The Franklin girls hockey team suffered its first setback of the season over the weekend at the hands of highly touted Walpole, but the Panthers had no interest in letting that trend continue.
Behind a stellar defensive performance, Franklin got back into the win column as it began its second trip through league play with a 4-1 decision over visiting Mansfield/Oliver Ames.
The Panthers pounced for a 1-0 lead after the first period before tacking on two more in the second period to earn the win. Franklin limited the Warriors to just 15 shots on goal for the game.
“I thought we were good tonight, the first two periods I thought we played very well,” said Franklin head coach Margie Burke. “We got a little lax in the third, which we won’t be able to do when we get to the tournament, but overall I thought we played pretty well. Walpole is a good team, [the loss] was going to happen eventually but we responded.”
Mansfield/Oliver Ames came out with a lot of energy and had some early attacking zone time, but Franklin’s defense was up to the task and thwarted any Warrior attacks before they could turn into scoring chances.
The teams traded offensive spells, and there was a good pace to the game as the teams went back-and-forth up and down the ice. It wasn’t until late in the period that Franklin was able to grab the lead.
Senior Regan Paterson eluded a defenseman before tossing a shot on net that was turned aside by Warrior goalie Jess Widdop with a pad save. But the rebound popped right to Cassi Ronan and she lifted her backhand attempt under the bar and into the back of the net for a 1-0 advantage.
Paterson was awarded an assist on the play, giving her 100 career points.
That momentum seemed to carry into the second period, a frame in which the Panthers had the majority of control over. Franklin earned an early power play on a roughing call and didn’t need much time to capitalize. Off the ensuing faceoff, Paterson battled her way between two MOA defenders and then whipped a low shot on net that found the back of the goal for a 2-0 lead, just seven seconds into the man-advantage.
The Warriors made a push in the middle of the period with the best chance falling on the stick of freshman Skyler Sharfman, who ripped a hard slap shot but it was blocked by Franklin junior Gina Vignone and cleared out.
Franklin added to its lead with just over a minute left in the second period. Ronan jumped in front of an MOA forward to keep possession in the attacking zone, raced in along the boards and then blasted a shot upstairs for a 3-0 lead.
The third period belonged to the visitors, who had a lot of offensive zone time. While Mansfield/Oliver Ames had a lot of time in the attacking zone, it couldn’t register a ton of scoring games to go with it. Franklin’s defense did a nice job of preventing dangerous looks on goal.
“The defense has been solid all year long. All three of them played really well and didn’t give them many chances. We have Cassi listed as a defenseman too but it’s mostly Gina, Gianna [Cameron], Tina [Pisano], and Maddi [Dolan] got some shifts too, she’s young but we’ll get her in there.”
The Warriors finally got on the board with just over nine minutes left in the game. Freshman Sammy Ledin took advantage of a turnover at the blue line and raced in and fired a shot on goal. The first shot was turned aside by Gabby Colace but junior Alex Ledin was in perfect position to bury the rebound.
“We were limited from the good scoring areas of the ice, they kept us to the outsides,” said MOA head coach Roy Bain. “We were able to gain penetration just weren’t able to finish. In the third, the girls were tired of not executing, they really carried the bulk of the play and had a lot of zone time, they skated their butts off. They got a good result out of it but just ran out of time.”
Franklin junior Jordan Dwyer intercepted a pass and scored an empty net goal with just over a minute left to make it 4-1.
Franklin girls hockey (5-0-0 Hockomock, 13-1-1 overall) can clinch its first Hockomock League title with a win over Canton on Saturday. Mansfield/Oliver Ames (2-2-1, 5-5-3) will look to bounce back when it hosts Stoughton at 4:10 on Saturday.
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