TEWKSBURY, Mass. -- Parity will most likely be the name of the game in the Dual County League/Merrimack Valley Conference this season and Friday's tilt between Andover and Westford Academy was a prime example of that.
The No. 21 Golden Warriors (2-0-1) and 24th-ranked Grey Ghosts skated to a 2-2 tie on a rare weekday early afternoon game at Breakaway Ice Center. Liam Centrella notched two goals for Andover, while Jay Drapeau potted a pair for the Grey Ghosts (1-0-2), including the game-tying goal with 6:10 left in the third period, to keep these two league rivals well aware that little ground will be given up in the league this season.
After the game, it was Andover’s head coach Mike Ciarletta’s reaction that summed up the game the best.
“It’s not like you want to be thrilled with ties, but at the end of the day how can you walk away thinking you didn’t give it every possible thing you have, and that’s what these kids did,” he said.
Early on it looked the Grey Ghosts would cough one up in their own end as they had several miscues that lead to good scoring opportunities for Andover. Zach Webert (22 saves) was there to thwart away all the Golden Warriors opportunites and keep the score sheet clean until his teammates could take care of the early game jitters.
Pat Flanagan did just that on the power play, when he kept the play alive and scooted a pass over to Cam MacDonald. MacDonald sent a big blast on Colby Gilbert (22 saves) who made the initial save, but Drapeau came flying in to tip home the rebound with 2:05 left in the period for the 1-0 lead.
Andover capitalized on its first power play of the second period when Matt McIver slid a pass right to the tape of Centrella, who was waiting on the doorstep to the right of Webert, and he banged it in to tie things at 1 at 1:27 of the second.
Centrella would get his second of the game immediately after a power play expired in the third period as he collected a loose puck off a rebound and deposited it through a crowd at 3:21.
“Our guys got to the net and I saw it in the kids feet and I knew I just had to hack at it,” Centrella said. “It was a dirty goal and it’s always a good goal. I just had to hit it in.”
The Grey Ghosts immediately stepped up their pressure on the puck as soon as the referees restarted play after the goal and their aggression paid off. Drapeau made a move across the middle and fired a pretty backhanded shot to the far post to tie things up with 6:10 left on the clock.
“We competed hard and that was a huge thing for us,” Grey Ghosts head coach Bob Carpenter said. “I think as we go through the year these types of things can help us a lot. The fact that we can come back against a really good team and tie it back up. The league is going to be great this year and everyone is good, so it will be interesting.”