Six Minutes the Difference as Marshfield Skates Past Red Raiders
By: Tom Moran Jr.
In the end, it was six bad minutes that did in the Barnstable High boys’ hockey team’s hopes for a state championship.
After taking a 2-0 lead on a goal by defenseman Will Toffey midway through the second period, the Red Raiders became little more than bystanders as Marshfield scored three goals in a span of 5:39 and went on to claim the 3-2 decision in South Sectional semifinal round action at the Gallo Ice Arena last Friday.
The loss sent the Red Raiders into the offseason with a final record of 14-4-4 while the Rams earned a berth in the South Sectional finals with the victory that upped their record to 17-3-5.
“What can I say, this is a very disappointing way to end the season,” said BHS coach Scott Nickerson. “You always want to do better in the tournament than you did the year before. Last season, we were happy to get this far, this year we expected to go farther.”
After taking a 1-0 first-period lead, the Red Raiders really looked to have the Rams right where they wanted them when Toffey turned a steal in front of the Marshfield net into a goal that gave his team the two-goal lead but the Rams answered with a goal just 11 seconds later that was the beginning of the end for the Barnstable squad.
The Rams dominated the action after the opening face-off and it was only some solid play by BHS goaltender Sean Cleary that kept them off the scoreboard as the freshman came up with big stops to deny scoring bids by Marshfield forward Ryan Connor and defenseman Pat Cull.
Connor and Cull tested Cleary again from in close with the same results before the Red Raiders stunned the opposition with the contest’s first goal.
In what was their first extended possession in the Marshfield zone, the Red Raiders grabbed the 1-0 lead when senior captain Zach Wells redirected a Toffey drive from the left point past Rams goalie Tim Milch at the 5:56-mark.
The Rams almost got that goal right back when Marshfield forward Chris Perry broke in alone on Cleary but again the Red Raiders’ goalie came up big, making a spectacular glove save to keep his team’s slim lead intact.
Marshfield kept the pressure on but Cleary was up to the task, making two more great saves in the final minute of the period.
The Rams’ attack went right back into high gear as the second period got underway but their best efforts were again frustrated by Cleary, who turned aside shots by Connor, Brennan Quackenbush, Jon Fraser and Cull.
Those saves became even bigger when Toffey intercepted a crossing pass right in front of the Marshfield crease and snapped the puck past Milch to up the Red Raider lead to 2-0 with 8:56 gone in the period.
The Barnstable fans didn’t get to celebrate for long however as Fraser capped off a great rush down the left wing by ripping a shot past Cleary just :11 after Toffey’s score to cut the BHS lead in half.
The Rams kept the pressure on and it paid off when forward Ty Martina redirected a slap shot from the right point over Cleary’s shoulder for the power-play goal that tied the game at 2-2 with 2:30 left in the period.
The Red Raiders were now hoping to get out of the period with the score still tied but it didn’t work out that way as the Rams took their first lead of the game with just :25 left on a goal by Perry.
The Marshfield winger capped a left wing rush with a slap shot that beat Cleary high to the stick side and sent his team into the second intermission with the 3-2 lead.
The third period saw plenty of end-to-end action but very little in the way of scoring chances as the Rams were content to concentrate their efforts on limiting the number of Red Raider scoring opportunities. After being outshot by a 14-2 margin in the decisive second period, the Red Raiders outshot the Rams by a 6-5 margin in the final period but did not really test Milch’s goaltending skills with any of them.
Cleary went to the bench in favor of an extra skater with 1:30 left to play but the strategy failed to produce the desired results and the Rams were the team that lived to play another day.
(Marshfield went on to defeat Springfield Cathedral 4-1 and will take on Wakefield at the TD Garden on Sunday for the Division 1 state title.)
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