All of the momentum seemed to be with the Warriors.
Then the Indians used their patented quick breakout, and with four Warriors caught up in the offensive zone, Hanover had a 2-on-1 shorthanded breakaway.
Senior Ethan Davis drew the defenseman before delivering a perfectly weighted pass, finding Manning Morris all alone in front and the Hanover junior buried his bid with less than five minutes to go and the third-seeded Indians skated to a 2-1 win over #7 Foxboro in D3 South Semifinal action.
“We were right there though, we were so close getting to the next level,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “I told the guys coming back to use this as motivation. I wouldn’t be surprised if [Hanover] goes all the way which shows how close we were.”
Hanover took the lead with a goal late in the second period but the Warriors spent the third period working hard, creating chances in search of an equalizer.
As the clock ticked past the midway point of the third, it looked like Foxboro’s best chance had come and gone as senior Ronnie MacLellan drew the attention of a pair of defensemen, allowing junior Kirk Leach to latch onto the puck and fire a shot from in close only for Hanover goalie Matt Rowe to make his best stop of the game.
But Foxboro, who was making its first appearance in a sectional semifinal, didn’t dwell and the pressure continued. Another rush was knocked aside but only as far as sophomore defenseman Eoin Reager, who had pinched down into the play. He took his time gaining possession before sniping a shot into the top corner from the left circle, knotting the score at 1-1 with 5:48 to play.
“Eoin’s vision and hands are phenomenal, he just sees the ice so well and knows how to anticipate,” Cedorchuk said. “He ripped off a great shot.”
Less than a minute later, sophomore Matt Grace was brought down as he entered the offensive zone and just like that, Foxboro was staring at a 5-on-4 opportunity for the next two minutes. But it was the Indians, using the shorthanded breakaway, that found the back of the goal next.
“They transition pretty quick, our defense caught got in too low and it created an odd-man rush and that was the difference.
“But I’m just really proud of these guys, this is the most successful season we’ve had. This senior class, the character they have is fantastic, they helped lay down the foundation of where we are at today. We’ve never gone this far, and we know we can go further but it didn’t work out today. They’ve given everything we’ve asked. Espen Reager is a big reason we’re here too, he’s going to be missed.”
Espen Reager and the Foxboro defense was a big reason that the team had an opportunity to tie the game in the third period. He turned away 11 shots in the opening frame and had 13 more saves in the second period.
And in the third, Reager did his best to make sure it stayed a one-goal deficit. Just two minutes into the frame, Morris intercepted a pass and was wide open in the slot in front of goalie but was denied by Reager’s pad stop.
And the Warriors defense did its part too. The Indians had a 2-on-1 chance with 11 minutes to go but freshman Alex Coviello made a decisive sweep of his stick and prevented a shot on goal.
Foxboro still had 1:45 of its power play left after going down 2-1 and came close to tying the game again. Eoin Reager connected with classmate Jack Watts but the redirection was just wide. Senior defenseman Kyle McGinnis rifled a shot from the blue line that Rowe turned aside.
And on a one-timer off the stick of Leach clanked off the post and stayed out.
“They did a good job on the blue line,” Cedorchuk said. “We wanted to get the pucks in deeper. We were creating offense once we got it in and we got some pucks to the net but that bounce or the shot we needed didn’t happen for us.”
After an even scoreless first period, Hanover cashed in with 3:27 to go in the second period. After being denied by Reager and the Foxboro defense on a handful of bids before, the Warriors had some bad luck as a clearance attempt up the boards appeared to hit the ref and stay in.
Hanover was first to the puck and whipped it across ice to Morris, who was all alone in the left circle. He centered the puck back to Nate Delprete, who was streaking towards goal, and his redirect found the back of the net.
Foxboro had a couple of good looks through the first two periods but couldn’t get the puck across the line. Sebastian Ricketts won a battle down low and found Brady Daky in front for a one-timer that was saved early in the first period. And Watts had a pair of chances during a late power play chance but Rowe was up to the task.
And to start the second, Foxboro broke into the attacking zone with a 2-on-1 as Watts found the stick of Leach, but his bid on net was just wide.
Foxboro boys hockey finishes its best season in program history at 12-5-5.