Marshfield High School may be firmly planted in the driver’s seat as they chase after another Atlantic Coast League championship, but the Falmouth High School boys’ ice hockey team is not about to concede anything just yet. The Clippers had two things in mind on Wednesday night when they took the ice at the Armstrong Arena against Plymouth South, avenging an earlier loss, and closing in on the Rams of Marshfield. They did both of those things, scoring a 7-4 win on the road as both Arlin Moore and Robbie Souza netted hat tricks for FHS. South had won the previous meeting between the clubs in Falmouth earlier this month, taking a 3-0 win that night.
FHS is now 9-4-1 overall on the season and is alone in second place in the ACL at 6-2 in the league. The Clippers, who have won four in a row since getting beaten by Marshfield on the road, welcome the first-place Rams (10-4, 9-0 ACL) to town tomorrow night.
For Falmouth to get a piece of the first-place pie in the ACL, they need to win tomorrow and hope for some help from another league foe. Coach Paul Moore said that stranger things have happened and that his team plans on playing tomorrow’s game with plenty of focus and desire.
“I think that we were ready to play. We were on the other end of that, against them in our own building. We preached all week that this was a defining moment in their season, and [asked] were they going to step up and take it,” coach Moore said. “This league’s not over yet, by any stretch. We’re focusing on qualifying for the tournament right now, but we’re letting them know that the league’s not over, and that’s what we focused on and the kids responded.”
How the Clippers responded was by playing their best opening period of the season and jumping all over the Panthers right out of the gate. Falmouth netted a 3-0 lead after one frame and built their lead to 5-0 by the middle of the third. South rallied back to make a game of it, twice cutting the Clippers’ lead to two goals in the third, but FHS held on to score a pivotal win that brings them closer to earning a guaranteed spot in the MIAA state tournament. The Clippers need three more points, with eight games to play, to earn a berth.
Moore, a junior, got the scoring started for FHS by popping one by South goaltender Dylan O’Connell early in the first period, to start his biggest night in an FHS uniform. Then, at 8:29, Cody Bailey smoked a slap shot through the five-hole to make it a 2-0 game. On the first line’s next shift, Bailey chased a puck into the right wing corner and centered it for Souza, who was camped on the edge of the left wing circle. Souza took the pass while facing toward the blue line and spun around to the net, skimming one by O’Connell to the far post at 10:45 to make it a 3-0 game.
The game remained squarely in Falmouth’s favor early in the second period. Just 3:02 into the middle frame, Moore one-timed a feed from the left wing corner to make it 4-0. Then, at 5:44, Souza collected his second of the game when he deposited a rebound by O’Connell. Zack Barrett took the initial shot, which beat the keeper, but hit off the glove-side post. Souza snapped it back toward the net to give his team a five-goal lead.
To their credit, the Panthers did not fold. South scored a pair of goals over a span of just 27 seconds late in the second period to make it a hockey game. Ryan Small got the first of the night for the Panthers as the puck found him alone in the slot and he wristed it past Jake Beaton (26 saves). Shortly after that, Kevin Cowden scored on a break-in, beating Beaton to the stick side with a wrister.
South closed to within 5-3 at 4:55 of the third on a shot that was deflected in front. Souza got that one back for the Clippers, though, scoring his 19th of the season on a power play to complete his hat trick with a laser to the top shelf on the far side. Currently Souza is tied for the fourth-most goals in the state.
With FHS shorthanded late in the game, South coach Mike McCosh gambled and pulled his goalie for an extra attacker with 3:25 left to play. The gamble worked out as the Panthers got a goal out of a skirmish to make it 6-4 with 2:59 left to play.
South again pulled the keeper with 2:05 left in the game and was able to get some good pressure going, but Beaton made a couple of nice saves. Twice during that time Panthers’ defenseman Joey Good gave up his body to prevent empty-net goals by the Clippers, robbing both Souza and Tom Tobey. He couldn’t do it a third time, though. With time waning, Souza and Moore skated the puck out together and Moore put home the empty-netter to finish off his hat trick, scoring his seventh goal of the season in the process.
“These guys responded so well. This was a big game for us, a four-point swing in the standings,” Moore said.
Moore was very happy with his defensemen in the game. The foursome of Tom and Cam Tobey, Marc Rocheleau and Andrew Parkinson all were strong in the contest. “Our back end’s playing great. Marc Rocheleau is playing tremendous. There’s a lot of positive energy back there, and guys are feeding off of it and feeding off of each other and there’s a lot of confidence right now…our D is getting better every day and our goaltending is solid.”