WOBURN, Mass. -- Acton-Boxborough clinched the first seed in the upcoming MIAA girls' hockey tournament with a 4-3 win over home-ice Woburn in a Friday night thriller at O’Brien Rink.
The Colonials controlled the first period shots-on-goal game by a 3-1 ratio, but were frustrated by the excellent play of Tanner goalie Courtney Davis.
Colonial forward Lauren Roche got one by Davis in a bang-bang, sprawling play just outside the crease with two seconds left in an A-B power play. The five-on-four was a result of a tripping penalty committed by Hannah Sullivan.
The Tanners answered back five minutes into period two. Woburn’s Emily Lissner scored after the puck ricocheted off a swatting Cali Loblundo save, became the center of corner scrum and was spit back out in front of net. The goal came on assists by Cassandra Connolly and Kayla Smith.
The tie was short-lived after a Lauren Roche unassisted breakaway score with 6:32 left in the second period.
In what became Woburn’s theme of the night, Bryana Harron evened up the score at two off her own rebound and an assist from Lissner to close out the second period.
Colonials defenseman and captain Emily Loebs sniped a 25-foot slapshot through an inches-wide space between Davis and the pipe to give A-B a 3-2 lead early in the third.
“Just at the spur of the moment I saw the puck was there,” said a modest Loebs. “I didn’t even expect it to go in, it just did.”
Probably re-scuffing the ice where she previously threaded the needle, Loebs netted a wobbly wristshot to put the Colonials up by two with 5:59 left in the third.
“That was a horrible shot, my second goal was a flutterbug,” said Loebs with a big smile. “I wasn’t even going toward the net.”
The ever-clutch Tanners responded 30 seconds later with a Harron goal assisted by Lissner.
Then the clock just ran out on Woburn.
“I thought it was a great game,” Tanner head coach Bob MacCurtain said. “We tightened things up defensively after that first period, but we came up a little short.”
This was a bounce-back game for the Colonials after suffering their first loss of season to St. Mary's on Wednesday.
“When we switch up our pre-game stuff, we play worse,” Loebs said. “We made a big deal about St. Mary’s and we got scared about it. So we just did our normal routine, got everyone pumped up, and came out every period ready to play.”
“It was just a great team hustle,” said Colonials head coach Brian Fontas, tipping his cap to Woburn. “There was great goal-tending in this game. There were seven goals in this game, there could have been 12 goals in the game.”
“Whoever ends up in our bracket ends up in our bracket,” Fontas said on the upcoming playoffs. “I’m very proud of them, they earned it (first seed), and let’s let the team come through us.”