Monday, March 6, 2017

Braintree's Offense Soars in Win over Falmouth

By Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports)

BOURNE, Mass. -
There were four points where the game was tied: It could have gone either way.

But, straying away from their defensive-minded ways, the Wamps (13-6-2) out-slugged the Clippers (14-9-2) in a 5-4 Division 1 South quarterfinal win at Gallo Ice Arena Sunday night.

Given the adversity the Clippers faced this season -- with seniors Owen Higgins and James Lavin passing away in a tragic car crash in December 2016 -- Wamps head coach Dave Fasano expressed admiration for his opponents and praised their performance.

“That’s the one team no one wanted to play,” Wamps head coach Dave Fasano said. “They’re a great program with a great coaching staff and a great bunch of kids. Unfortunately, we were the ones to draw them. Credit to their kids and our kids, they both battled hard.”

With about six minutes remaining in the third period and the game tied at four apiece, the Wamps won a faceoff in Clippers territory. Senior forward Sean McGuire put a strong shot on net for the Wamps, but it got deflected. His linemate and classmate, Ryan Coady, buried it on a second chance scoring opportunity, giving the Wamps a 5-4 lead.

It was just the fourth time all season that the Wamps allowed four goals, and it was the only time they came out on the winning side. In 21 games thus far, they have only allowed 36 goals.

Early, it appeared the Wamps might skate to an easy win, going up 2-0 in the first period, but that was not the case.

Sure, junior forward Shawn Leslie netted a goal in the first minute of the game (assisted by senior defenseman Kevin O’Brien and freshman defenseman Kyle Roche) and their team forechecked well, but it did not lead to complete dominance.

Ten minutes after that first score, senior defenseman Nick Sage netted another goal; McGuire and Coady got the assists.

After 25 minutes of play, the Wamps' 2-0 lead got cut in half, in part due to their own aggression.

Thanks to a roughing penalty, the Clippers found themselves on a power play -- and they took advantage. With a scrum of players favoring the left side in front of the net, senior defenseman Aidan Sylvia pushed the puck in from the right side of the net for a score. Senior forward Cooper Rogers earned the assist.

Two minutes into the third period, the Clippers found themselves on another power play. Once, again, they capitalized.

Sitting near the right side of the net, freshman forward Nick Champani was in ideal position for a shot. A strong horizontal pass from senior forward Matt Schreiner helped Champani bury the game-tying goal, making it a 2-2 game. A scoring flurry ensued.

Including Champani’s goal, there were five goals in a four minute span, and the game was tied back up thrice.

Wamps junior forward Dara Canavan gave his team the lead back 1:09 later. The Clippers goaltender dove left to stop a puck, which deflected off him and an opening on the right side, which is where Canavan took his shot which was assisted by senior defenseman Colin Guilbault and Leslie.

Fast forward two minutes and the Clippers briefly tied it up once again on senior forward Jacob Miller’s goal assisted by senior defenseman Cam Tobey and Rogers. That tie lasted for 18 seconds.

Winning the next faceoff, the Wamps used their speed, creating a strong rush and a scoring opportunity for Coady. He took advantage, giving his team a 4-3 lead off a McGuire pass.

That lead lasted for 30 seconds as the Clippers reset the score on an odd-man rush. Senior forward Patrick Coyne netted his team’s fourth goal of the game thanks to the 2-on-1 chance and a quick pass from Schreiner.

While the Clippers did not come out on top, head coach Paul Moore said he could not be any prouder of his players for the way they battled through adversity.

“It’s so much more about hockey and the life lessons you learn,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll find a tougher challenge than what they went through this year. We went through it with them. We guided them through and they stayed strong.”

The Wamps will face No. 2 Wellesley this Thursday, Mar. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Division 1 South semifinals at Gallo Ice Arena.

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