Taunton scored with just 10.4 seconds left in the game, erasing Foxboro’s incredible third-period comeback to earn a point in a 5-5 tie.
“It’s our season in a nutshell,” sighed Taunton head coach Kris Metea. “We come out good and score, then commit penalties and allow power play goals that break our back. It happened [last week] against North Attleboro and it happened again tonight.”
The Tigers led 1-0 after the first period but Foxboro stormed back for a pair of goals in the final two minutes of the second period to seize a 2-1 lead. But before the period could end, Taunton knotted the score at 2-2 with just seconds to play.
Taunton capitalized on that late goal in the second by carrying the momentum into the third period, taking the lead just 31 seconds into the final frame, and making it 4-2 before a minute had elapsed in the third.
Foxboro refused to go away though, cutting the deficit to one with just over nine minutes to play. And then the Warriors took advantage of a pair of power play opportunities, tying the game just over the midway point, and taking the lead just five seconds into its next man-advantage situation.
With 1:39 to go, Taunton called a timeout after a Foxboro icing. Metea elected to keep sophomore Sean Bunker in the net for the time being, and the decision paid off. Foxboro’s Ronnie MacLellan, who had both of Foxboro’s power play goals, had a partial breakaway chance with just over a minute but Bunker (22 saves) denied the bid, keeping the deficit at one.
Back up ice, Foxboro sophomore goalie Espn Reager was equal to the task when Will Walsh’s shot was tipped by Trevor Pietrzyk, but Reager made the save with his mask. The Warriors were whistled for a penalty out in front on the play, however, and with Bunker pulled, Taunton had a 6-on-4 chance.
Walsh was the catalyst of the play, skating into the zone, weaving past a pair of defenders. He looped behind the goal before dropping the puck back to junior defenseman Andrew Carter, who quickly deposited a shot on goal. Reager blocked down the original bid through traffic but Pietrzyk was in the right spot for the rebound, netting the tying goal with just 10.4 seconds to go.
“Over the development of the program over the last couple of years, we’ve either given a whooping or got a whooping, and there was no in-between for the longest time,” Metea said. “Now with the JV ranks being competitive, they’ve learned not to get upset when they get down a goal. That’s the biggest thing about our team right now is that even if we get down a goal or two, the kids are still plugging away, they aren’t giving up.”
“We kind of came out flat in the third period but our guys fought back and were resilient, and it was good to see that, it showed a lot of character,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “I’m really proud of the way we fought back. It could have easily have been 6-2 but battled back, tied it up and even took the lead. It was a tough penalty at the end, nothing we can do about it. I’m just proud of the way they hung in there and stayed with the game plan.”
It looked as though Taunton was going to skate away with a win with three goals in the time span of a minute of game play. Pietrzyk set up Jakob Roberts right in front of the net to steal the momentum at the end of the second.
Walsh quickly gave Taunton its second lead of the game with a wrist shot just inside the zone just 29 seconds in. The Tigers continued to put their foot down on the gas pedal as Roberts potted a rebound chance when Pietrzyk had his close bid denied by Reager.
But trailing 4-2 just a minute into the third period didn’t phase the Warriors. Senior defenseman Aidan Sullivan stepped into a slap shot and found the back of the net with 9:06 to play to make it a one-goal game.
On the power play, junior Brendan Tully drew the attention of the Tigers’ defense before rifling a pass right in front to MacLellan for a one-timer, and a 4-4 tie.
Foxboro went on the man advantage with 4:48 to play, and after winning the face-off, MacLellan gave the Warriors the lead just five seconds into the power play.
“Sully and Tully create a lot of offense for us,” Cedorchuk said of his two defensemen. “They create a lot of chances and when they have the opportunities to get the puck to the net, they will. And our forwards know that so they get to the net as much as possible to get there for any rebounds. Even though Sully and Tully are offensive minded, they are also very good defensively.”
Walsh gave the Tigers the lead in the first period, taking a perfect one-time pass from Pietrzyk in stride into the attacking zone and finding the back of the net with a wrist shot.
Tully tied the game for Foxboro with 1:25 left in the second period. The junior defenseman jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone, took a couple of strides into the attacking zone and unleashed a wicked wrister to make it 1-1.
Just 40 seconds later, MacLellan avoided a defenseman with a nifty spin move, dishing the puck to Sebastian Ricketts all in one move, and the sophomore buried it for a brief 2-1 lead. Roberts tied the game up just 35 seconds later for Taunton.
“We made some changes to our lines and decided to break some people up and it ended up working out for us, and I think that change is probably going to stay,” Metea said. “But the offense is all well and good but only if you keep the puck out of the net. We’ve had a lot of high scoring affairs this year. I don’t know if I should be happy about that, scoring all the goals, or upset by giving up as many as we have. I know we have a young defense, no seniors back there, so I know we’ll have some growing pains, we just have to be patient.”
Taunton boys hockey (0-1-1 Hockomock, 4-3-1 overall) is back in action on Saturday when it hosts Mansfield at 2:00. Foxboro boys hockey (0-0-2, 3-2-2) will hit the ice again on Wednesday when they travel to face Mansfield at 5:40.