CANTON, Mass. – The first four minutes of the game, Medfield was on the front foot, pushing the Bulldogs back onto their heels, and forcing an early save from goalie Joe Cammarata. It looked like it was going to be tough fight between two teams that have built a big rivalry since the Warriors moved up to Division 2.
Instead, a penalty against the Warriors gave Canton momentum and two goals inside 90 seconds of each other sparked a comfortable 6-2 victory for the Bulldogs in Saturday afternoon’s Div. 2 South quarterfinal at the Canton Ice House.
“The start of this game was a continuation of the last time we played them,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “I’m proud of our guys for fighting through it and making plays. In the first period, we made some really good plays in the neutral zone when they were being aggressive to spring some guys.”
While most of the attention coming into the playoffs will rightly be on Canton’s top scorers Johnny Hagan and Chris Lavoie, it was the depth of the Bulldogs that helped them to a state title last winter and looks to be the team’s strength again this year.
On Saturday, Lavoie got on the board once, but Timmy Kelleher and Tommy Vaughan each scored twice and Tommy Ghostlaw added one as well. The balanced scoring proved to be too much for the Warriors to contain.
“You need some secondary scoring in the playoffs and Timmy Kelleher, his best game of the season,” said Shuman. “I’m really happy for him. He’s been grinding out, fighting through some bad puck luck and he deserved that game tonight. He was arguably our best player on the ice.”
Kelleher provided the crucial opening goal. On the power play, he broke down the left wing and cut towards the net. With a Medfield player chasing back, Kelleher lost control temporarily but was able to recollect the puck and lift a backhand over the glove hand of Medfield goalie Camron Giunta.
Just a little more than a minute later and the lead was doubled. It was Lavoie this time racing down the left wing. He angled in towards the face-off dot and ripped a wristshot just under the bar.
The eventual game-winner came four minutes later on a second power play. Ronan O’Mahony, who only seconds before had nearly set up Shane Marshall for a score, had a shot from the point saved. Ghostlaw had the first crack at the rebound and the puck trickled through the goalie and the crease to Kelleher for a tip in at the back post.
After being outshot 14-5 in the first, Medfield came flying out of the locker room and very nearly got on the board. Liam Ladd got a breakaway 30 seconds into the second period, but he was unable to put a shot on target, as the puck slid off the blade of his stick.
The miss proved to be important. Less than a minute later, Marshall got behind the Medfield defense and although his shot missed the net the Bulldogs kept the puck in the zone and worked it back to Ghostlaw for the finish.
Lavoie connected with Hagan right on the edge of the crease but Medfield back-up goalie Bruce Salisbury was able to stay tall and block the shot. The Warriors nearly got a freebie on the other end when Hagan lost the puck to Phil Parker, but the forward failed to work Cammarata (12 saves).
With 4:33 left in the second, Canton got a fifth. Freshman Vincent Sica sent a pass across the zone to sophomore Sean Connolly, who lined up a slap shot that forced Salisbury to make a pad stop. The rebound fell to Vaughan and he buried the chance.
Medfield cut the lead to 5-1 with 2:47 left. Aidan Parker’s slap shot through a crowd just missed the bar on its way into the back of the net. The Warriors had a little momentum and Salisbury added to it with a diving stick save on a Marshall breakaway.
Canton ended any hopes of a comeback with 25.3 on the clock. While lying on the ice, Vaughan managed to fling the puck towards the net from a tight angle and took everyone by surprise as the puck went across the line.
Cammarata came through with a big save early in the third on a shorthanded breakaway by Mike Tyer and Canton continued to create chances despite bing up by five. Lavoie smacked the bar and the post and his set up of Eamon Kelly right in front was denied by Medfield’s third goalie, Garrison Schilling. Mike Vachon got a consolation goal for the Warriors in the final minute.
“Every game is a new game and this time of the year it’s more based on who’s playing well that game,” Shuman said. “You just hope that the next game is your best game.”
Canton (19-1-3) will play No. 4 seed Whitman-Hanson in the D2 South semifinal on Tuesday night at Gallo.
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