Canton Comeback Comes Up Short in Quarterfinal

Canton boys lacrosse
Brendan Clifford (8) celebrates a fourth quarter goal by the Bulldogs, who battled back from seven goals down to get back within one before Plymouth South put the game away. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Midway through the third quarter of Wednesday evening’s Div. 2 South quarterfinal at WWII Memorial Field, Canton was stuck in neutral. The Bulldogs were struggling to get and keep hold of the ball and trailed by seven against Plymouth South. After scoring only one goal in more than 30 minutes of game action, it felt like summer was about to begin for the hosts.

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Goals can change games and the Bulldogs started clawing their way back. Four goals in the final 4:08 of the third, including two in the final 17 seconds, got Canton close and two more on a man-up to start the fourth made it a one-goal game with nine minutes left.

Unfortunately, putting together a comeback like that can wear a team out and the Bulldogs simply ran out of gas down the stretch, as the Panthers grabbed momentum back and closed out an 11-8 victory to reach the sectional semifinal.

“We have a good team and a lot of character,” Canton coach Bill Bendell said, “so I wasn’t surprised that we came back, but it’s still hard to do.”

Canton (12-8) fell behind early in the game, as the Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening two minutes. The Bulldogs cut the lead in half with 3:18 left in the quarter, catching the visitors in transition. Brendan Albert galloped forward after a turnover and he picked out Tommy Vaughan or a quick-release rip to make it 2-1.

The Bulldogs were struggling to break down the Plymouth South defense and get near the cage, settling for a number of outside shots that Panthers goalie Paul Hasenfus was able to corral.

In the second quarter, Plymouth South took control of the ball and the game. Canton struggled at the face-off ‘X’ and struggled to contain sophomore attacker Matt Smith, who scored twice and assisted on another in the second. When the Bulldogs did get a rare possession, they looked rushed and either took the first shot they got or rushed passes that led to turnovers.

“When we got the ball, we had players that wanted to go right to the cage and we actually need to give those guys a break on defense, so let’s possess,” Bendell explained. “That’s hard, especially in the emotions of the game.”

He added, “They jumped on us right away. They made some good plays early and their face-off kid was a beast. We couldn’t win a face-off early and we tried a lot of different things.”

Plymouth South scored five times in the quarter and it seemed like the pressure was unrelenting. That continued in the third, as the visitors kept the ball for long stretches and then added another goal with a little under six minutes to play in the quarter as Smith connected with Matt Daley.

It looked like the game was lost for Canton, but then a mistake by the Panthers at the back allowed the hosts to get one back. Griffin Roach was in the right place to take advantage of a loose ball right on the edge of the crease and he put it away. Three minutes later, Roach beat his marker with a spin to his right hand and fired a bullet into the top corner to make it 8-3.

The visitors were still comfortably ahead until a flurry at the end of the third. Dan Cohen picked the far corner on the run to the right, shooting across his body, to make it a four-goal game with 17 seconds on the clock. The Bulldogs got a rare possession on the face-off, as Nick Mackay scooped a ground ball and started a lightning-quick break, with the ball flowing through Andrew Canto to Vaughan for a goal just before the buzzer.

“I thought Dan Cohen’s goal was big,” said Belndell when asked about moments that sparked his team’s comeback. “That was a senior making a play, which was awesome.”

In the last second of the third, Plymouth South was hit with a three-minute, locked-in penalty. Canton came out for the fourth patiently working the ball around, but it was after a Panthers steal that the Bulldogs got a goal. A poor pass over the head of the goalie was picked off by Vaughan and he finished into the empty net.

Thirty seconds later, David Allen swung the pass around to Canto on the left side and he went five-hole from an acute angle to get the Bulldogs within one with 9:32 on the clock.

Although the Bulldogs scored twice with the man-up, Bendell admitted that they may have not taken full advantage of the opportunity. “You can’t say we didn’t capitalize, because we did,” he said, “but it would’ve been nice to just add on.”

After winning the face-off, the Panthers used up a couple of minutes before Smith got back on the score sheet whipping a shot into the corner while being hit. Three minutes later, Daley added another to get the visitors back up by three. Roach opened up space for another Vaughan rocket to make it 10-8, but the Panthers sealed the win with 1:55 left.

“A man-up early, we had the right plan but we weren’t all on the same page,” said Bendell about the things that put the Bulldogs in the hole that they nearly climbed out of. “They shut down Tommy, which is something we talked about and practiced but didn’t execute and those type of little things ended up hurting us late.”

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Dogs Drop Heartbreaker After Improbable Comeback

Canton boys hockey
Canton senior Jack Goyetch fires a shot in the first period against Plymouth South. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BOURNE, Mass. – A punch in the gut.

That’s what it felt like for the Canton High boys hockey team on Thursday evening. The Bulldogs had just scored their third straight goal, erasing an early three-goal deficit to tie the game with just 1:53 left to in the third period.

But just 14 seconds after Canton completed its comeback, Plymouth South senior Joey Van Winkle saw his slap shot somehow find its way through a crowd in front and into the back of the net. The Panthers added an empty-net goal in the final minute to notch a 5-3 victory in the D2 South Semifinals.

“That’s what it felt like,” Shuman said. “We were bad off of the faceoff on two goals…off that center ice faceoff, they got two goals against us. It’s tough, we played hard, I’m proud of the guys for battling back like they did. That’s this team. We haven’t been down three goals all year and they fight back and made it 3-3… but [Plymouth South] just found a way to get a shot through at the end.”

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The game couldn’t have started worse for the Bulldogs or any better for the third-seeded Panthers. Plymouth South scored on its first shot of the game, just 13 seconds into the game when defenseman Jack Worrick fired a shot that found its way between a defenseman’s legs and right into the top corner.

The momentum stayed with the Panthers as they doubled the lead before a minute had expired on the game clock. A turnover in the neutral zone allowed South’s Sean Colbert to skate into the zone and his low wrist shot found its way in at the far post to make it 2-0.

It looked as though Canton might be able to get one back quickly when Plymouth South was whistled for too many men on the ice, but even the power play couldn’t help the Bulldogs.

Forty seconds into the man advantage, a miscommunication on a pass allowed South to skate out of its zone, coming down on a 2-on-1. Panthers senior Daniel Lincoln elected to shoot, hitting the crossbar and in for a 3-0 advantage.

Though down 3-0 midway through the first period, the Bulldogs started to get their legs underneath them and started to plant the seeds of the comeback.

The best chance in the first came with four minutes to play when Bubba McNeice tossed a pass in front that was deflected into the air. Senior Jack Goyetch got a good chunk of it by batting it out of the air but somehow South goalie Cam McPhee kept it out. The rebound found its way around before Mike Dadasis sent it in front again but McPhee covered the puck as Goyetch tried to bury it.

The second period was completely different than the first as the Bulldogs dominated from the opening faceoff. Canton outshot South 16-1 in the fame, scoring a pair of goals to right back into the game.

Despite having to kill a pair of power plays, the Dogs were on the front foot throughout. Shortly after a 21-second power play of their own, Canton finally got on the board.

Junior Joe Robinson read a clearance attempt from the Panthers, knocking it down with his glove. He skated towards goal, and despite having his stick lifted, his was able to slide a pass over to sophomore Chris Lavoie who buried his chance from in close with 5:13 left in the second.

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Constant pressure in the offensive zone led to a tripping call on the Panthers, and Canton made sure to cash in. Junior Ryan Nolte picked up a loose puck after a face-off, skated towards behind the goal but dropped the puck off to sophomore Johnny Hagan. Hagan tossed the puck on goal, and despite having a tough angle, the puck hit off the post and in to bring Canton within one with 1:03 to go in the second.

The third period was a bit more even with the early edge to South. But Canton continued to push to tie the game. Hagan had another tough angle shot bang off the crossbar just over three minutes into the frame.

As the clock ticked under six minutes to play, Canton amped up its pressure. McNeice came flying into the zone only for his shot to whistle just wide of the post. And then with 1:53 to play, the Dogs scored their third.

Sophomore Owen Lehane alertly pinched on a clearance attempt and then skated behind the goal to draw the attention of the defense. With all eyes on Lehane, he slid the puck through the crease to the waiting stick of Hagan, who roofed his shot to tie the game.

“This group was special, they really were,” Shuman said. “They showed all kinds of resiliency all year long. I think that’s a credit to the seniors, all 14 of them. They embraced every role we asked of them and they couldn’t be better teammates. The guys on the bench were rooting them on all the way and the guys on the ice fought like hell. It’s just a testament to this team, they were a really great team. It’s always tough to lose at the end of the year like that but I’m still proud of them nonetheless.”

Unfortunately, Plymouth South stole all of the momentum back just 14 seconds later. South gained possession down low, and as Canton’s defense collapse, the puck was sent back out to the defense and Van Winkle somehow got the puck to find its way through traffic.

Canton finished with a 36-19 advantage in shots on goal but it could have been much higher. South’s defense blocked at least a dozen more attempts in front of McPhee.

“I think blocking shots was the key to that game,” Shuman said. “They blocked a lot of our shots, and blocking shots is an art form. I give all the credit in the world to Plymouth South, they wanted that game. And a lot of times you can tell how badly you want to game by how well you block shots. They blocked more of them and a couple of their shots from the points snuck through and that was the difference”

Canton boys hockey finishes the season 17-3-4.

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