By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
BROCKTON, Mass. – After a back and forth battle through the first two periods, Oliver Ames scored three unanswered goals in the final frame to pick up its second win of the season with a 6-3 decision over King Philip.
Senior captain Matt Mancini netted his first career hat trick, sophomore Owen Gallagher had three assists and a goal and the Tigers outshot the Warriors 38-16.
Both teams had leads in the first period but went into the first intermission tied and then traded goals in the second period to stay level with just a period to go.
With the game tied 3-3, the Warriors went on their first power play of the game just before the midway point of the third period. It looked like KP would take its third lead of the game as time was about to expire in the man advantage but Jacob Kelly’s shot rang off the crossbar. Oliver Ames was able to corral the puck and cleared it out. The puck took a funny hop off the glass and landed right in front of Gallagher.
The sophomore was unable to get a shot off on his breakaway with a KP defenseman chasing behind but Gallagher was able to keep possession behind the net, looked up and found a wide open Max Ward in front and the freshman went five hole to give OA a 4-3 lead.
The Warriors had another man advantage with 2:30 to play but less than a minute in, a turnover turned into a chance for the Tigers. Gallagher was able to race up ice and went to the left of the net, drawing the attention of two KP defensemen. Gallagher calmly used his backhand to feed a wide open Mancini in front with a no look pass and the senior completed his hat trick to seal the game with 1:32. Gallagher scored on an empty net goal with 27 seconds to play.
“In the last two games we’ve given up goals in the last couple minutes of the game which is not a good habit to have,” Oliver Ames head coach Mark Homer said. “It was an unfortunate penalty but I just told the guys they had to collapse around the net, leave it all out on the ice, block shots and every chance we have, clear the puck. We had veteran players out there to take care of it. [King Philip’s] a good team, they are scrappy and they work real hard.
“Owen’s such an unselfish player,” Homer said. “Did he score all the goals? No but he creates opportunities offensively and defensively. He just has a real good hockey IQ. Like on that last play, he knows where guys are. He doesn’t get upset or worked up about things and he’s a real smart player. He’s proof you don’t need to be 6’2, 230 pounds to control situations in the game. I feel real confident when he’s out there no matter who he’s playing with.”
King Philip opened the scoring in the game despite a dominant start from OA. The Tigers had the first seven shots on goal but it was the Warriors who found the back of the net with 11:29 to go. After sophomore Collin Cooke was unable to convert a breakaway chance, he stayed with it and tossed a centering pass that deflected off a defenseman and in to make it 1-0.
Less than two minutes later the Tigers nearly tied it up but KP goalie Shane Frommer came up with a huge glove save to rob Cullen Gallagher in the slot. Frommer finished with 32 saves.
The Tigers were finally able to solve Frommer midway through the first when sophomore Eric LeBlanc slammed home a rebound off a shot from senior Max Bamford at the blue line. Oliver Ames then cashed in on its first power play of the game near the end of the period. Owen Gallagher picked up the puck along the far side boards and fired a pass right in front for Mancini to tap in.
Just when it looked like Oliver Ames would go into the first intermission with the lead, King Philip’s Richie Lucente found Cooke open in front with just 8.3 seconds left and the sophomore buried it to send the teams into the break tied 2-2.
The Warriors took their second of the game just over three minutes into the second. Nick Connor was able to keep control after a hit along the near boards and send a centering pass that Lucente got his stick to to roof the puck for a 3-2 lead. King Philip nearly doubled its lead by OA goal Zach Walsh made a tremendous point blank save on Cooke from right in front.
But once again, special teams helped bring Oliver Ames back into the game. The Tigers went on the power play with 2:58 in the game and converted when Jared Costello found Mancini in front right after the penalty expired to tie the game with 1:24 left.
“You get bounces because you work hard, you’re in the right place at the right time because you work hard,” Homer said. “I know at times Matt gets frustrated because he thinks he needs to do more than he’s doing. He’s starting to have more patience. He’s a veteran on the team, he’s a captain, he’s centering the first line. He puts a lot of pressure on himself but tonight the more he was in there, the better he did.”
Despite having two man-advantage opportunities in the final period, the Warriors saw Oliver Ames capitalize as a result both times.
“We just really couldn’t get the puck to settle on that power play,” first year KP head coach Paul Carlow said of the late advantage. “They got it cleared all the way down and we just never really got in sync after that. A little inexperience maybe, a little too much running around, a little guys trying to do too much. Then we coughed it up and they get the odd man rush.
“We really didn’t play a good first period. We came out at flat and they dominated but our goalie kept us in it. I felt the second period we controlled the play and it felt like we played much better in that period until we took a penalty and gave up the power play goal. I thought we played we played the first half of the third pretty even. If we capitalize at the end of the second on the breakaway or on the [first] power play in the third, and we had our chances, we just weren’t sharp tonight. It felt like we played in spurts.
Oliver Ames (2-1) will play host to Taunton (5-1) on Saturday at Asiaf when Hockomock League play opens. King Philip (2-3) will look to bounce back on the same day when they take on Foxboro at the Foxboro Sports Center at 4:30.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.