WALPOLE, Mass. – Both times that Mansfield/Oliver Ames and Franklin met in the opening season of Hockomock League girls hockey, the game ended in a stalemate, including the opening game of the year. The two teams opened league play again this season and, when the Warriors tied the game with a power play goal inside the final 90 seconds of Saturday afternoon’s game at Rodman Arena, it looked like another tie was on the cards.
That was until Franklin senior Regan Paterson, who had given away the penalty that MOA had turned into the tying goal, stole a puck on the edge of the attacking zone and skated in alone on the goalie. A head fake, a good deke to the forehand and a drag to the backhand opened up the far post and she slid the puck into the back of the net with just 4.1 seconds on the clock.
Paterson’s goal sealed a 5-4 come from behind win for the Panthers in a game that saw four lead changes and was indicative of how most of the games in the Hockomock League have been played thus far.
“It was a great game,” said Franklin coach Margie Burke. “It seems like it’s always a great game when we play them.”
First-year Mansfield/Oliver Ames coach Roy Bain was obviously disappointed in how things ended but had plenty of positives to take away from the game.
“The only negative was the final score,” he said. “Everyone played their hearts out. We bent a couple times, never gave up, all the way to the last play. They just made one more play than us.”
The Panthers came out of the gates quickly with Paterson nearly opening the scoring within the first minute and then set up Jordan Dwyer in the slot, but both were denied by MOA freshman goalie Jessica Widdop (20 saves). Immediately following the second stop, MOA flew down ice and took the lead. Senior Lindsey Corning drove to the net and scored with the Warriors first shot of the game.
Franklin answered back two minutes later on the power play. Junior Gina Vignone flicked a backhand shot through a crowd in front and it snuck past Widdop to make it 1-1. The Panthers had several chances to grab the lead but Widdop made six saves in the opening period.
Sophomore Libby Carter had one chance stopped and then Paterson combined with classmate Cassi Ronan, who is back on the ice after taking the last two seasons off, behind the net. Ronan shuffled a pass to junior Giana Cameron who fired a shot that was tipped by Amanda Lewandowski right in front only to have Widdop, who is playing goalie for the first time, to get her shoulder onto the shot.
“She played incredible,” said Bain of Widdop. “It’s been a great surprise what we’ve gotten from her. There’s nothing more you can expect from a freshman goaltender. I can’t say enough about the way she played.”
It only took 25 seconds for the Panthers to get the lead in the second period. Ronan forced a good pad save from Widdop and Lewandowski was on hand to tap in the rebound. Emma Pereira brought MOA back level with a blast from the point off a face-off that made its way through bodies in front and found the back of the net.
Franklin started the period strong, but the Warriors grew into the game and started to dominate the action. Freshman Skylar Sharfman had three chances saved by Franklin goalie Gianna Cornetta (eight saves) and Mackenzi Fraser was stopped by Cornetta as well. With only 30 seconds left in the second, freshman Sammy Ledin had her shot partially saved, but the rebound landed on the goal line and Isabelle Shanteler reacted first to tap it in and make it 3-2 heading to the final 15 minutes.
“Win two out of three,” said Burke about the conversation in the Panthers locker room during the second intermission. “We just said to keep working hard and shoot more. They weren’t shooting enough and they weren’t winning the line, losing it at the blue lines, but we really controlled the play in the third.”
The Panthers heeded their coach’s words and dominated the final period. Franklin outshot MOA 10-1 in the third and the puck seemed stuck in the Warriors zone. Widdop made save after save to keep her team in it, but with 9:28 to play Franklin got the tying goal. Carter had her first chance saved but regained the puck on the side of the net, skated out to the circle and then snuck a shot just inside the near post.
Katelyn Brown nearly set up Dwyer for the go-ahead goal only to have Widdop get the tip of her glove to the shot. Ronan ended up creating Franklin’s fourth after picking up the puck behind her own net. She skated the length of the ice and drove to the net. While Widdop stopped the shot but the rebound popped out to Carter and she knocked it into the empty net with 3:11 to play.
“They work very well together and they have similar styles,” said Burke about the play of Ronan and Paterson. “Cassi coming back this year, she can play both sides of the puck, and we can go three ‘D’ and move Cassi up.”
With 1:51 left, MOA got a golden opportunity when Paterson went to the box. Just 23 seconds into the power play, the Warriors had the tying goal. Pereira had another blast from the point and this time it was redirected by Shanteler on the pst and into the top corner.
In past years, Paterson would have been stuck in the box for the rest of the game, but there was a rule change for this season that ends a penalty when a goal is scored. So, she was out there for the final seconds and she turned the game on its head.
“We rode some pressure and come back to score,” said Bain. “It brings the spirits up. It was a great game overall, the defense played great, the forwards skated their butts off, and without our goaltender we wouldn’t have been in the game.”
Burke added, “Two game, two wins, it’s great. We have a game on Wednesday and then we have one more and we go into a little break. It will be really nice to go into it with a little cushion and then the schedule is going to get really tough.”