FALMOUTH, Mass. -- In a day that could be labeled "Separation Saturday" in MIAA hockey, Duxbury needed to showcase their skills in the Cape Cod Classic despite rattling off an impressive 12-0-2 record since the start of 2013.
Too bad 2012 Super 8 finalist BC High happened to be their first-round opponent.
The No.3 Eagles shut out the Green Dragons for the first time this season in a 3-0 win behind 18 saves from Peter Cronin, along with two power-play goals at the Falmouth Ice Arena in the state’s premier regular season-ending tournament.
The Green Dragons (14-2-4) last lost on Dec. 27 to Norwood, but with playing in the Patriot League on the South Shore, the Super Eight competition committee needs to see some bigger wins in Duxbury’s nonconference play to impress the voters.
In the first of four quarterfinals, BC High scored the first of their two power play goals on the second Duxbury penalty of the game. Right off the opening man-advantage face-off, Ryan Shea shuffled the showdown behind him into the right slot where Tim Larocque cued up the lamp with a one-timer as Shea also provided the perfect screen in front.
“We got some good chances and we made some good saves, but Duxbury worked hard, they are well coached, so we knew we were in for a battle and got everything we thought we would get,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said.
The Eagles held a slight 21-18 shot advantage in the end, but had a difficult time generating offense in front of the net with Duxbury dominating the physical play and controlling the puck with their forecheck, especially in the second period.
The Eagles failed to record a shot on goal for the first 7:57 of the second stanza but were also able to fend off the deep Duxbury bench. Duxbury head coach John Blake features three tough and scrappy lines, but his team also had trouble in front of the net due to the rangy defense of the Eagles.
“[In the] first period, [Duxbury] only had four shots on net and we had eight so we outshot them in the first but they work hard, skate well, throw three lines over and very good lines,” Flaherty said. “So I’m not sure Duxbury limited us as much as they just worked hard and made us work hard.”
The score remained 1-0 to start the third period and it looked as if Duxbury finally caught a break. BC High’s Sam Topham was called for a cross-checking penalty on a failed Nick Marrocco breakaway to give Duxbury a golden power play chance only 30 seconds into the final period.
But the Dragons' again struggled to set up a solid power play, going 0-4 in the game, and the defense turned the puck over in their own end just as the power play was about to expire. Senior forward Michael Brooks' came in trailing the dumped pass from the neutral zone and stole the puck right off the right post and punched home the Eagles’ second goal between the pads of senior goalie Chris Johnson. The short-hander came with three seconds remaining in the penalty at 1:56 of the third period and was the backbreaker.
"You know going in that you're not going to beat BC High in a slugfest," Blake said. "You've got to bear down defensively and try to get out of it, one-nothing or two-to-one."
Brooks’ hustle goal put the Green Dragons on their heels as Tom Besinger put things away with BC High's second power play goal of the game off an easy pass into the slot from Shea, who also assisted on Larcque’s first-period tally.
“The pressure by Michael Brooks and Ryan McDonough was the difference," Flaherty said. "They are captains, leaders, and do little things well. They are short-handed specialists if you will and the turnover happened and Michael Brooks walked in and put it away.”