Carlow challenged his squad to work harder, play with structure, and play at the level he knew they were capable of doing — something he believes they failed to do in Monday night’s 6-1 setback in Franklin.
The Warriors answered their coach’s challenge and were rewarded in the form of a 5-4 win over the Panthers.
It marks KP’s first win over Franklin in over 20 years according to research by HockomockSports.com and local high school hockey guru Jim Clark. The last win found by either came in 2000 when the Warriors won 4-3.
“We didn’t play with enough structure and we didn’t play with enough determination in that second half…they outplayed us,” Carlow said of Monday’s game. “I just didn’t think we competed in the first game the way that we can compete. I felt if we competed hard tonight and played with some structure and discipline that we could play with them. Obviously, it was a back and forth game, we had to go on the kill a couple of times. I just thought we outworked them tonight.”
King Philip’s improved work ethic was a direct result in two goals, and its willingness to play to the final buzzer led to another. Despite giving up the first goal of the game, KP took the lead in the second period and never trailed the rest of the way.
Franklin opened the scoring late in the first period with just under five minutes to go. Dylan Marchand took a pass from the defensive end and found Conor O’Neil streaking into the attacking zone. O’Neil latched onto the pass and unleashed a wrist shot just under the bar for a 1-0 lead.
A prolonged trip in the offensive zone from KP’s third line resulted in a face-off and eventually the equalizer before the end of the first. Nolan Jackson passed to his defensive partner Rocco Bianculli, who rifled a shot wide off the end boards. The puck bounced behind the goal and to the other side of the net where senior Paul McDonald buried his bid into the open net.
King Philip struck first in the second period just over five minutes into the frame. Max Robison won a foot race in the defensive zone to gain possession and hit Aidan Boulger in the neutral zone. Boulger lifted a pass forward and the bouncing puck eluded a Franklin defenseman and rested on the stick of a streaking Ian Hilll. Hill deked in front of goal before sliding a backhand shot five-hole for a 2-1 answer.
But similar to how KP had an answer in the first, Franklin had a response in the second. Just two minutes later, the Panthers capitalized on a power play chance. SSean Connelly found Justin Abely entering the attacking zone on the right boards, and Abely patiently waited for O’Neil, who came streaking to the far post. Abely delivered a perfect pass and O’Neil redirected it in past KP sophomore goalie Kyle Abbott (29 saves) to make it 2-2 with 7:24 left in the period.
Just when it looked like the teams would head to the final period knotted at 2-2, King Philip’s hard work was rewarded with a goal that just beat the buzzer. Bianculli linked up with Boulger as he skated out of the defensive zone. Boulger fired a shot wide but Jackson tracked down the loose puck and tossed it right back in front. With a scrum in front, senior Conor Cooke was able to get his stick on it and the puck found the back of the net just as time expired for a 3-2 lead.
Despite a zamboni break, King Philip’s momentum carried into the third period. Freshman Brad Guden hopped onto a loose puck in the neutral zone and found junior Sean Crowther at the blue line. Crowther connected with Shaun Fitzpatrick, who deked between two defensemen and tucked his shot past Franklin senior Jack Paterson (24 saves) into the back of the net for a 4-2 lead just under a minute into the third.
“Those are huge goals for us,” Carlow said of scoring on either side of the second intermission. “Coming off a one-goal performance the other night…it just didn’t look like us the other night. I knew we were better than that. I challenged our guys and hats off to them, they responded. We’re led by an awesome senior group, we have eight of them, and eight juniors so it’s a veteran group. I knew they’d answer and I felt like they outworked them tonight.”
Franklin kept things interesting with a goal five minutes later to cut the deficit to just one. Franklin couldn’t take advantage of a 3-on-2 but the Warriors were unable to clear it. After a brief scramble in front, the puck popped free to senior defenseman Pat Dolan who stepped into a blast, beating a pair of KP players and Abbott to make it 4-3 with 9:18 to play.
“We knew they were going to push at the start of the third,” Carlow said “They are well-coached, they have a lot of talented kids over there, they always do. They got us twice on penalties, we have to do a better job there and limit those mistakes. But just trying to keep them to one goal and get the momentum back, try to answer quickly. I think we answered just about every time, we played three lines almost the entire game. The depth of this program has improved over the past couple of years and to be able to play more guys, that helps a lot against a team like Franklin.”
KP’s hard work was rewarded once again, this time proving to be the game-winning goal. Bianculli cleared a puck off the glass and Boulger turned on the jets, flying down the ice to beat out an icing call and take possession. Franklin nearly cleared it but David Lawler quickly pinched and kept the puck in the attacking zone. Lawler carried the puck behind the net, drawing the attention of three Panthers. He circled back around and found Cooke wide open in front for a one-timer and a 5-3 lead.
“Plain and simple, we got outworked,” said Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. “When you come to the rink and think you don’t have to work so hard because you just beat them 6-1, that’s not going to work. We knew…they are well-coached, disciplined, all it’s going to take is put two guys on the puck and they are going to outwork you. That’s exactly what happened. We lost 50-50 puck battles, we lost foot races to the puck in our own zone…a lot of self-inflicted stuff with turnovers in our own zone. Before you know it, you’re two goals behind and the clock is running out.
“They didn’t lose their composure. They didn’t stop, they didn’t quit and that’s what good teams do. Hopefully, we’re humbled by this and they come back and work harder. We got outworked from start to finish, plain and simple, for all 45 minutes.”
Franklin went back on the power play just moments after KP’s goal and needed just nine seconds to make it a one-goal game again. Declan Lovett won a battle at the blue line, kept possession, and then skated to the middle of the ice before blasting a slap shot through traffic and in to make it 5-4.
Franklin had a pair of faceoffs in the attacking zone in the final minute but KP’s defense prevented the Panthers from getting a good look off on Abbott.
King Philip (3-1-0 Kelley-Rex, 3-1-0 overall) sits in first place with half of its division games played. The Warriors are scheduled to take on Oliver Ames in a pair of non-league crossovers next. Franklin (1-1, 3-1) has a non-league crossover title against North Attleboro on Friday.