It was surprising,” he added of being picked in the shootout. “But I just had to be confident heading into it, and be confident with my move.”
Unexpected? Sure. Effective? Yes. Evidently, Dragons head coach John Blake made the right decision there.
“We threw some names out there,” Blake said. ”But the senior captain we thought would be the right guy to go out there and do it. He’s got a good shot. He finished right there and that’s huge.”
Last season -- in March -- the Dragons fell, 1-0, to the Redhawks in the Division 1 South quarterfinal via shootout.
“Our guys knew tonight they weren’t just playing for this team,” Blake said. “They were also playing for last year’s team. This game had a little extra meaning for us. We felt it was a revenge game. We thought we carried the play most of the game. On the flip side, we need to finish our chances better than we did today. One goal isn’t going to win you many hockey games.”
This time, the game went into overtime to see who would be be playing in the Oyster Cup final on Thursday against Bridgewater-Raynham. In the MIAA standings, Tuesday’s game counts as a 1-1 tie.
For a while, though, it looked like a potential 1-0 Dragons win. But with under four minutes remaining, Redhawks senior defenseman Kyle Shea would change that, scoring his team’s lone goal of the game. It was an anomaly for Dragons senior goaltender Lee Kennedy, who recorded 16 saves in regulation and overtime (plus six more stops in the shootout).
“He looked confident back there.” Blake said of Kennedy. “He was seeing the puck well all game. When you’ve got a senior who has really improved his game, the guys are excited to play in front of him and they’re confident he’s going to make the saves he needs to make. He was our MVP in that shootout, no question about it.”
Defensively, Blake said his team received strong play from Smith, Matt Campbell (senior), Ben Quinlan (senior), Will LeClerc (junior), Teddy Griffin (sophomore) and Jack Wood (sophomore).