Canton Knocked Out By Raiders in Title Game Rematch

Canton girls hockey
Canton senior forward Lauren Fitzpatrick chases down a puck in the offensive zone against Wellesley in the D2 opening round. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WATERTOWN, Mass. – Sometimes you run into the wrong team at the wrong time. Canton (12-6-5) believed it was one of the top teams in Division 2 heading into the state tournament and had the potential to make a run at a third straight title game appearance, but then it got drawn with arguably the top team in D2, Wellesley, in the first round.

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The Raiders seemed to have found another gear in the past few weeks and that form continued on Monday night at the John A. Ryan Arena, as Wellesley rolled to a 5-0 victory and a return to the D2 quarterfinal.

“That’s not the team that I scouted that tied Walpole and lost to Notre Dame,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich about Monday night’s opponent. “They’ve got three solid lines, they’re strong with their sticks, their transition game is the best that I’ve seen. We couldn’t get pucks through. It’s just a really, really deep, solid team.”

Wellesley opened the scoring after five minutes when freshman forward Lulu Rourke weaved through a trio of Canton defenders and dropped a perfect pass in the path of her sister Emily, who then fired a shot inside the post. Only 71 seconds later and Wellesley doubled its advantage. Bridget Noonan got the puck in the slot and picked the corner for a power play tally.

“Unfortunately, the slow start, we’ve had that this year a few different times,” Aldrich explained. “I didn’t think we played too badly. Our breakout I thought was fine. We knew some things they were going to do and we counteracted that pretty well.”

The Raiders dominated zone time in the first period, but the Canton defense managed to hold the puck to the outside and limited Wellesley to only three shots on goal. Meg Aldrich, Alexa Maffeo, Katie Trerice, and company were able to block shots and keep the front of the net clear.

On the other end, Canton’s chances were rare. The Bulldogs also managed three shots on goal in the first, but were unable to sustain zone time and take some of the pressure off the defense. Aldrich created a turnover in the neutral zone, which sprung Leah McClellan for a shot from inside the left face-off dot that was saved by Wellesley goalie Liddy Schultz.

The second period was all Wellesley. The Raiders put 13 shots on goal in the second and Canton goalie Ava Pacitti had to hold firm to give the Bulldogs any shot of a comeback. Erin Fleming added a third goal with an unstoppable shot from the right circle to the stick side and Bliss Vernon found the five-hole from the high slot, but Pacitti kept Canton close despite all of Wellesley’s attacks.

Tess Khoury nearly created a goal out of nothing for the Bulldogs when she poke checked a Wellesley defender on the edge of the crease and forced Schultz into a pad stop. McClellan aggressively forechecked shorthanded and tried to stuff the puck in from a tight angle after forcing a turnover.

Although they went into the third period trailing by four goals, the Bulldogs managed to put together their best attacking period of the game. Lauren Fitzpatrick and Maggie Malloy were finally able to create some space to get off shots, as did Lizzie Tassinari.

“There’s only so many things that you can control,” said Aldrich. “People can beat you but they can’t out-compete you and I thought they really brought it in the third period. The seniors, it was their opportunities to sign their names to this game as what they want to leave as a legacy. I was really pleased with the effort.”

Canton would outshoot the Raiders 10-9 in the third, but it was Wellesley that added to the scoreline. Lulu Rourke took the puck down the left side and again showed off her stick skills to dodge a pair of defenders and stick the puck in with a backhand shot that made it 5-0.

“I think we’re one of the top four teams in this division,” said Aldrich, “and to have to meet probably the best team in the division in the first round kind of stinks.”

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OA Gives Wellesley All It Can Handle in Quarterfinal

Oliver Ames girls basketball
OA freshman Caroline Peper was tightly guarded all night long but still managed to score in double figures as OA pushed No. 2 seed Wellesley to the final whistle. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WELLESLEY, Mass. – The upset was there for the taking. Oliver Ames was down by just one point entering the fourth quarter on the road at second-seeded Wellesley in Friday night’s Div. 1 South quarterfinal and battled back from seven points down in the fourth to get within three twice, but the Tigers couldn’t find the baskets they needed against the experienced Raiders.

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Oliver Ames (13-9) gave the hosts everything they could handle, but the Raiders showed their mettle and made the big shots when they were needed to pull out a 46-41 victory that sets up a semifinal against Bay State Conference rival Braintree.

“We knew we were going to have to deal with a lot of screening, a lot of slips,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “We spent two days on how to help, how to hedge, how to help the helper, all those things, but you’ve got to put the ball in the basket at the other end too. It’s one thing to get a stop but you’ve got to score.”

From the start, it was obvious that offense was going to be tough to come by for both teams. Despite scoring a combined 26 points in the first quarter, neither team was able to find a rhythm offensively, although Wellesley was finding some success slipping screens in the pick and roll and getting its forwards heading to the basket.

OA was relying on its ability to get into the paint and out on the break to generate its offense. Senior forward Alex Sheldon got off to a good start with five points in the first, including three free throws, and sophomore Caroline Flynn got an offensive rebound and then scored off a Meg Holleran assist.

Wellesley led 15-11 after one, but the defenses got even tougher to breakdown from that point forward. The Raiders would only make two shots and score seven points in the second quarter, but they also held OA to just one made field goal (a Flynn layup in transition) and six points to actually extend their lead to five points at the break.

Senior guard Gianna Palli came out firing in the third, getting free for a rare drive to the basket and burying a deep three from the wing to push the Wellesley lead to as many as eight points. As it turned out, the basket would be her last of the night, as Sadie Homer clamped down and allowed Palli (11 points) little room to maneuver.

“I’m really proud of her,” Clement-Holbrook said of Homer, who has the opportunity to play volleyball and basketball next year at Dean College. “She was able to finish as a senior the way that we hoped that she would.”

Just when it looked like Wellesley may break the game wide open, the young Tigers came storming back. Freshman Caroline Peper, OA’s leading scorer, finally wriggled free of the attentions of Wellesley senior Molly Cronin to score on an offensive rebound plus the foul. Homer found Flynn (10 points) in transition for an easy basket and then Flynn set up Sheldon (seven points) for a short jumper.

When Flynn kicked out to Holleran for an open three, OA had come all the way back to tie the game at 29-29. Wellesley responded with a big three from Cronin but Holleran set up a cutting Peper (12 points) for a basket that made it a one-point game with eight minutes remaining.

In close games, when the pressure gets ratcheted up, experience counts and the Raiders definitely benefited from playing in this stage or later in recent years. Anna Glashow drilled a three and then, after a Peper basket, Lily Woodring beat the buzzer with a contested mid-range jumper following a great defensive possession. Brooke Guiffre (game-high 14 points) hit a three from the corner to put the Raiders back up seven.

Peper had been largely held in check by Cronin’s defense, but she got fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three at the line to get the game back within four. Clement-Holbrook saw this game as a learning experience for the rookie on how to handle this level of attention from opposing defenses.

“Now she’s a known entity,” Clement-Holbrook said of Peper. “Cronin’s not going to let a ninth grader beat her, that’s what it comes down to, so I just talked about this will be a good experience. I said, the down side will be if you don’t learn from this in the off-season and make yourself a better player.”

Trailing by five, OA had several defensive stops in a row, but each time the Tigers failed to take advantage at the other end and the clock started to whittle away. Finally, Holleran fought to grab an offensive rebound and wriggled through a few defenders for a basket that made it 41-38. Wellesley went to the line but missed a pair only to have Goehringer snag the rebound with 57.1 on the clock.

OA again locked down on the defensive side of the ball, sticking with players through a myriad of screens on the perimeter until the ball swung over to the left wing where Guiffre made the biggest shot of the game, sticking a three despite Flynn’s hand right in her face.

“She drained it,” said Clement-Holbrook. “Those were big moments for them and they took advantage of the situations and I think that was the difference that we didn’t do that in situations where we had fought back and got it to three.”

The game was far from over, as Homer (seven points) came down and answered with a three of her own to keep it a one-possession game with 10.2 remaining. OA fouled on the inbound and Guiffre missed the front end of the one-and-one. Flynn got the rebound and headed up court but the Tigers were called for traveling with 4.5 left.

Guiffre made amends by hitting two at the line and sealing the win.

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Bulldogs Fall to Top Seed Wellesley in State Title Game

Canton girls hockey
Canton captains Marissa Devine, Colleen Kelleher, Kendra Farrelly, and Andrea McNeil pose with head coach Dennis Aldrich and the MIAA D2 State Finalist trophy. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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BOSTON, Mass. – Wellesley and Canton (18-4-3) combined to hold opponents to only 48 goals in 47 games this season, including just three goals apiece during their three tournament games leading into Sunday afternoon’s Div. 2 state championship game at the TD Garden.

It was no surprise then that scoring was at a premium in the final. Jenna Harrison’s goal with only 4.7 seconds remaining in the first period turned out to be enough to lift Wellesley, which was in its fourth trip to the TD Garden in the past five years, to a 1-0 victory and the state title.

“We’ve been riding Colleen for so long that we thought if the shots were even then we’d have a very good chance,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “I don’t think we concentrated enough on getting shots through them. We sometimes would make a little extra move, we felt confident about that, but it wasn’t necessarily the game plan.”

He also praised Wellesley, adding, “They are the best team we’ve faced this year and they are a true champion.”

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The Raiders dominated puck possession and created far more scoring opportunities than the Bulldogs, who found their chances limited throughout the game. Senior goalie Colleen Kelleher put in another stellar performance in net, stopping 30 shots in her final game for Canton.

“Another big game by Colleen,” said Aldrich feigning a yawn about his senior goalie who has been consistently strong in helping Canton get to the TD Garden in each of the last two seasons. “I’m trying to red-shirt her by the way. She’s a heck of a player…and she’s the first one to pass it off to her teammates and that’s what makes her special.

Canton was limited to just eight shots in the game. The offense was stymied by the talented Wellesley defense, which blocked a number of shots to protect sophomore goalie Liddy Schultz and kept the Canton attackers to the outside.

Olivia Vernon had the first good chance for Wellesley, forcing Kelleher into a glove save three minutes into the game, and Erin Fleming skated to the right circle to bring out a blocker save. Canton took seven minutes before creating its first scoring chance. Alexa Maffeo’s shot from the point picked out freshman Lizzie Tassinari on the near post but Schultz got down quickly to block.

Wellesley nearly took the lead with three minutes left in the first after Kelleher’s initial save went straight to Lauren Ruggiero but the rebound effort slid just wide. Tassinari drew a save out of Schultz that fellow freshman Maria Femia followed up but also could not beat the Raiders goalie.

A warning shot came with 30 seconds left in the period when Mackenzie O’Neil got free on the right side, but fired her shot just wide. With the clock ticking down in the period, Wellesley finally made its dominance pay with a great individual effort. Harrison dragged the puck through her legs and dangled past three Canton defensemen before lifting a shot past Kelleher.

The rest of the game followed a similar pattern of Wellesley getting a number of shots on Kelleher, while the Bulldogs struggled to get into the transition game that made its offense so potent during the season.

Kelleher made a kick save to deny Isabelle Kressy from the slot and made a pair of quick saves to keep out Catherine Crosier and then the rebound shot from Bliss Vernon. In the third period, she also stuffed O’Neil on the edge of the crease and then seconds later on a one-timer from the right circle.

Canton created few chances but in the second period the Bulldogs nearly pulled even. SeniorKatie Halloran skated down the near boards and picked out freshman Ellie Rae Roberts, who was all alone in front. Roberts struggled to handle the pass and then rushed a backhand effort on goal that Schultz pushed aside. It was the only shot that Canton would put on target in the period.

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Despite experiencing the TD Garden ice for the first time, the freshmen on the second and third lines put in impressive shifts for the Bulldogs on Saturday.

“They’ve got a huge upside,” said Aldrich. “Ellie Rae’s speed is terrific. Maria, her compete level, and Lizzie is just one of the smartest players we have. They’re definitely going to be future leaders coming through.”

The other great chance came only a minute later when Maggie Malloy found room on the near boards and sent a near-perfect pass across the crease to Lauren Fitzpatrick, but it went straight through with Schultz stranded.

Malloy came into the game having scored six goals in three playoff games, including all three game-winners, but she struggled to consistently get on the puck in the final. The top line, which includes Kendra Farrelly, Malloy, and Fitzpatrick, had all but one of Canton’s goals in the postseason but managed very few shots on goal in the final. Malloy had one inside the final six minutes but that would be Canton’s last of the game.

“We tried to break into short, two-minute games, play each shift out there like the goalie’s pulled,” Aldrich said of the mentality in the third period. “If we could match that intensity, go a shift at a time, forget about the match-ups, where everything goes to the net. Forget about mistakes, out-compete them in the third period.”

He continued, “I thought we were certainly a little more desperate than they were and we’re hoping we could catch them being a little comfortable and playing not to lose, but they’re a well-coached team and they did a nice job. They’ve been here before and they’ll be here again and hopefully we’ll be joining them.”

Aldrich also praised his group of seniors, including a few who do not see much time on the ice but got the chance to skate at the TD Garden in the final nine seconds after a late penalty on the Bulldogs forced them into a defensive zone face-off.

“These guys were with us when we played our last game at Ponkapoag Rink and the next year the rink went down and we were a road team all over the place,” he said. “These guys were there. They played the first game in our new rink and brought us to the Garden the last two years, so for them I’m just so thrilled.

“It will sting now but they’re going to look back and they’re going to smile.”

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Hornets Turn It On After Break to Reach Semifinal

Mansfield girls basketball
Mansfield junior Maggie Danehy (42) scored a game-high 20 points to help the Hornets come from behind and beat Wellesley in the Div. 1 South quarterfinal at Taunton High. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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TAUNTON, Mass. – Mansfield scored the final four points of the first half to cut the Wellesley lead to single digits going into the break in Saturday afternoon’s Div. 1 South quarterfinal at Taunton High. At the time it didn’t feel like much of a turnaround, but for a team that has been dominating in the second half all season it was just the spark that was needed to get going.

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The Hornets turned that small four-point swing into a 13-0 run to get its first lead since the game’s opening basket, allowed only three points in the third quarter and only gave up 11 in the second half. In the end, it turned out to be a 35-11 run to close out the game and give Mansfield a 48-35 victory that books a return to the semifinal.

“That third quarter has been somewhat magical for us,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “I don’t really say much, they just come out and figure it out and start making shots and the momentum builds. When you make shots, then you play better on defense and momentum is so powerful in the game of basketball.”

One of the keys to the comeback was a change from a 1-3-1 zone into a more traditional 2-3 look that allowed the Hornets to get out to the Raiders’ shooters. In the early going, Mansfield was scrambling and Wellesley took advantage.

Emma Dougherty, Brooke Guiffre and Sofie Paulsen each knocked down threes in the opening quarter, as Wellesley opened up a 17-7 lead, which was aided by Meg Hill picking up two fouls inside the opening four minutes of the game. Paulsen (15 points) also got free for seven points in the second, including a three that put Wellesley ahead 24-13.

“We tried some gimmick stuff,” Redding explained. “We didn’t practice, we literally walked through at Mass Premier in the dark this morning how we were going to defend them. We went back to just basic zone and our kids rotated. They have three really good players, but we did a really good job of finding those three.”

The comeback started innocuously enough, as Hill came back into the game and scored off an assist by Ann Maher and then she got a layup off a drive and dish by Sydney Mulkern. The four points cut the lead to seven going into the break and Redding was pleased with the way the team weathered the storm while Hill was in foul trouble.

He said, “We hung in the second quarter with Meg with two fouls and that was the turning point. It was starting to get away from us and when she got two [fouls] in the first quarter I was worried but we hung in, got it to single digits, got into halftime with a little confidence and now we’ve got Meg back in a regular rotation.”

Mulkern assisted on another Hill bucket coming out of halftime and then Maggie Danehy knocked down a jumper to cut the lead to three. Junior point guard Mady Bendanillo then went on a personal 5-0 run that put Mansfield ahead for the first time since it was 2-0. She got a steal and layup plus the foul to tie the game and then grabbed a defensive rebound and beat everyone down the floor for the layup and the lead.

“I don’t know if she had a turnover,” said Redding of Bendanillo. “We run a lot of stuff and she knows exactly where to go with it and I thought that few minute stretch where she was driving and off transition, scoring points for us, really put the game away for us.”

The lead didn’t last long, as Gianna Palli stepped way beyond the arc to hit a three to make it 27-26, but that would be the only basket that the Hornets allowed in the third. Danehy scored on a put-back and then Maher (seven points) made her only three of the game to put the Hornets up by four heading to the fourth.

Mansfield kept the pressure on in the fourth thanks to Danehy, who scored six of the first nine points in the quarter, including a free throw line jumper off a Maher assist that made it 37-30. She finished with a game-high 20 points and pulled down six rebounds.

“Since they were double-teaming Meg, I was open a lot more than I usually am, which helped,” Danehy said after the game. “They left the lane open a lot, so I tried that. It’s way better once you get a couple baskets. It’s always harder to get going if you don’t score in the beginning.”

Wellesley only managed eight points in the fourth, including a pair of threes, and was never able to get any closer than five points.

Maher got free with a cut down the lane off an inbounds pass from Emily Vigeant, who had three assists in the fourth. Hill scored a layup off a Vigeant pass and Bendanillo (10 points and four assists) scored with a drive down the lane. Hill (10 points and 12 boards) capped the win with a layup in traffic off a Danehy assist.

When asked to explain the Hornets’ second half dominance this season, Danehy replied, “We realize that we need to get it together after halftime and [Coach Redding] is always so good at telling us what we need to improve on.”

Mansfield (20-5) will face another familiar Bay State Conference opponent in the semifinal, as the Hornets will get a rematch with No. 2 seed Braintree, which beat Mansfield in last year’s sectional final.

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Defense Reigns As Mansfield Grinds Out Semifinal Win

Mansfield girls basketball
Mansfield sophomore Mady Bendanillo scored 11 points, pulled down eight rebounds, and had four steals to help the Hornets beat Wellesley and reach the Div. 1 South final. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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BROCKTON, Mass. – Prior to Tuesday night’s Div. 1 South semifinal between Mansfield and Wellesley at Massasoit Community College, questions were being asked at the press table about whether or not either team could get to 40 points.

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The two teams are among the best in the state on the defensive side of the ball and both have held opponents under 40 points per game this season, including Mansfield’s Hockomock-best 37.4. In the opening round, Wellesley held Marshfield to just 32 and the Hornets limited high-scoring Attleboro to only 31.

It was never going to be a pretty game, never going to be a shootout, but in the end Mansfield did just enough on offense and once again clamped down on defense to win 40-31 and advance to the South final on Friday night.

“It was a grind,” Mansfield coach Mike Redding admitted after the game. “This bracket is just brutal with good teams and good defenses. Right now, it’s just survive and move on and for the first time in I think six years we’re back in the final.”

He was quick to praise the Raiders, adding, “I thought maybe we could get close to 50 and hold them to 40, but they were very good defensively. They’re quick, well-coached, they took things away that we normally wanted to do.”

Mansfield was able to get out to an early lead in the first quarter by holding the Raiders to just four points. Offensively, Jen Peel could not find her own shot (scoring only five points and making one shot from the field), but she dished out three of her five assists and had a pair of steals.

When Kara Bendanillo drove and kicked out to the corner for an Emily Vigeant three, the Hornets had an 11-4 lead after one. After Wellesley cut the lead to just three, Mansfield responded with an 11-3 run sparked by sophomore point guard Mady Bendanillo, who scored five of her 11 points in the quarter.

“We call a lot of different stuff where she’s got to get the ball to a lot of different places,” said Redding of Bendanillo, “and it’s just amazing how she runs the offense. I think she may have come out for a minute or two in the first half and that’s it; she can go for 32 minutes and she doesn’t take a possession off.”

Meg Hill scored inside to start the run and then Bendanillo started to get out on the break. She finished in transition off an Ann Maher pass and then tipped the ball loose to Maher who fed it right back for another basket on the break, plus the foul.

“If Jen has to play the point then she has to do all that work bringing it up and she doesn’t get the points, so Mady has certainly been a key to transition from losing all those seniors to this group,” said Redding. “Her playing the point and creating chances for Jen has been one of the secrets of our success.”

The Hornets led 22-13 at halftime, but things fell apart offensively in the third quarter. The Raiders stymied Mansfield on nearly every possession, holding the Hornets without a made field goal and to just four points from the line in the quarter. Luckily for Mansfield, the defense did not miss a beat and did not allow Wellesley to get going, with the exception of Gianna Palli, who scored 12 of the Raiders’ 19 points in the second and third quarters combined.

“No, not at all,” said Hill when asked if it was easy to get going against the Raiders defense. “We’ve always heard about Wellesley’s defense and it was important that we kept taking shots…She was really long (Wellesley forward Dorian Cohen), so over the head wasn’t working and bouncing was too low to the ground and it was just hard to get the perfect combination but in the end it worked out.”

Hill, who was not feeling well on Tuesday, finished with a team-high 14 points and 13 rebounds, but the combination of Cohen and Leo Sperling made it very difficult to get the ball to her in the post. Even with the struggle to score, Mansfield led 26-23 heading to the fourth.

After a couple more free throws, Bendanillo stole the ball from Sperling, who had just grabbed a defensive rebound, and laid it in for the Hornets’ first made basket of the second half (10-1/2 minutes after the break). The Raiders battled back with Kelcie Zarle scoring in transition and then Palli adding a three-point play that cut the lead to five points with about a minute remaining.

Peel continued to struggle, making her lone basket on a drive to the hoop in the fourth, but she pulled off the pass of the game to set up Hill for the killer three-point play that sealed the win. Driving down the left side of the lane, Peel angled as though she was going up for the shot but with her left hand bounced a pass around the defender to the waiting Hill, who finished it with contact.

Hill joked, “If I’m being completely honest, I had no idea where the ball was and I just kind of hoped it would work.”

Redding added, “It got it to six or seven and everybody, I think, took a breathe of relief that we had a little cushion again and then we went to man and they went a little cold shooting and we made some free throws.”

It may not have been the prettiest win, but at this stage of the season there are no extra style points to be awarded. Redding certainly did not mind how the result was attained.

He said, “At this point we’ve got to be considered one of the top defensive teams. We’re holding people to 30 points on a regular basis and if we do that we can win any night.

Hill agreed, “It’s amazing, I can’t wait. It’s just live to play another day.”

Mansfield (20-2) will await the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal between Braintree and Newton South on Friday night at 5:30 at Taunton High. The Mansfield boys will follow in their final against Needham at 7:45.

“Hey, a Hornets doubleheader on Friday night in Taunton, it should be fun,” said Redding. “At this point, we’re playing on house money, so we’ll just show up and go for it.”

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After Strong Start, Panthers Hang On For Win

Franklin hockey
Franklin held on for a 2-1 victory over Wellesley in the Div. 1 South first round at Loring Arena. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – With Franklin leading 2-0 in the second period, sophomore Jeremy Miller skated past three Wellesley defensemen in the zone and unleashed a rocket that appeared to hit the bar in the back of the net and ricocheted out.

Wellesley fans at that end of the ice were waiting for the officials to stop play for the goal, but instead it was ruled that the shot hit the crossbar and the Panthers’ lead stayed at two goals.

Just seconds later that lead was cut in half and for the final 23 minutes of the game Wellesley became the aggressor and put Franklin back on its heels. Despite the Raiders’ pressure, Franklin held on, thanks in part to 20 saves from senior goalie Nick Jasinski, for a 2-1 victory in the Div. 1 South opener at Loring Ice Arena in Framingham.

“We’ve just got to learn how to put teams away,” said a relieved Franklin coach Chris Spillane after the game. “We seem to have a problem; we keep teams around all the time and I can’t take many more of these games.”

In the first period, it seemed as though Franklin could run away with a comfortable win. The Panthers carried play for the majority of the first, outshooting Wellesley 14-4, and with 3:20 left in the period Adam Assad took an outlet pass from Joe Corsi and beat goalie Andrew Johnston five-hole to make it 1-0.

The lead was doubled just 1:42 into the second period and on Franklin’s first shot after intermission. Sophomore Luke Downie made a move past his man to the right circle and snuck his shot past Johnston into the far corner.

“It was a big goal,” said Downie. “I got a pass in the middle from Jake Downie (Luke’s cousin) and I made a move to beat the kid wide and shot it falling down and it went in.”

Spillane added, “Luke’s been a great player for us…as the year has progressed, he’s simplified his game a little bit, and become a north-south player. It’s good to see him play like that tonight.”

Miller thought that he had given the Panthers a three-goal cushion five minutes later, but with 7:52 left in the second Wellesley got on the board on Zach Doughty’s shot through a screen. 

The goal turned the momentum of the game and for the final eight minutes of the second it was one-way traffic towards the Franklin goal. While Wellesley was not racking up a ton of shots (just seven total in the second period), the pressure was mounting and the buzzer sounded during a flurry in front of Jasinski.

The buzzer felt like a reprieve for Franklin, as it seemed only a matter of time before Wellesley scored.

“It was coming,” said Spillane, “and maybe our guys were a little gassed, but it was wasted energy. I thought we were chasing the puck around too much instead of playing good, sound positional hockey.”

“They took it to us for two periods. I thought we had a good first period but after that they dictated the pace of the game.”

Early in the third, there was another scramble in front of Jasinski after he knocked down a shot from the outside but was unable to cover the rebound. Asad nearly wrapped up the win with a chance with 2:45 left but Johnston made a big save while on his back.

As the clock was winding down to the final minute, Jasinski had to come through several times to preserve the lead. He made a solid kick save and managed to get his stick on a shot when he seemed to be out of position. It was a scramble at times, but he managed to hold the lead.

“They were getting a lot of shots on me, but we just kept fighting them off getting it out of the zone as best we could,” Jasinski said. “I just focus on keeping my head and not thinking about giving up a goal but just stopping the next shot. It helps me out and makes me less nervous.”

Spillane said, “In tournament you need your best player to be your goaltender…I can’t knock Nick at all. He’s been there for us all season and we need him to step up next round.”

Finally the buzzer sounded and the Panthers could celebrate a victory and a chance to play in the quarterfinal against the winner of Archbishop Williams and Walpole.

Downie admitted, “When I looked at the clock, I didn’t realize there were zero seconds left. I thought there was a lot of time left so I was excited about that.”

“It was a grind,” he added. “We had to work really hard to keep the one-goal lead. They were coming strong and we had to keep fighting, but we pulled off the win.”

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.