While the Tigers had seven players hit the penalty box over the final 30 minutes, their ability to kill off man-advantage opportunities for Mansfield resulted in momentum gained for OA.
“We work a lot on PK in practice and it’s very aggressive,” said first year OA head coach Sean Bertoni. “We emphasize blocked shots so we get into shooting lanes. Hopefully we don’t have to kill too many penalties – we had way too many tonight – but those PK guys worked extremely hard. Right after that 5-on-3 we go out and score a goal so we took some momentum there which was great.”
The 5-on-3 Bertoni referenced was Mansfield’s first power play opportunity that came early in the second period. After a delayed interference call, the Hornets were able to keep the puck and draw a hooking call to get a two man advantage.
Despite having a full 1:30 with the two-man advantage, Mansfield registered just two shots on goal. Oliver Ames capitalized on the momentum gained from the kill, scoring the opener just 30 seconds into being even strength.
Ward, who had a penalty shot saved in the first period by Mansfield goalie Tony Rullo (21 saves), blocked a clearance in the offensive end and went right to goal and tucked the puck in to make it 1-0.
Mansfield nearly tied it a minute later when Matt Farragher had his shot saved by Walsh and the rebound chance was scoffed. The Hornets had a power play with 6:43 left, and then again with 3:00 to play but couldn’t find the back of the net either time.
“It wasn’t ideal – we were 1/6 on the power play and that includes the 5-on-3 for 90 seconds,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini. “That’s not what we want. We moved the puck well on the 5-on-3 but we maybe have two shots. We’ve been focusing more on our penalty kill, which was great tonight, but we just have to get back to basics for offense. The guys know the premise but we were trying to rush it.
“OA did a great job of killing the penalties and keeping us outside. They got in front of the shots or got their sticks in the passing lanes so it was a little frustrating. We lost two face offs clean on the 5 on 3 and two more on 5-on-4 and that just sucks the momentum right away from you.”
The Hornets once again went a man up with 5.3 seconds to play in the second. After a quick save, Mansfield once again won the face off and a quick shot resulted in a rebound right to freshman Ryan Sullivan. He batted the back into the back of the net as the horn sounded and the referee declared it a good goal to tie the game 1-1 through two periods.
Oliver Ames again went down a man just 2:31 into the final period on a high sticking call but the Hornets couldn’t convert. In fact, the Tigers had the best chance on a shorthanded attempt with Bourne streaking in but his back hand attempt sailed high and off the glass.
“I thought defensively we played pretty well,” Bertoni said. “We blocked a lot shots, I don’t think we gave up a lot of shots. They didn’t have a ton of scoring chances and they also missed some opportunities.”
OA was whistled for too many meant with 10:49 to play but Mansfield couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end. With the puck in the defensive zone and the power play over, the Hornets went for a switch but a failed clearance resulted in the puck on the stick of Williams and he took one stride towards goal before unleashing a shot off the iron and in to make it 2-1.
“Our forecheck is pretty effective when our first line is on the puck hard, stick on stick and body on body,” Bertoni said. “Brett Williams, who’s having a good year for us, picked up the puck and buried one which was huge. We’re very effective on the forecheck.
Mansfield killed a late penalty and then pulled Rullo with a minute to go. But OA won a face off in the defensive zone and Bourne raced out with the puck to bury the empty net goal to get to the final score of 3-1.
“I hope the kids get it, that when we’re 5 on 5, we can skate with most teams we play against,” Bertoni said. “We have depth too, we roll three lines. We have to do a better job, there’s no excuses to take that many penalties.”
Oliver Ames (7-3-1 overall, 3-1-1 Hockomock) will try to extend its unbeaten streak to six when it visits Franklin – Bertoni’s alma mater – on Saturday. Mansfield (5-5-1, 2-2) will look to bounce back when they take on King Philip at Foxboro Sports Center the same day.
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