Sophomore Daren McDonald was moved up to the top line for the Falmouth High School boys’ ice hockey team before the Clippers took on Shrewsbury High on Tuesday, December 31, as head coach Paul Moore looked to shake things up after back-to-back losses.
The youngster was almost the hero for the Clippers with 9:40 left to play in the game, but his shot from the doorstep was the victim of one of the best saves any goalie will make all year, as Matt Sande contorted himself wildly to rob McDonald.
McDonald got a second chance to save the day for the Clippers a little later in the tied 2-2 contest, and this time he won the battle with Sande, potting the game-winner for FHS at 11:55 of the third period to give the Clippers a much-needed 3-2 victory. The team improved to 5-2 overall to start the season with the win and ended a two-game slide.
“We needed that one. After the way we played over the weekend, we had to bounce back,” Moore said. “Daren played great. He gave us a spark, a shot of energy, that we needed.”
McDonald’s game-winner was of the shorthanded variety, and came in large part because he put himself in the right place at the right time. FHS had played a penalty-less game until Max McDonald was called for a questionable interference penalty with 3:31 remaining.
When killing penalties, FHS prefers to play aggressively and forecheck hard at the opposing blue line, making zone entries more difficult. The main goal of that style is to make traversing into the offensive zone difficult, and to force the other team to make smart and efficient passes.
McDonald forced a poor and ill-timed pass, one that he intercepted and took right to the net. Sande came out to try to take away the angle, but the FHS sophomore deked by him and put the puck in the net to put the Clippers back ahead for the third time in the game.
FHS struck first on Nick Champani’s first of two goals in the game at the 10:22 mark of the first, with a dangle by Sande to break the ice. With the game knotted at 1-1 in the second period, Champani was the recipient of a great pass off the boards from Eric Wainwright that he snapped to the far post for a 2-1 lead.
Shrewsbury scored a pair of second-period goals on breakaways, both of which tied the score. Sam O’Connor tied the score for the Colonials with a break up the right side at the 2:55 mark of the middle frame, making it 1-1. He beat North Wilson with a pretty shot to the high glove side to knot things up.
SHS got another on the break late in the second period, at 12:54, with a bit of a lucky bounce that led to the streaking Connor Lynch putting away the tying score. With a draw to the right of Matt Sande, the puck came off left winger Jake McKenzie’s stick in the direction of defenseman Tommy Peterson, on the left point. The puck bounced over Peterson’s blade and Lynch sped by the defenseman and took off the other way, deking past Wilson to tie things up.
Wilson gave a strong effort overall in the game. He stopped 21 of 23 shots that he faced, including a brilliant pad save to keep the game tied midway through the third period.
After a strong non-league slate to open the year the Clippers open Cape and Islands League play Saturday, January 4, with a home game against Nauset High School at 5 PM. The team will then have a break before heading to Warrior Arena in Boston on Saturday, January 11, to play Catholic Memorial.