It may not have ended the way they had hoped, but the Sandwich boys’ hockey team is still alive for postseason play with two games left in the regular season.
Hosting Nantucket on Wednesday, February 12, at Gallo Ice Arena, the Knights held a 2-1 lead until the Whalers tied the game late in the third period and salvaged a 2-2 tie to leave with a much-needed point.
“It’s tough to give up that late one, but we got our one point and we’re still alive,” Sandwich head coach Jordan Mohre said. “Going into the Hayes Tournament now, it couldn’t be a better way to write our story to win that and get our four points.”
Entering the game, Sandwich had to earn five points in three games to qualify for the Division 2 South Sectional tournament for the second straight year. The Knights had a decent opportunity with roughly 20 seconds left in the game to get off a potential game-winning goal. With a face-off in their own offensive zone, Mohre called timeout to strategize how the final moments would unfold.
With a point already in hand, Mohre opted to leave goaltender Carson Schemenaur in net instead of going for the extra skater in the disastrous event Nantucket won the face-off and ended the game on an empty net game-winner.
“I don’t think we would’ve pulled Carson there because we already had at least a point then,” Mohre said. “And the game wasn’t over yet. We were going over our coverages whether we won the face-off or not. There was still a good amount of time left.”
The two teams played to 1-1 tie after the first period of play, with Rob Cardillo scoring for Sandwich to open the game before Alex Gibson tied things up with 15 seconds left before the first intermission.
But the Knights would get some payback in the second period. They had a number of quality looks that frame, but were denied by the Whalers’ goaltender. Then, sophomore Drew MacKinnon got the puck in his own offensive zone and buried the eventual game-winning goal that crossed the goal line moments before the horn sounded.
The goal was assisted by senior Zac Hawkins while Sandwich was on the penalty kill.
“On the penalty kill, with time winding down, that’s a huge credit to Drew to stay in the gap and play tough on the blue line,” Mohre said. “I think the tendency for players is to step back and step off the blue line. If he’s a step late, the puck’s out of the zone and it doesn’t matter. But he was there and, not only that, he let off an absolute rip. That was a huge momentum builder heading into the locker room, for sure.”
With 2:50 left in the third period, Nantucket’s Marsh Hickman knotted the game at two apiece on a well-timed wrist shot. The game ended with a 2-2 deadlock despite Nantucket out-shooting the hosts, 28-19, for the game. The Whalers got off 13 shots to Sandwich’s eight in the first, attempted six to the Knights’ eight in the second, and put forth nine more to SHS’s three in the third.
“We’re playing playoff hockey,” Mohre said. “This game had a playoff feel to it, especially as the game went on.”
Sandwich (7-9-2) opens the ninth annual Jeff Hayes Memorial Tournament on Monday, February 17, at 6:30 PM against North Reading. Last season, the Knights beat Lowell Catholic in a shootout to win their host tournament.