FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Franklin seniors Mike Patjane and Cam Curley had the chance to be heroes. In the final minute and with a man-advantage, each of the Panthers’ captains had a shot to break the deadlock, but both were robbed by acrobatic saves from Mansfield goalie Rich Shipman in the matchup of Hockomock League rivals Wednesday.
The Hornets’ senior netminder was the game’s standout player. Shipman made 39 saves and earned his team a 2-2 tie against the defending league champions in Wednesday night’s encounter – which did not, however, count toward the league standings -- at the Foxboro Sports Center.
With his team hanging on late in the third period, Shipman went post to post to deny Patjane with a kick save before throwing everything he had in front of Curley as the Panthers leading scorer bore down on the net.
“I thought Shipman played phenomenal,” said Mansfield head coach Rick Anastos, whose team was struggling with illness and, for the second time this season, had a late bounce go against them. “The second goal went off a skate. That sucks. It’s the second time that’s happened to us.”
Franklin head coach Chris Spillane praised the play of both Shipman and his own goalie Devon Maloof (21 saves), but felt that his team did not do enough to cause problems for a top goalie.
“We created a lot of turnovers, but we just didn’t turn them into quality scoring chances,” he explained. “He’s a good goaltender and he made quality stops but with a goalie of that caliber you need to move him post to post and we didn’t do that enough.”
The Panthers (2-1-1) dominated the opening period. Franklin out shot Mansfield 15-4 but was unable to find the back of the net. After Maloof started the second period with a great kick save, Franklin finally got on the board.
Junior forward Troy Donahue fired the Panthers into the lead. Donahue chose to shoot over trying to play a pass back to Dennis Pisani, who had hustled to fill the lane, and he picked the perfect spot over the shoulder of Shipman and just under the crossbar.
The goal sparked Mansfield (1-1-3) into life and the Hornets would play their best period of the game, outshooting Franklin, 14-12.
Mansfield evened things up at 1-1 with 2:19 left in the period. Senior captain Brendan Murphy scored on the rebound of a shot by fellow senior Kevin Flynn. With 34.7 seconds on the clock, Murphy was at it again with a scrappy goal on a loose puck on the edge of the crease. While not a pretty goal, it put Mansfield into the lead heading into the final 15 minutes.
Spillane was disappointed in the type of goals that his team has been giving up in recent games.
“It’s sort of been our nemesis the last couple of games, turning the puck over and giving up goals like that,” he said. “When he made the stop, we didn’t do enough to clear the puck away.”
“We just tried to be more aggressive and to play our system a little better than we did in the first,” noted Anastos about his team’s improvement in the second period. “The kids felt a little more confident about their game and I think that’s what you saw in the second period.”
The third period was all Franklin.
Three minutes into the third Donahue struck for the second time in the game when his shot deflected past Shipman for an unassisted goal to make it 2-2. The Panthers would go on to outshoot Mansfield 14-5 in the period, but could not generate a winning goal.
Spillane said, “You can’t win games when you’re chasing. Under a minute left you need to put the puck in the net and be a hero. There are no heroes in our room tonight.”
Franklin enters its most difficult stretch of the season when it travels to Newburyport on Saturday before hosting Lincoln-Sudbury on Monday night. Mansfield has a road game against league rival Foxborough on Saturday.