HYDE PARK, Mass. -- There is nothing worse for a team that is battling to get back into a game than to give away a power play, let alone more than one.
Twice in the third period of Monday’s Bay State Conference game at Bajko Rink, and both times while momentum was on its side, Norwood took retaliation penalties. Both times Framingham (11-6-0, 11-2-0) took advantage of the extra skater to turn an evenly played one-goal game into a comfortable win.
The Flyers went 2-for-3 on the power play and sophomore forward Drew McKinnon tallied two goals and an assist as Framingham earned a tournament berth with a 5-1 win in a BSC crossover game against the Mustangs (9-3-2, 8-2-2).
Heading into the third period, Norwood trailed 2-1, but the Mustangs stormed out of the locker room intent on finding an equalizing goal. After managing only 10 shots in the opening two periods, Norwood racked up 16 in the third. Its good play was wasted when goalie Jordan Davis was called for a slash after a collision in the crease.
Freshman forward Jamie Brigham made Norwood pay. He latched onto a rebound of a McKinnon and found the back of the net to make it 3-1. The Mustangs continued to dominate the play in the third, but with 4:10 remaining, John Galvin headed to the penalty box. Twenty seconds later, the Flyers had another goal on a deflected shot by sophomore Ryder Lessing and the game was effectively over.
McKinnon added an empty net goal as the final buzzer sounded to make the score final, 5-1.
“We’ve been getting stupid penalties all year and it finally bit us. They’re not even good penalties,” said Norwood head coach Bill Clifford, who was visibly frustrated with his team’s performance. “That’s been the story of the whole season. We don’t play three periods of hockey; it’s going to catch up to you sooner or later and it caught up to us tonight.”
Framingham started the game slowly and junior goalie made two great stops to rob Rourke Flynn within the opening five minutes. The Flyers picked up steam in the final minutes of the first and, just 16 seconds before the end of the period, McKinnon found himself alone in front to fire the team into the lead.
Flyers head coach Paul Spear wanted other players to step up on offense and was impressed by the play of his young forward.
He said, “In the locker room before the game, I told the guys that someone else has to show up on the score sheet besides our top one or two guys. As soon as Drew scored the first goal of the game for us, I thought, ‘Ok, this is good for us.’ He had a great game.”
Norwood tied the game in the second despite only mustering four shots in the period. Framingham failed to clear the puck and it was played off the boards by captain Tyler Gover to a wide-open Galvin in the slot. Lynch had no chance as the junior picked the top corner.
The Flyers took back the lead 9:04 into the second period on a mistake by normally reliable defenseman Dan Wiseman. The Norwood assistant captain tried to ice the puck but it hit a teammate and fell directly into the path of Framingham’s captain Aaron Acorn. The senior made no mistake and gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead heading into the final period.
Both coaches used the same word to describe how Norwood played the final 15 minutes.
“It was desperation,” said Clifford, whose team was on the Watch List for inclusion in the Super 8 tournament, but has now lost two games in a row.
Spear was grateful that he was able to call on his junior captain to protect the net during Norwood’s onslaught. This was especially true in the final two minutes when three Flyers wound up in the box
“They wanted to catch up and they were playing a little bit desperate,” he remarked. “They were playing really hard and that’s when we count on Al to make some big saves. We missed a few coverages out front, there were a couple of deflected pucks that Al [Lynch] got a hold of, but that’s why he’s good.”
The win moves Framingham into a very slim half-game lead over Braintree atop the Bay State’s Carey division (the Wamps play again on Wednesday).
Most importantly for Spear, it gets the Flyers back into the Division 1 state tournament.
He said, “The last two years we had tournament [caliber] teams, but this year we got enough wins. It’s really a nice feeling to know that our season won’t end at February vacation.”