Monday, May 15, 2017

Ritchie's Game-Winner Lifts St. John's (Shrewsbury) Past Franklin in 2OT

By Ryan Bowman (@_ryanbowman_)

SHREWSBURY - Dawson Ritchie scored the game-winner in a thrilling 12-11 double overtime victory for St. John's (Shrewsbury) over rival Franklin. The win boosted St John's record to 12-2 and added another major win to the Pioneers' resume, and dropped Franklin, the Hockomock Kelley-Rex champions, to 11-3 overall.

This was one of the most anticipated games of the season for both teams, and the game lived up to the hype. St. John's opened up the scoring with two goals early in the first quarter, before Franklin responded with a man-up goal. The game really opened up in the second quarter, which was plagued by Pioneer penalties and Franklin converting on the man-up opportunities.

St. John's attackmen Drew Kozub (4 goals) and Jack Donauhe (3 goals) added to the scoring in the first half. Franklin's Eric Civetti (7 goals) scored three of the last four goals in the first half to tie up the game at 6 a piece. Both teams were trying to get enough momentum to break off on a run, but the half interrupted Franklin's momentum had going.

Still, the Panthers scored the first goal of the second half to take their first lead of the day, before two St. John's goals brought the lead to 8-7. Drew Kozub and Saint John's continued their run into the fourth quarter and Franklin found itself down 11-7.

Two quick goals in two minutes from Eric Civetti brought the lead down to two, and the momentum was swinging in Franklin's favor. A St. John's offsides gave Franklin the man-up, and the Panthers converted, bringing the game within one with 90 seconds left in the game.

St. John's won the face-off, but some tough Franklin defense forced a turnover and Franklin found itself with the ball and 50 seconds left. Franklin's Jake Davis (1 goal) took the ball from behind the net, dodged, and tied up the game with 7 seconds left. A scrum coming out of the face-off ran out the rest of the clock and the game was headed for overtime tied 11-11.

Franklin had scored the last five goals, and the Panthers certainly had the momentum going into overtime. After the Panthers won the face-off, the game seemed all but over. A few missed shots and some tough defense from Sam Correnti of St. John's, plus a point-blank save by Matt Mongeau gave SJ the ball back with a minute left. An ineffective possession from the SJ offense ended with a loose ball scrum and the final seconds of overtime winding down.

The second overtime opened with Franklin winning the face-off again and calling timeout to set up a play. More tough defense by St. John's forced a turnover, and Dawson Ritchie brought the ball down the field after a restart. He threw a dodge on the defender, attacked the net and his overhand shot found the back of the net.

For Franklin, this was certainly a game that it will feel it should have won. The Panthers had multiple possessions in overtime that ended in turnovers, but credit must be given to the stingy St. John's defense. Senior Sam Correnti was especially strong in both overtimes, and the SJ defense was tough all game, despite letting up 11 goals.

The win certainly proves that St. John's has a chance to grab number one spot in Division 2 Central/West (a win against Longmeadow Wednesday would certainly help their case), and that the Pioneers are rounding into playoff form.

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