Recap: No. 25 Oliver Ames 3, Canton 3

CANTON, Mass. -– It is only three games into the season, and Oliver Ames (2-0-1) is already building a reputation as a team that can never be counted out.

After a pair of dramatic comeback victories over Pembroke to begin the season, OA got two goals from junior captain Tim Doherty in the final seven-plus minutes on Saturday night to earn a 3-3 tie against Hockomock rival Canton (0-1-1) in a non-league encounter at the Metropolis Rink.

“I’m just proud of my guys that, down 3-1, there was no give-up attitude,” said first-year Oliver Ames head coach Mark Homer after the game. “We told these guys in the locker room before the third period that no matter what happens, you always have a shot as long as the buzzer doesn’t ring."

He added, “You’d like to win, but that’s a pretty good tie for us.”

Trailing 3-1 with 7:46 remaining in the game and already on the power play, the Tigers were given a golden opportunity when Canton’s Andrew Howlett picked up another penalty to make it a two-man advantage. Prior to the faceoff, Homer called timeout, although he admitted it was less about strategy than a much needed breather.

He explained, “The first and second line power play guys were getting a lot of time out there. Mainly it was to get them a rest, but number two was to spread it out a little bit and work for one shot. All we needed was one good opportunity.”

Doherty took advantage when that opportunity presented itself. He was at the right place at the right time to prod home the rebound of a shot by Tyler Provost to make it 3-2 with 7:13 remaining. Five minutes and one second later, Doherty did it again when he was given space and time in the slot to fire a laser over the glove of Justin Slocum and tie the game.

Homer was pleased that his captain was able to get the crucial goals. He remarked, “He’s a guy that’s in the locker room telling guys to push it up a notch and I’m just happy he had an opportunity to be in front of the net at the right time.”

Canton head coach Brian Shuman was blunt in his assessment of the final seven minutes from his team.

“We lost because we weren’t thinking out there,” he said. “That last play, that goal, there were two black shirts wide open in front of the net; no coverage at all. Our weakside guy should be down there; one or both defensemen should be out there at that point...we just weren’t thinking.”

Shuman continued, “It’s probably some of the worst defensive zone coverage that I’ve ever seen.”

Oliver Ames took the lead in the first period when the Tigers stole a pass at the blue-line and Matt Campanella created a two on one break. His attempt at a pass across the crease was blocked right back to his stick and, with Slocum following the initial pass, he knocked it into the empty net. It was the Tigers’ first shot of the game.

Canton responded well to the early setback, outshooting OA 14-6 in the first (and 32-17 for the game). Sophomore Matt Lazaro got the Bulldogs back even with 5:03 remaining in the period after OA goalie Jimmy Tierney stopped a point-blank shot from Jerry Harding only to see it find the stick of the unguarded Lazaro on the far post.

After a largely uneventful second period, it was Lazaro that gave Canton the lead just over a minute into the third. He stole an outlet pass and skated in all alone on Tierney and beat the junior netminder at the near post. It was Lazaro’s third goal of the season and, at that point, he had scored all three of Canton’s goals this year.

“He had two goals tonight and I thought he played very well,” assessed Shuman. “He needs to get better defensively --f he was out there at the end -- but overall he’s been providing a little spark for us up front and now he’s just got to play in all three zones.”

Canton would take a 3-1 lead with 10:08 remaining on a power play goal by Austin Zannino. His shot from the point went through a screen and snuck into the top corner over an unsighted Tierney.

It seemed at that point that Canton was going to go on to a crucial first victory of the season, before OA’s “Cardiac Kids” produced another dramatic finish.